In the News: slavery headlines

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Cubans trace roots to remote Sierra Leone village

By Sarah Rainsford BBC News, 21 April 2014

For decades the Ganga-Longoba of Perico have been singing the same chants, a tradition passed down the generations.


But until recently this Afro-Cuban community knew little of the origin of the songs, or of their own ancestors.


Now, thanks to the work of an Australian academic, Cuba’s Ganga believe their roots lie in a remote village in Sierra Leone from where it is thought their relatives were sold into slavery more than 170 years ago.


“When I first filmed the Ganga-Longoba, I believed their ceremonies were a mixture of many different ethnic groups,” says historian Emma Christopher, of Sydney University.


“I had no idea that a large number of Ganga songs would come from just one village. I think that’s extremely unusual,” she says.


The initial breakthrough came when a group in Liberia saw her footage of a Cuban ceremony and recognised part of a local ritual.


Spurred on to seek the songs’ exact origins, the academic spent two years showing the film across the region until she confirmed that the Cubans were singing in the almost extinct language of an ethnic group decimated by the slave trade.

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Rutgers professor’s book examines full scope of slavery

By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer,Philadelphia Inquirer, April 15, 2014

Henry Bibb was just 10 the first time he ran away.

In the antebellum South, Bibb fled slavery many more times, eventually finding his freedom and becoming an author and abolitionist.

“Believe me when I say that no tongue, nor pen ever has or can express the horrors of American Slavery,” he wrote in 1849. “I despair in finding language to express adequately the deep feeling of my soul as I contemplate the past history of my life.”

His story – one of thousands of surviving slave narratives – is part of research by Rutgers-Camden associate professor Keith Green, who uses it to help dissect and expand the meaning of slavery.

The word covers many forms of suffering, he says in a forthcoming book, Bound to Respect: Antebellum Narratives of Imprisonment, Servitude and Captivity, 1816 to 1861.

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