A review on the Book of Negroes.
When I started this book this month, I had no expectations for it. I just wanted to tick it off my reading list because I had it since the pandemic last year. A few lines into the book and I knew I was in for a ride of my life. I loved how it was written in First person: the writer’s ploy to captivate the reader’s emotions and attention was a good one because it worked on me.
I became the protagonist subconsciously, went back in time, felt her emotions, and did everything she did. I felt pain and fear and anger and love and passion and boldness and compassion.
‘Say my name; remember me. My name is Aminata Diallo’
This book is a story of the desperate wickedness of human; of man-stealers; of coffles and shackles; of nakedness and shame; of suffering and anguish; of the pungent stink of a slavery ship.
The year was 1755. Eleven years old Aminata, her mother, and a young boy from her village were accosted on their way back from catching babies in a nearby village. Though news had been going around that some people were going missing because some evil men were lurking around and stealing people, Aminata would never have imagined that her family or village will be victims. She had dreams for herself in her village. Never did she imagine that she would be separated from her parents that early in life.
For three revolutions of the moon, she was stripped naked, put in a coffle and shackle, and made to walk an insane distance across villages to the sea. Every stolen man, woman, and child were dehumanized by the toubab.
Her resilience held me spellbound; she was able to go through harsh situations. I enjoyed the parts where she received goodwill from strangers since her abduction: Chekura, the boy who was an assistant the toubab on their way to board the slavery ship by the Atlantic ocean; Georgia rescued her from being killed because she was frail from the journey; Mamed was interested in her and taught her how to read secretly; Solomon Lindo, the Jew, who bought her from her master so he could rescue her from him and he helped her; Sam Fraunces, the tavern owner, helped her escape Lindo in New York and also employed her; Theo McArdle, the only reasonable white man who helped with a job in Nova Scotia.
All of Meena’s days were mostly filled with sorrow but as the popular saying goes, “where there is a will, there is a way”. And so, Aminata “Meena” was able to go through the journey with determination. She had always wanted to go back to Africa. She searched so many books and maps but none gave a precise location of her place. What was more repulsive was the drawing of trees and elephants on the map of Africa.
After so many hurdles, obstacles and almost being sold to slavery again, Aminata went back to London old and frail. She decided that she wasn’t going on any journey again. She would gladly die in peace in London.
With this ending, Aminata is a hero. Why? Because she lived.
There is a series adaption from this book. If you prefer watching to reading, go for it.