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The Life Of A Slave - Kofi's Diary
I have just come back from working in the fields. I’m tired and worn out but coming back to my family is what matters. My two beautiful children run off and play for a while, but I bring them back to talk to them about their day, I treasure our time together. My wife has just finished making tea and we start having a general conversation. But this suddenly turns to talk about European men coming and capturing people from the fields. ‘’Why would someone do this? And what would they need to capture people for any way? It makes no sense’’ I say.
My wife replies saying ‘’there’s been talk in the village about something called slavery.
European men come over here and capture black people from the fields, or even worse... They sometimes pay tribal leaders... people from our culture, to actually capture their own friends and people they know for money and riches. No one knows where they go, what they do, or anything that happens.. But still, it’s awful.’’
Later on my wife, Ebele told me that she was worried. She was worried about the children. She didn’t want them to get captured and taken away. I won’t let it happen. My wife and my children, I will do what ever I can to make sure that they will never leave my side until I die.
I promise that I’m going to keep them safe, Kofi.
I couldn’t keep them safe. I didn’t even know. I was in the fields and working, trying to earn more money so that they would be happier. I come home to find that my children weren’t laughing and playing cheerfully, my wife wasn’t stood preparing vegetables for our supper. No one was there. The thought struck my mind so quickly that I screamed. It was like a bolt of lightning hitting a tree. Slavery, Europeans, Being captured. I dropped my bag, the food, and my thoughts... I ran straight through the door of our hut and started to run frantically through the forest. I found my wife sat on the floor staring hopelessly into the distance, tears dribbling quickly down her face. ‘’They took them. They took my children!’’ she shrieked helplessly as she got up but nearly collapsed straight back onto me... To my wife, there was now nothing to live for now. I couldn’t save my children... what kind of a dad am I if I cant even protect them? What if I can’t save my wife from these vile European scums? If I ever see a European person in the forest by me I swear I will kill them.
Boat, boat, boat. All I can think about is boats. All I know is that im on a boat. I was dragged. Dragged through the dirt with stones and rocks flying into my face. I got to a group of other African people in an opening in the forest. They were like me, their faces scratched and battered from the rocks and stones, bloody from being whipped over and over by English men holding guns and swords. But there were no English people in this group, we were all black... I thought to myself.. Why though? Why only black people? Where were we going? And what did they want us for? It seemed like endless questions came flooding into my head. I asked one of the chalky white people... I got a reply, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. ‘’Oii! Shut it and stop being disrespectful to me. You want a good whipping to teach you how to talk to Me.’’ ... and he got out a whip. My back became bloody and sore. My eyes filled with tears, but not because of sadness, but because of the pain and torture that I was going through.
The thing that made it worse was knowing that my wife was somewhere in this crowd of ill treated, injured, tired and ill people. She had been captured too but was in another group of people. She was with other women. They stood, sobbing to themselves whilst the chalky white Europeans whipped them and screamed in their faces. I wanted to protect her, i wanted to protect everyone. It was unfair being treated like this, like animals.
I was being chained to the other black people and they were being chained to me. The chains were heavy, and rubbed me. They were so tights around my wrists that the circulation was going, my hands were becoming numb and they started to bleed from the rusty, metal chains digging in me.
When there was over 100, 200 or maybe even more people, we were forced to walk. This seemed endless... Hours and hours we walked, but some said that they had been walking days. I lost track of the time as all I could think about was how ill and hungry I felt. I felt like I was going to pass out, collapse on the floor just like others who had, but they had all been whipped, and now that I knew what that felt like I didn’t want it again. I survived the whole journey and didn’t faint. We were taken to a boat, which is where I am now. The word boat would have been amazing before as I never had the chance to go on one… But now, a boat means torture to me. A boat is like the deepest, darkest pits of hell... Completely unbearable. I don’t know where they’re taking me, how long I’m going to be on this boat, Or even what’s going to happen to me when I get off this ‘thing’.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to me but i hope i survive.. Kofi.
I am SO hungry, I am SO tired, I feel SO ill. Nothing you could ever imagine even compares to this. We are stored like sardines on the boat... We’re all squashed together, chained together and have no room to move. The young girls are at the far end of the boat, because that’s the tightest, most cramped part, the young boys are opposite them at the other far side of the boat, also compacted. Women and men are stored in the middle, but we are still split into sections. Still chained together, we couldn’t move. We had no freedom. Lying in a dark, smelly boat, chained next to strangers who don’t even speak the same language as you, and not even being allowed to get up to go to the toilet? Yeah, that’s what my life now is and it is horrific. I haven’t seen my wife at all in the months that we have been on this horrendous journey.
About 3 times a week men come round with a bucket of left over food. It looks and tastes disgusting but if you don’t eat it then there is nothing else that you can have. Everyone holds their hands out, pleading for even a tiny amount... but they only share it out to a few, random people. Either that or they fling it and throw it so that people have to catch it and fight for it. I know they treat us like animals, but it’s as if everyone actually turns in to animals when the food comes. People immediately start fighting for it. They kick, scratch, Bite, Plead, Fight and beg, but no one ever gives it up.
For exercise we are taken up to the deck, maybe once a week at the most... We are forced to run or walk laps and if were too fast or too slow then we get whipped. Because we had been unchained, people thought that this might be their only chance to escape, so they jumped over the side, despite the fact that they couldn’t swim. Is dying really better than this? I’m starting to think so as the only thing keeping me alive is the thought of seeing my wonderful wife again.
How can one of the best days that you’ve had in months suddenly turn in to one of the worst in your life? I saw Ebele for the first time in over 6 months. Even though she was slightly ill the sight of her made me want to laugh and cry with happiness.
We had to do exercise but they had bought up the males and the females. As per usual the so called ‘’exercise’’ was agonising and seemed like torture, but still, seeing Ebele’s face made the sun seem just a little bit brighter... But soon clouds started to come and my world faded to grey.
Over the past few weeks i had started to realise that quite a lot of people were getting ill... I then started to realise that more of the ill people were going missing. Where were they going? About once a month the chalky, white men would come round and inspect a group of us while we were doing our exercise to see if we were ill... but no one had ever been ill in my group so i don’t know what happened. Today, there were loads of sick people in my group, and i found out what happens to them. I lost my beautiful Ebele today just because some stupid, pale men decided she was too ill. I fought against them for her. I told her i loved her. The last thing Ebele would ever hear? My voice saying the words ‘’i love you.’’
Chains... Yet again i came to the conclusion that they are simply bad news, they bring hell to my life. Ebele and others were chained together, then chained to lots of rocks...
The rocks were thrown out the boat. They held on for their life. They couldn’t hold on. They sank... Down, down, down. To the bottom of the sea and their life, taken.
They won’t get away with this! I will kill them too if i have to. Their lives are not worth anything, definitely not worth as much as Ebele’s.
After nearly a year our journey on the boat ended and i found out what was going to happen to me... slavery. We got on land and immediately we were taken to this crowded market kind of place and we were all lined up. As i stood there a crowd of people gathered and seemed to be looking us up and down. I was scared.
‘’3! 2! 1!’’ it’s as if everything went blurry, all i could see was chalky white people running towards the group of us. Two of them grabbed me and started to yank me. I didn’t want to be a slave.. Life in Africa had been hard but i don’t think anything could compare to slavery. Long hours for no pay, constantly being whipped, having your freedom taken away from you, even your name.. Swapped for an English name.
In the end a woman called Julie Peters (but i have to call her Miss Peters or Lady Peters) bought me. Buying a person? It sounds ridiculous? Yeah, well it is.
That was 3 months, 1 week and 6 days ago. She still owns me. Over those months all i have done is work in the fields harvesting. I get up at 6 and don’t usually come in till 9 or maybe even 10 some nights depending on how bright the blazing sun is. The sun... it burns me all day. It’s as if am having a constant battle with the sun, and i never win. When i work for too long i get ill, but even then i try not to think of it and ignore it. You see, when your ill ‘’Miss Peters’’ sends you to the punishing room... and usually she sends her husband in to whip you.
I get fed more here than on the boat, and if they forget then i just sneak something out of the field. But this is very rare as it is highly dangerous!
My new English name is Edward. I still call myself Kofi though, although not in front of Sir or Lady Peters. They would punish me. Nothing will ever stop me signing my name as Kofi at the end of these diary entries.
If i had three wishes then i know what i would want as i have planned it for what seems like forever
For my wife to have never have been killed so i could see her at least one more time and know she was ok
To know my children are ok and hope they buy their freedom. (if not then i hope to run away and search for them one day)
To go back to Africa, even for a day just to tell the people what they need to protect themselves from.
My last wish... That one could change the world. If only my people would fight back against these pathetic, white scum.
This may be my last entry for a while as Lady Peters found this book last week and confiscated it. I had to sneak it back so i might get whipped for it. But it’s worth it if you think about how maybe, one day, my story may get passed on to other people all around the world and may even be a warning to the other coloured skinned people.
I plan to buy my freedom eventually and go and find a way to buy my children’s freedom too. If nothing else works out in my life then at least they will have a good life. I will do it for them, and also Ebele.
For now, goodbye.