They called it”spoilage”. That is what you lose when your cargo goes bad. Or you are a trucker and you are overweight for the Interstate. I remember asking my Dad once in California. “Why did that trucker dump a bunch of oranges by the side of the road?” Pops: “The truck is too heavy and he had to lighten his load.”
Now picture that same dynamic on a slave voyage from 1526 til the Mid 1800s. Spoilage was the loss of life on the journey from West Africa to the New World. Either dead slaves, or if the ship was overloaded, several excess slaves would be simply chucked over the side to drown.
<Spoilage in the Slave Trade; 65 sec.>
Reggae music came about in Jamaica because of slavery. The Brits lived in the upscale plantation house. Irish and Scottish immigrants worked as overseers in the fields. Black slaves worked the sugar plantations.
Eventually, The Irish and Scottish wiled away their time by playing fiddle and piano. As time went on, blacks picked up those instruments and learned to play. Usually on Sunday – Church services. When you absorb African drumming onto Western melodies and instruments — that is how you get Reggae music.
<British instruments + African drums = Reggae; 41 sec.>
In October, Columbus Day, is a Holiday. Christopher Columbus. The Genovese explorer who stumbled onto “India” on behalf of the Spanish Crown. Thus began the American Holocaust
Columbus was looking for a Western route to India that wouldn’t take Europeans through Muslim territory for the riches of the Subcontinent.
Ancient Astronaut Theory Suggests….Columbus had two UFO Encounters
<Columbus, The Bermuda Triangle and UFOs>
Columbus wrote in his journal
- The incident took place on October 11th 1492, 10pm. At the time of the incident it is said that Santa Maria (the ship) was sailing through what is now known as the Bermuda Triangle. The crew first noticed a disc shaped object emerging from the sea. The description given in the ship’s log is that of a wax candle light moving up and down in the night sky.
- Prior to this incident the ship’s logs in the month of September (17th and 20th) provide accounts of what are described as stars making noticeable movements in the night sky.
Columbus’s crew reached what is now the Bahamas in 1492. He thought he had landed in India. The Taino and Arawak natives, (soon to be wrongly called Indians), greeted the explorers with friendly intent. Unfortunately for them, they arrived in gold finery.
The Euros returned the generosity with massacres, cholera, syphilis and rape. Whoever survived the onslaught was enslaved and forced to mine gold. After a generation the Indigenous tribes fought back with the only real weapon they had: mass suicide. They would simply jump off cliffs into the sea. Or eat a meal of poisonous roots.
<Taino and Arawak devastation by Columbus; 1 min. 55 sec.>
As the Conquistadors prepared to burn Hatuey alive, a “helpful” Catholic Priest offered salvation to him. If he accepted Christ he would immediately go to Heaven and not burn for Eternity in Hell as a Heathen.
Hatuey politely declined. “I have seen what the Christians are like on Earth. Why would I want to meet anymore of them in the Sky?”
In 1526 the Portugese kicked off the Atlantic Slave Trade. Soon to follow were the Spanish, English and Dutch. Thus began what Peter Tosh sang: “400 Years and it’s the same philosophy)
<Wailers and Peter Tosh – 400 Years; 1 min. 15 sec.>
Thus began 3 centuries of the Middle Passage
- Europeans would load ships full of commercial goods: textiles, rifles, flint locks
- They would dock on the Gold Coast of West Africa. They would trade their goods for slaves. (Most slaves were captives in tribal wars.)
- The slaves would be packed on the ships “like sardines in a tin” and shipped to the New World: America, Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and especially Brazil.
<The Dungeon in the Merchant Ship; 36 sec.>
4. The slaves, in Jamaica, would be forced to harvest sugar cane.
5. The ships return to Europe with sugar products: granular sweetener, rum, molasses.
6. European factory workers, driven by their sugar rush, in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution , could make the consumer goods….to return to Africa
The “Middle Passage” was the leg between Europe to the New World. As many as as 12.5 million “human cargo” made the excruciating journey over 3 centuries. As many as 2.5 million of those unfortunate wretches perished during the journey.
That’s a spoilage rate of 20%. And yes, those losses were expected and factored into the price.
<The horrors of the Middle Passage; 90 sec.>
The major themes of Reggae music explore this psychic disruption. Songs about loss, the repatriation to Zion away from Babylon. Rastas worshiping a Black Christ – His Imperial Majesty in Ethiopia.
Those were the stories that made me a Reggae fanatic. Epitomized by Eek a Mouse’s “Do You Remember”. Song 2 of this podcast
Do you, do you remember those days of slavery?
It wasn’t black man alone, who died through bravery
‘Though some a dem threw dem self over board
Because dis ya slaveship overload
- Burning Spear – Columbus; Hail H.I.M. (Burning Spear) ’80 JA vinyl
- Big Youth/Soul Syndicate – Reggae Gi Dem Dub (Nichola Delita) ’78 JA vinyl dub album of the week
- Eek a Mouse – Do You Remember?; Skidip! (Greensleeves) ’82 do you remember the days of slavery?
- Misty in Roots – Slavery Days; Wise and Foolish (People Unite) ’81 UK vinyl
- Dillinger – Plantation Heights; CB 200 (Mango) ’76
- Culture – Pirate Days; Two Sevens Clash (Shanachie) ’77
- Don Carlos – Black History; 12″ (Live & Learn) ’82 DC
- Gregory Isaacs – Slave Master; Mr. Isaacs (Shanachie) ’77
- Mutabaruka – Witeman Country; Check It! (Alligator) ’83 JA dub poet
- Bam Bam – Slave; Power of a Woman (Bam Bam International) ’87 LA vinyl w/ female vox
- Joe Higgs – More Slavery + Dub; Life of Contradiction (Lagoon) ’75
- Third World – Human Market Place; 96 Degrees in the Shade (Third World) ’76
- Hugh Griffiths – 400 Years; Mother Africa (Gone Cold) (My-O-Lanta) ’86 UK vinyl
- Althea & Donna – The West; Uptown Top Ranking (Virgin Front Line) ’78 female dj duo
- Jimmy Cliff – Poor Slave; Unlimited (Reprise) ’73 US vinyl
- The Skulls – Black Slavery Days; Black Slavery Days (Clappers) ’80
- King Tubby – Natty Dub; Roots of Dub (Moll-Selekta) ’75 Dub Album of the Hour
- Bob Andy – Unchained; Bob Andy’s Song Book (Studio One) ’72 JA vinyl (1) original
- Sister Carol – Shackles; Liberation For Africa (Serious Gold) ’83 DC vinyl (2) dj coer
- Ken Boothe – Christopher Columbus; 7″ (Fox) JA 70’s era
- Aswad – African Children; New Chapter (CBS) ’81 UK
- Rastafari Elders – 400 Years; Rastafari Elders (RAS) ’90 nyahbinghi
- Black Slate – Bondage and Slavery; Black Slate (Alligator) ’80 Chicago vinyl
- Rashani – Columbus Myth; Who’s Feelin’ Who (Zamani) ’98 Duncanville, TX
- Courtney Melody – Black Liberation; 12″ (CRAT) 80’s digital
- The Congos – Children Crying; Heart of the Congos (Blood & Fire) ’77 Lee “Scratch” Perry/Black Ark
- Lorna Asher – True History; Straight to Your Heart (Twinkle) ’99
- Little Roy – Christopher Columbus; Prophecy (Tafari) ’75 US vinyl
- Jay Boys – African People; Babylon a Fall Down (Trojan) ’72 reggae cover of Paul Revere’s Indian Reservation
- Sheriff Lindo & the Hammer – Dub House of Horror; Ten Dubs That Shook the World (Endless) ’88 Australian Dub Album of the Hour
Set 7: Wailers Family Tree
- Peter Tosh – 400 Years; The Toughest (Heartbeat) ’70 Lee “Scratch” Perry prod’n – riddim shower (1) Peter solo
- The Wailers – 400 Years; Catch a Fire (Tuff Gong) (2) – ’72 Jamaican mix
- The Wailers – 400 Years; Catch a Fire (Tuff Gong) (3) – ’72 Chris Blackwell rmx
- Bunny Wailer – Slave Driver; Tribute (Solomonic) ’80 JA vinyl – Bob Marley covers
- Singers & Players – Dungeon + Merchant Ship; Revenge of the Underdog (ON U Sound) ’82 UK mutant dub
- Junior Delgado – Sons of Slaves; Treasure Found (Incredible Music) ’77 Lee “Scratch” Perry Black Ark prod’n
- Earl Zero – Shackles and Chains; Visions of Love (Epiphany) ’79
- Abyssinians – Black Man’s Strain; Satta Massagana (Heartbeat) ’76
- I Kong – Set Jah People Free (Rohit) ’87
- Capital Letters – Out of Africa; Headline News (Greensleeves) ’79 UK
- Djosos Krost feat. Jah Bobby – Creation; Djosos Krost (Quango) 2004 Swedish dub w/ dub poet