Slave Ship Research - Slaveship Meermin

Slave Ship MEERMIN                                                                                by Stephen Scruggs
The Henrietta Marie and the Guerrero are two well-documented slave ships from a time in our history that has eluded us. In addition, the story of the Amastad and the heroics of Cinque who led a rebellion against his captors was made into a major motion picture. After over two hundred years of slavery and over twelve million slaves there are many stories yet to be told regarding the thousands of ships that endured the Middle Passage. PBS recently produced a documentary about another slave ship named the Meermin and an enslaved Madagascan king named Massavana. This story doesn’t take place on the journey between Capetown, South Africa (the staging area for the slave trade) and the Americas but rather on the shorter leg between Madagascar and Capetown in January 1766. The rebellion led by Massavana began when a few of the 140 slaves were allowed on deck for health reasons and amazingly they were entrusted with six spears to clean, because their captors believed they didn’t have the capacity to think.
During times of slavery Capetown had over seven thousand inhabitants of which over two thirds were slaves. This resulted in the majority of Capetown’s current population being direct descendants of captured slaves. The PBS documentary details the modern-day efforts of a Capetown heritage activist named Lucy Campbell who wants to keep the history of "South Africa’s first freedom fighter" alive. The documentary also introduces us to a marine biologist/diver named Yaco Basoff who is currently searching for the Meermin on Cape Agulhas off the coast of Capetown. Using a crop duster equipped with a magnetometer he is combing an area containing over two hundred shipwrecks to determine where to begin his underwater search for the ship’s remains.
You can hear their story and learn more about where Massavana’s life ended and where our history began through the following link:


Last Updated (Saturday, 28 January 2012 17:50)