Life on the Plantation, West Coast of America:
Our owner soon got to a horse and carriage, with a cage, by now we were falling over from lack of food and water. We were chucked into the cage, with no care at all, and then carted off to some place. That some place was a massive farm, or as our owner called it a Plantation. Apparently, we would be working on the Plantation for the rest of our time as a Slave. The Plantation was massive stretching out as far as the eye could see; we were travelling down a dirt track towards a main house, in the middle of the Plantation. What I saw as we pulled up at the house was horrific, both African men and women, harvesting the crop, some being tortured and whipped for some pathetic reason I’m sure. Just like on the Great Canoe.
The methods of torture and punishment that the White people used on us were awful. Everyone at some point during his and her time on the Plantation had all of the methods of torture done to him or her. The methods of torture and punishment were:
· The Slave collar, a metal collar with four spikes sticking out of it, it was worn around the neck for a duration of time. When wearing the Slave collar you couldn’t lie down due to the spikes.
· Thumb screw, we had these on the Great Canoe as well, they were a great way of injuring and inflicting pain on someone without injuring them so much that they could no longer work.
· Metal Masks, that were put over our faces with a metal grid over our mouths, stopping us from talking to each other.
· The Cat O Nine Tails Whip, you got repeatedly whipped with this, it also seemed to be the most popular form of punishment and torture.
· Being tied to a post and left there in the blazing sun all day or more, without food or water. This was by my opinion the worse from of torture and punishment.
There was many more, but those ones are the most easy to remember because of how horrible they were. As I found out later we were punished with methods like the ones above for reasons like; not working hard enough, resisting to work, trying to escape the Plantation, killing a White person and more. Some of the reasons were pathetic and some were more serious, like killing a White person. We soon found out that our Plantation harvested cotton, but other Plantations harvested other crops such as; tobacco, sugar cane, coffee and rice. Believe me when I say that cotton is by far the worst crop to harvest because it cuts your hands whenever you pick it off the plant. We have to work long hours, sometimes up to 15-17 hours a day. The climate is awful; it is boiling in the summer and freezing in the winter, with the blazing sunrays burning our backs. We have no cover to protect us from the sun, not as we did in Africa.
It has been months now that I have been working on the Plantation and my life is not getting any better, I don’t think it ever will. The huts that we live in are substandard because we had to build them ourselves; you see we are the first set of Slaves on this Plantation. The food we have been fed has been mainly fatty meats and what the White people call cornbread, it is horrible and not substantial. Meaning that we have hardly any energy for working, therefore we end up being whipped and punished more than we already were. The demand in cotton has gone up recently according to our owner, because he is forcing us to work harder than we already were threatening us with the whip if we don’t do it right or fast enough. I have also noticed that not all the Slaves bought here work on the Plantation, some work in the house for the owner and his family. I would say that 80% of us work on the Plantation leaving 20% to work in the house.
Our owner is getting older by the day and weaker as well, we hardly see him anymore around the Plantation. If he dies then his only daughter will take over the Plantation, which is good because I have noticed that whenever we see her around the Plantation she has a great look of sorrow in her eyes. I just hope that that means something good and not bad. To pass the time we sing songs, most of them are to raise our hopes and spirits so that we can get through the day. Bu there is one that is different and also my favourite, it is called Wade in the Water, the chorus goes like this:
“Wade in the Water,
Wade in the Water children,
Wade in the Water,
Gods gonna trouble the water”
It is telling is how to escape, by going through the water, so that the owners’ bloodhounds cannot trace our sent. It came from the slaves that work on the Railways and doing other manual labour.
From today onwards, I will have been at this Plantation for over a year and everyday is the same, but today is different because today is the day that we get our new belongings for the year to come. By this I mean we get new clothes, underwear and shoes, we only get one pair of shoes a year, three changes of underwear and hardly any clothes. It does not seem like much but it symbolises to us Slaves that we still have our dignity and honour. It is up to us to wash them and try to repair them over the next year that we have them.
That was three years ago, today is another day for new belongings, also marking my fifth year at this horrible Plantation. Today is also a joyous day because our owner has finally died and left his daughter in charge of the Plantation. Which means change for the better, I think. Today the daughter of our old owner, gathered all the Slaves together and started to speak to us as a group, I only understood some of it thanks to the children of some of the other women Slaves. They have grown up and learnt our tongue and the tongue of the White people, making it easier for us communicate. The main part of what she said was about forgiveness for the sins that they have committed against us, being able to live together in peace and making us free. Being free, that is what she promised us. I don’t know what it was about her, but I trusted her and believed in what she said, that someday soon we would all be free.