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The Account of The Zong Massacre

Inspired by Arthur Torrington.

A man called Luke Collingwood was the captain of the slave ship, the ‘Zong’

When a voyage from Africa to England went so terribly wrong.

The case opened the eyes of the British public to the selfish cruelty encountered by the enslaved -

And the evil, heartless manor in which enslave owners/traders behaved.

The Zong set sail on 6th September 1781, overloaded - the usual custom back then.

They were packed tight like sardines, women, children and the men.

They were force to contend with lack of food, water, exercise, dealing with insects and nits -

And experienced inhumane abuse while living with diseased victims in their midst.

Disease and malnutrition claimed the lives of seven white men by 29th November;

Of the sixty African enslaves that died, there was no mention of their gender.

In his book 'Black Slaves in Britain, Shyllon writes, ” Chained two by two, right leg and left leg,

Right hand and left hand, each slave had less room than a man in a coffin."

As I read this for the first time, tears from my eyes kept continuously dropping.


Shyllon also reports;the last ten victims sprang disdainfully from the grasp of their executioners, and leaped into the sea triumphantly embracing death.’

Imagine, if you were one of the slaves standing there, forced to observe the experience with the rest.’

Collingwood decided to throw slaves overboard, handcuffed AND ALIVE! Apparently to protect the enslaved and the crew.

Or, was it to qualify for insurance? Either way, what an awful, sadistic, barbaric thing to do!

Apparently, allowing the slaves to die of natural death on board would be very costly for him and his crew.

He attempted to use the law in his favour by throwing 123 enslaved overboard over a three-day span,

But when the owners attempted to claim for the murdered enslaved, the insurance brokers interfered with their plan.

They discovered that the claim that enslaves had to be thrown overboard due to water rations was false,

As on 1st December when the Zong passed through Jamaica, the captain had the opportunity to collect water on course.

Furthermore, on the 22nd of December, there were 420 gallons of water to spare,

Yet somehow Collingwood still felt he could justify gross neglect pain and despair.

The court case ‘Gegson v Gilbert’ was held in London around March 1783,;

The insurance brokers lost but went on to appeal the outcome as they did not agree.

The court accepted the request as there was insufficient information to justify the claim -

Yes, there was some hope of justice for the murdered victims and their horrendous strain.

An abolitionist, Olaudah Equiano heard about the case & brought it to the attention of Granville sharp;

Thereafter, Granville & Olaudah actively supported the case as the issue deeply touched their hearts.

The case was retried on 21st- 22nd May 1783. The owners did not attend, and therefore the insurance claim wavered.

As the publicity grew about the Zong case, abolitionists received new support and favour.

The lawsuit was not about the human right of the slaves, or what Collingwood and his crew put the enslaves through;

It was only a matter of a fraudulent insurance claim. The murder of 123 handcuffed enslaves was not even pursued.

I have only lightly covered basic areas of this case,

Therefore I strongly advise you to expand your research so that the remaining facts are not misplaced.

Remember, back in the day, the enslaved had no say whatsoever!

During the slave trade over 60 Million enslaves were killed for insurance claim

This inhumane barbaric treatment did not represent all whites, when the truth was revealed about the atrocities many whites were disgusted and stood up against it.

What about in the 21st Century?

Bear in mind that there are many injustices and atrocities that we are fully aware of and tolerate as we speak, yet still we do nothing. For example the illegal war against the Iraqis, the clothing enslaved trade, the food factory enslave trade, the human hair trade, etc. Do you discriminate against the colour of these people? Do you support suppression? Are you fighting against their human suffering? Are you an abolitionist like the black and white antislavery campaigners during the 18th and 19th centuries.? Just sharing food for thought.

Moving forward

Let’s examine what has history taught us? Many white people fiercely protested against slavery including the great John brown.

John Brown.

Who is John Brown? He was a devoted Christian that lived in the 18th century. He was a man who referred to black people as Mr and Mrs, he welcomed them to eat at his table. He resided among blacks, lived, worked and gave them jobs in his business, they were not a people beneath him, he viewed them as his brothers and sisters and he was prepared to die to end slavery. Meanwhile John continuously observed the evil consequences of slavery that his parents spoke about. His parents were also abolitionists and they taught him that ‘slavery is the sun of all villainies.’ John believed in and adhered to the biblical concept that all people are created equal.

(The life of John Brown is both interesting and inspiring, indeed he account is worthy of further study.)

Again I ask, what history has taught us?

Every time there has been progress in relation to human rights the mass is united.

Malcolm x inspired many but his goal was not fully accomplished.

Marcus Garvey inspired many but his goal was not fully accomplished.

But! The Zong inspired all races and brought about changes.

Harriet Tubman inspired all races and brought about changes.

The Harper’s raid inspired all races and brought about changes.

The Cristiana riot inspired all race and brought about changes

Fredrick Douglass inspired all races and brought about changes.

Rosa Parks inspired all races and brought about changes.

The Black Panthers inspired all races and people and brought about changes.

United we stand divided we fall.

Indeed we have a right to acknowledge historical facts but we live in a multicultural system, and history proves that there are good and bad people in all races. On my opinion, there is no moral justification to follow the same mentality as the enslave masters and traders, they were consumed with division, hatred, prejudice, discrimination and cruelty, solely based on their greed and the person's colour. A lack of humanity is barbaric regardless of race.

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