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 Liberated Africans on the island of McCarthy
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Posted - 16 Aug 2020 :  21:15:43  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote

By Dembo Fatty

Students of management may, sometime during their training, have been exposed to the subject of delegation and the reason why i have dedicated my today's weekly sunday snippet to the subject is to review the resettlement of Liberated Africans on the island of McCarthy.

When McCarthy was bought the second time on April 14, 1823, it was for resettlement of liberated Africans in the high seas. These liberated Africans were processed at the current grounds of Albert Market in Banjul and then settled some 200 kilometres away.

I had always wondered why many of these people died so quickly and why the remaining population quickly disappeared from the island.

I have read in some accounts that these people were not familiar with the climate, or the diet or because of mosquitoes until I read the accounts of Macbrair, a Wesleyan missionary.

He was one of a few, if not the only European in Gambia who exposed the cruelties of colonialism. He was never a friend of colonial officials.

In as much it was well intentioned to resettle these Africans, the colonial office did not do a good follow up regarding the scheme and many of the officials on the grounds cared less about them so that in the end, many perished.

Initially, i thought they were mainly Ghanaians and Nigerians but i have read accounts of nearly 28 African languages were spoken on the island .

The colonial officials first developed hatred for the mission to the extent of instigating burning down the residence of a Liberated African turned missionary simply because some European found the location of his house strategic and wanted his land which was legally assigned to John Cupidon, the liberated African.

Some Liberated Africans were served rum, and overseers appointed with whips to ensure that the Liberated Africans destroyed Cupidon's house.

It was black on black while the Commandant of the island quietly left his residence to create the impression that he was not around even though Macbrair did inform him of a planned destruction of the residence of Mr. Cupidon.

Yes, they may have escaped the whips on the slave ships to the Americas but had their own from the overseers.

This would have been in contravention of the conditions of asylum granted to them in Bathurst.

The Lieutenant Governor refused to issue a warrant but also the Colonial Secretary who was also the chief judge of the colony.

A blatant disregard for the very policy that made them who they were; employees in the service of the Crown to protect and defend the rights of these Liberated Africans.

No wonder the scheme failed with many lives lost. In the end, the deaths that would have occurred in the bowels of the slave ships on the Voyage of No Return, did mature on the island. They were in my opinion wrongly classified as Liberated Africans because they had no liberty on the island.

They were simply traded from one master to another as forced labour was legalized in colonial Gambia.

And in the words of Macbrair regarding slavery and slave trade:

"and for such deeds of cruelty as these, European and American slave-dealers have to answer at the bar of God, since it is they who incite the naturally-peaceful African to violence and murder in procuring slaves".

Perhaps the only westerner willing to tell the truth that slavery and slave trade were engineered and the violence sustained by the West.

The lesson here for all Managers is that when you assign a responsibility, it is not just enough to assume that the best employee was assigned the task. It does not hurt to do follow ups ensuring that the employee is on course.

There must be review mechanisms in place to ensure that the information and updates you receive are in fact the reality. TRUST BUT VERIFY in the words of Reagan.

Create an avenue for complaints and grievance handling. In the case of these Liberated Africans, they had none. The church they depended on was in fact receiving the brunt of the harassment.

If you have not reviewed your policies for a while, now is a good time to do so. Sometimes organisations fail not because of lack of policies but because of them.

You are all wished a productive work week in advance and please do wash your hands, wear a mask and observe social distancing.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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