CRC Review #1: “New Negroes From Africa”

roseanne1OK, so I had to read this for an assignment. I had to officially review it. Is that cheating? If it was, it was a pleasant cheat.

The full name of the book is “New Negroes From Africa”: Slave Trade Abolition and Free African Settlement in the Nineteenth-Century Caribbean and it was written by a friend, Roseanne Adderley, who’s also a pretty major historian on the Caribbean.

The fact is, though slavery and its aftermath is intrinsic to the way in which the Caribbean sees itself,  not all Africans who arrived in the Americas came as slaves.  Adderley’s study looks at another group of Africans — the more than 40,000 people rescued by the Royal Navy from illegal slavers after the 1807 abolition of the slave trade and settled throughout the British New World Colonies.

In The Bahamas, we call them Liberated Africans. It may not be coincidental that Roseanne’s family is descended from some of them. Over a third of them settled between The Bahamas and Trinidad — two colonies that were at different ends of the Caribbean with considerably different economies and social structures, and yet with this connection. Adderley’s study illuminates how these differences made different landscapes and different cultures with some unexpected similarities.

I enjoyed the book. It’s readable, with elements of Roseanne’s dry humour. The best bits are when she’s dealing with the bureaucrats who were respondible for implementing the British anti-slave trade policy. They were not all converts, and she takes great delight in discussing how they put their own individual spins on the metropolitan policy.

So. Here’s to Roseanne. And here’s to her book. If you’re interested in a slightly different spin on Caribbean history, this is the book for you.

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