The Sugar Trade has a bad history starting in the 15th century, when Europeans discovered the New World. We know the story of how the English, Spanish, French, Portuguese & Dutch took Africans to the Caribbean, South America and Southern American States.
Slaves were used to plant and manufacture different produce, like; coffee, tobacco, cocoa, cotton and of course european sugar in sugar mills. The Sugar Barons used the tropical climate of the West Indies to grow sugar cane. Production and sugar prices soared during the 17th century & 18th century. 70% of all slaves were producing sugar by the 19th century.
Being of African descent this has always been of interest to me, from the time I was a young boy watching the first ‘ROOTS’ series on TV, and watching my mum cry.
This isn’t just about the slave trade but I wanted to write a series of articles about the sugar industry and the history of refined sugar, and to do so I had to start at the very beginning.
This hopefully will enable you the reader to see the full picture.
The Middle Passage
Much has been written about how slaves were taken and treated on their way to the new world. Imagine being sat with your family one day or night and hearing the sound of armed strangers enter your village. These were fellow Africans who were paid or under duress themselves to capture you and your families.
You were then taken to the coast to await sale. When bought you were herded into the bowels of a ship laden with other cargo. You were laid down and tied up. You had limited food and water if any at all, and no toilets. Disease spread in the hot stinking cramped conditions.
The “Middle Passage” could take about 3 weeks if the weather was good, if the weather was bad well much longer or worse the ship would sink.
These slave ships didn’t have it all their own way, many times they were taken over by the slaves, who killed all on board.