Was This Liberation - Or The Re-Abduction Of Enslaved Blacks?

August 15, 2019

Britain made a bold move in 1807: they banned slavery. But because the business of abducting and selling Africans was so lucrative, many British companies still participated illegally.

So, Britain sent their Royal Navy after them. 

Commanding the seas, the Royal Navy stopped multiple ships from reaching their destination, intercepting not only British slave traders but ships from other nations, too, where trading remained legal.

Stopping these ships was no noble act. Fearing economic competition, they interfered with international transports and “recaptured” stolen Africans.

Where did they go? Most to Freetown in Sierra Leone.

A British colony primarily established by Black Loyalists and former slaves, Freetown housed numerous people from different regions, including about 50,000 “Recaptives,” or liberated Africans, dropped off from 1808 - 1850. 

Anglican missionaries who saw African cultures as inferior persuaded many to adopt Christianity and English. But conflict often arose amongst the diverse groups and the native inhabitants.

Those “white saviors” who initially set out to liberate abducted Africans essentially recaptured them and, in Freetown, forced them to create a culture that mirrored their own.

But, more than a century later, change would finally come.

In a move led mostly by the descendants of “Recaptives,” the varied groups in Sierra Leone put aside differences to collectively gain independence from Britain in 1961. 

You could say the Recaptives finally liberated themselves!

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