The Life of Africans Who Came to Jamaica as “Slaves”

The Middle Passage was the stage of the triangular trade in which millions of Africans were shipped to the New World as part of the Atlantic slave trade.

Africans who survived the “Middle Passage” were fattened up and oiled to look healthy prior to being auctioned in public squares to the highest bidders.

Field slaves fetched £25- £75 while skilled slaves such as carpenters fetched prices as high as £300.

A typical sugar estate was 900 acres. The field slaves’ quarters were usually about a half mile away.


The cramped housing space which limited their dwellings (often made of wattle and daub) to one window and one door, meant that very little other than sleeping took place indoors.

Slaves had their own kitchen gardens. They kept pigs and poultry and grew mangoes, plantain, ackee, okra, yam and other ground provisions.

On average most estates had three main field gangs. The first comprised of the strongest and most able men and women.

The second comprised of those no longer able to serve in the first, and the third, of older slaves and older children. Children started working as young as 3 or 4 years old.

During the late 18th and early 19th century, the slave revolts grew bigger. They made it clear that, if they were not set free, they would soon free themselves.

There were hundreds of slave revolts. In the Caribbean, they averaged at least two per year during the period 1789-1815.

"Cane cutters in Jamaica" by Unknown - [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Cane cutters in Jamaica” by Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

By Neo Makeba

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