Kofi - Life in the Americas
The women tell me that I am almost a man now and Mr Jones says that tomorrow I will work with the men in the fields. I see what happens there and dread tomorrow. The overseer is an evil man who will do anything to make people scared, sick or hungry. He's too fat to move quickly so uses a gun. The men who came here with me have mostly died. Master has arguments with him sometimes but that just means he is sneakier. Maybe I can escape in the night.
An engraving of a Brazilian sugar plantation.
People worked in the fields from around 6am until 6pm. The land and crops had to be cleared, hoed, planted, tended and then harvested. This was backbreaking work in the baking heat, done while being beaten and whipped. Sugar also had to be processed in the dangerous, hot and humid mill. Slaves were usually underfed as well so were particularly weak. It is not surprising that so many died through disease, accidents and violence.
The overseer was the person who supervised the slaves while they worked. He was usually white but some were promoted slaves who were often as cruel as the white overseers.
Many slaves caught deadly diseases like cholera, flu or small pox. Others had fatal accidents and some even killed themselves to escape their misery.
Many slaves were killed by white men. White people who murdered black people were not punished. Slaves were thought of as property and did not have even basic human rights. In many cases the death was considered a punishment and a good way to deter other troublemakers.