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“The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill Essay

Book review Lawrence Hill is a Canadian novelist and memoirist. He is best known for the 2001 memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada and then in 2007 his latest and most famous award winning novel The Book of Negroes. The amazing description of the whole story causes one to see the desolate conditions of the slave boats and feel the pain of every person brought into slavery. Anyone would agree with the with The Globe and Mail’s interpretation of this story. Lawrence Hill created an irresistible story that depicts the hard ships, emotional turmoil and bravery when he wrote The Book of Negroes. When one is exposed to The Book of Negroes he/she does not realize the amount of emotional turmoil the African people are about to face. At the first peek, the village of Bayo seems to be a suitable place to live. People were working, children playing; life was normal to them. Aminata Diallo the main character was captured as a slave at age 11 along with her parents. They tried to save her but were killed in the attempt. While she was held captive living conditions were not pleasant, “We walked all day. No water. No food. No breaks to pee. If you had to go, you had do it and keep walking with the urine running down your sore legs and burning your broken skin” is what Aminata said of the experience.

The slaves had to walk for months until they arrived at a boat to be shipped off to England. Being captured as a slave is bad enough but Aminata endured even more public humiliation. Imagine walking through school naked in front of your own peers, that would be extremely shameful and embarrassing; that is what Aminata had to endure, pure humiliation and embarrassment. Aminata herself describes her journey as an abducted eleven-year-old from her native homeland Africa to a South Carolina plantation, then to New York, Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone and finally to London over the years she even learnt how to read and write English and was quite a reader she lost many loved ones during the journey, any one would feel mournful after listening to her harsh story. When she grew old she became involved, as the “face” of the campaign, in the British movement to abolish the slave trade (not slavery). Aminta’s death is imminent at the end of the novel, but she will die having fought for her people’s freedom using the tools of the west, public opinion and the law. She had found her stolen daughter and witnessed the British Parliament pass the bill to abolish the trade in slaves in 1807. Her Death reminds me of quote I read in the novel which stood out to me “

Earth to earth ashes to ashes dust to dust ;insure and certain hope of resurrection into eternal life,” It means that we come from dust; we return to dust. That death is merely a transition and that we will return and live with God in eternity. Anyone would feel sorrowful for this poor girl Aminata. Reading the novel is worth spending time on, I would recommend this novel to everyone capable of reading. I wish I could change her fate and somehow lead her back to Bayo. Historical Globalization had provoked the slave trade which brought tragedies to many like Aminata, the same developments which eased the flow of labor, goods and capital among nation across globe have made the slave trade easier, with globalization and cheap transportation, you can move people easier and quicker, of course, the technological advances that were involved in globalization also made the slave trade easier. But, as always unintended negative consequences of human discovery are common.

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