It’s Over! I can’t believe it. The last two episodes of BETs The Book Of Negroes was not only heart-wrenching but kept me on the edge of my seat as well. I knew throughout the series that I was watching because I had a desire to learn. Learn about some of the common experiences that were endured by my ancestors but to also learn about the story of Aminata and her journey as well. I can say that I have definitely come away with a new knowledge and enlightened outlook.
“for the first time in my life I had no desire to read…I even stopped thinking about Chekura…I’m in the mood for dying” –Aminata
After all she had been through it is here that I realized Aminata was human just like every other slave. Yes, she had an amazing foundation and inner strength but she felt pain, fear, and hurt like any other.
Aminata wills her way through with the encouragement of an old preacher and named Daddy Moses and takes a job in a nearby town named Shelbourn for Mrs Witherspoon to save up enough money to travel to the records office and find out about what happened to Chekura. Mrs. Witherspoon was clearly unhappy with the freed slaves being there.
“Birchtown is just to crowded. It’s all Ver well to be hospitable but there are limits…”
Aminata endures and saves up enough money to travel to the records office and find out a bit more about Chekura. The ship he was on was diverted to Bermuda. She returns to Birchtown with hope. Then, her many letters finally pay off. One of the British officers, Captain John Clarkson, arrives to tell the people of Birchtown that they will relocate them to Sierra Leone in Africa and establish a community there for Free Negroes. He promises land to farm, food to eat and most of all Freedom. They are not quick to believe him since they were promised the same thing when sent to Nova Scotia only to be met with indenturing which is simply another form of slavery. Yet with Aminata’s encouragement, they agree to go. Clarkson hires Aminata as his assistant to help with the relocation. She says that she will but not until he helps her locate Chekura in Bermuda.
I am always amazed at how Aminata is able to secure things not only for herself but for Chekura and her people as well. She is never selfish or focused only on her well-being but always trying to fight for the benefit of those around her.
With help from Captain Clarkson, Chekura finally makes his way back to her. She tells him of the loss of their child and as always their love carried them through. He promises never to leave her even if another war breaks out.
“I will stand by you even amidst the chicken icicles.” –Chekura
Aminata sets out to find the 1,000 people they need to be relocated but Chekura is disheartened by the difficulties to make a living in Nova Scotia.
“It’s hard being a slave but when there is no work it is hard to be free.” –Chekura
We Must Go
After Mrs. Witherspoon insights the killing of one of the freed slaves and asks that Birtchtown be burned to the ground Captain Clarkson goes to try and diffuse the situation. It is too late. The town is burned and the free slaves are slaughtered throughout the night. Those who are left realize they must go.
They are finally going home…home to Africa…home where Aminata always knew she would return.
When the arrive they realize although the British have good intentions they still are within a boundary even in Africa if they leave the confines of the British protection they can be taken and sold back into slavery. Daddy Moses is murdered when he attempts to stop a young African child from being taken to the slave ship.
This sparks a new fire in Aminata to find her way back to her village. Chekura feels it is far too dangerous. Despite his please she negotiates for a local to guide her inland to where her village was so long ago. Chekura reluctantly agrees to go…
“I was there when you were taken from your home. I will be there when you return.” –Chekura
Captain Clarkson pleas with Aminata to come back to England with him to help with the abolitionist movement to pass laws preventing slaves from being shipped from overseas. She says no. She must find her way back home. Clarkson returns to England and Aminata and Chekura make there way first by river then through the jungle to where her village once was.
She encounters the same slave runner who killed Daddy Moses walking a group of African children to the ocean. Chekura says he cannot do nothing. He must help them. He frees the slaves successfully but in a fight with the slave runner is mortally wounded. He tells Aminata to go. To say his name and go. He dies in her arms after finally freeing those he could not so many years before.
“I had to bring you to the ocean. I have lived with that my entire life….” –Chekura
I was so sad and even a bit angry that this was how their love story would end. In the jungle of Africa most likely not far from where they first met but instead of happiness in death. Still, I think this was a way for Chekura to come full circle. He was plagued by the way he met Aminata for his entire life and for him this was a way to make penance for that wrong. Aminata flees until she collapsed in the jungle. As she lays there she remembers the test her father once gave her to ‘find her [your] way home’ by using the sun and moon.
Then villagers come and carry to the village. They care for her until she is well. They ask her where she comes from. She tells them. She becomes a storyteller as she always knew she would be. She begins to tell her story.
Back To England
Aminata leaves Africa (for the last time) and returns to England at Captain Clarkson’s request. She sits before Parliament where they ask her if they can write her story to help their cause. She agrees to share her story but only if she writes it herself. Once she is done, they question whether she wrote it herself because of her higher than expected writing abilities. Yet she proves to them each word is her own.
While signing her book she sees Mr. Lindo. He has returned. He brings with him news that in her heart she knew to be true all along. He brings her daughter – May. May whom she was told was dead so many years ago is in fact alive. Mr. Lindo searched for her and in a last effort to repay the wrong he had done brought her to Aminata in England with stories of her Mother and how she survived.
Aminata’s story ends here with her new life in England fighting for the rights of her people and the hope of beginning a new life with her daughter.
Did you watch the Book of Negroes series?
What do you feel was one thing you took away from it?