Enslaved: People of the Historic Slave Trade
by Angela Ouma
Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
The freedom narratives project personifies this African proverb, "the hunter' being European colonisers who have long dominated the literature on slavery for centuries. This insular approach misses out on the gruesome details of the humiliation, torture, cruelty experienced by those who were enslaved. Through the project, "the lion", those who have long been silenced are now given a voice. The aim of the freedom narrative project which is funded by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is to share personal first-hand narratives of those who were enslaved in West Africa at some point during the 16th to 19th century. Their accounts are revealed through, testimonies, stories, police archives, court records and other available sources.
Professor Paul Lovejoy, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History from 2000 to 2015, is the project director. Lovejoy who has made significant contributions to this field by dedicating decades of research as well as publishing many books on enslaved people of African descent makes him beyond suitable as the historian in charge.
In collaboration, Michigan State University, supported by a generous grant of $1.5 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is in the process of generating an online data hub. The online hub will connect seven websites on slavery and the African diaspora (one of them being the Freedom Narratives project), will allow scholars, students and the general public to access information about enslaved Africans online for free.