Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Roots: The Story of Kunta Kinte

So why is Kunta Kinte important you may ask?

The search to learn more about his family’s history led Alex Hayley to write a book and produce a movie known as Roots. The story of Kunta Kinte, begins with Kinte's birth in 1750 in Juffure, Gambia. Captured as a teenager by slave traders he journeys to the United States via the middle passage. This is basically the Atlantic Slave Trade route.

Along the way, many of his companions die of sickness and mistreatment and poor treatment.

After he arrives in the United States, he is bought as a worker for a plantation in Virginia, and is given the name Toby.

Kunta is repeatedly punished for not responding to Toby, and tried to escape several times. When he is caught for the fourth time, his foot is chopped off so that he can no longer run. Kunta is eventually sold off to another owner where he is married to a woman named Kizzy.

When Kizzy is sold, she has a son, named George, by her new master. George becomes "Chicken George, because of his cockfighting skills. He eventually buys his freedom, which paves the way for the rest of the family to live out of slavery.

It's is this lineage that leads up to Alex Haley writing the now famous story of   "Roots".

The Slave Trade

Around twelve million Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Western Hemisphere from 1450 to 1850...around 400 years. This was known as the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Alex Hayley's research identified one ship in particular Lord Ligionier  which sailed from the Gambia River with 140 Gambians. When the boat arrived in North America there were only 98 survivors left. Hayley believed one of these survivors to be 17-year old Kunta Kinte. Kinte along with the other 97 survivors were sold into slavery on October 7 according to the Maryland Gazette newspaper:

Who is Kunta Kinte?

According to Kunta Kinte was an African from the Gambian town of Juferee. According to Haley he was sold into slavery in a town called "Naplis."

Through his research Haley identified a slave ship the Lord Ligonier. This ship sailed from the Gambia River, July 5, 1767. 140 captured Gambians were on this ship however, when it arrived in Annapolis, Maryland on September 29, 1767 only 98 slaves had survived the trip

Hayley believed one of those 98 survivors to be 17 year-old Kunta Kinte. Kinte, along with the other survivors were sold into slavery on October 7, according to an advertisement in the Maryland Gazette newspaper.

The transport of Africans from Africa to North America was known as the Atlantic Slave Trade.
During this era around twelve million Africans were transported across the Atlantic to the Western Hemisphere in the 400 years from 1450 to 1850.

 Slaves went through what was known as the horrors of the "Middle Passage" — the Atlantic crossing in which Africans were packed into the holds of ships for months, many dying along the way.