The Story of Modou – Chapter 1 – Kidnap!

Hello. My name is Modou and this is the story of how I became a slave, what it was like on the slave ship and to be sold, to where I finally ended up on a plantation. I am now 42 years old, but at the time of my capture I was only 14. I was born in the year of 1752.  I came from Sifo village, one of the most powerful in our region of Africa. My father was the Headman of our Mandinka tribe. My mother died when I was 8. My father said a white man shot her with what the white people called a gun, and I should fear the white people but also learn how to fight them. Ever since my aunt was like a mother to me and my sister, and my father always took me hunting so I could learn how to become a man and be strong enough to fight should the white men return. I first saw a white man a few weeks before my capture. I went to do some trading with another village with my father and some other men from the tribe. All of a sudden I heard a large bang when we were almost there. In front of me I watched in horror whilst a white man shot a young girl who was running away from him. I felt so sad. The whit man was wearing the most unusual outfit I had ever seen. It consisted of long green trousers with lots of pockets, and one hanging around his waist that he pulled the gun out of. He also wore a green top and a beige coloured jacket which was slightly see through. My father shouted at me to run, but I could not. Then the white man turned around and saw me. I fear he would have shot me to if my father had not come along and pulled me out of the way. All we could do then was run and run and run until we were far away from those evil people. About two weeks later my father went out hunting without me as he said it was not safe for me to follow anymore. My aunt needed some firewood, so I took my little sister with me. We walked quite far from the village as I knew where the best trees were. As I started to cut off some branches, I heard a rustling sound. I looked around but there was nothing there, except my sister picking up sticks. I told her to come closer to me, to keep safe. I started to cut more and more branches off a couple of trees that were very close to each other. That’s when I heard some more strange sounds. It was like another language being spoken. I picked up as much of the wood as I could and so did my sister, then we ran as fast as we could. The next thing I know, two strangers, that were obviously native because of their dark complexion, had grabbed me and my sister by the ankles and we were hanging upside down. A third man appeared from nowhere and loosely tied some rope around my sister to keep her still. Then the third man came up to me. I noticed the colour of his skin – it was white. At this point I was so scared I could barely move, and I was only just still breathing. My heart was racing. I could hear it pounding under the sound of the third mans heavy boots as he slowly came up to me. As quick as a flash he put these metal things around my arms and feet. I was dropped on the floor, and somehow found the strength to try to struggle free. But it was all in vein. As much as I screamed and struggled, pulled and pushed I could not get them off. I knew I was stuck. The three men chucked my sister on top of me and surrounded us, and began laughing at us, and kicking us. A short time later they picked us off the ground and forced us to walk where they wanted to go. All the time the white man kept a sharp eye on us, with a gun pointed at my head. They led us to the most horrific site I had ever seen. Hundreds of people from surrounding tribes all tied up and marching forwards, with their heads secured in place by criss-crossing branches. As they went past, I saw all my friends that had gone to visit another tribe and hadn’t returned for several days, and when I thought it couldn’t get any worse I saw my aunt, all cut and crying. I will never be able to forget her face, and the look of despair and anger she showed. It will scar me forever. They led us up to the back and added us to the line of people. I was so scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I tried to comfort my sister as much as I could, but I could tell from the look in her eyes we were both as frightened as each other. We were forced to march a long, long way. All the way to the blue in the horizon. Each day it got closer and closer. But each day the marks where we had been whipped to keep us moving turned into cuts and started to bleed each time we were whipped. I hated it. Yet I knew in my heart the worst part was yet to come. After about 5 days we reached a wide river. On it was the scariest looking thing I had ever seen. It looked like a monster canoe with pieces of the finest cloth ever to be seen where I came from, hanging off it. We were pushed into small cage-like structures made from wood. The white people crammed as many of us into one as they could. Luckily my sister was still with me at this point and I hugged here so tight, and I just didn’t want to let go. I looked around the crowded area we were in, and saw my aunt, holding on to a man. It couldn’t be, could it, I thought. I shouted out to my aunt but she did not hear me over all the screams and cries of everyone else. My father looked up at me. There was no need for him to speak as I could tell by the way he was looking at me how he felt. Anger at me and the white people, sadness, fright and despair, sorrow, hopelessness. Many days past and all we could do was stare at the wide blue river in front of us, and comfort my sister so she could get to sleep at night. It was hot and damp even though there were lots of gaps for us to breath through, the cramped condition meant you couldn’t move without accidentally kicking the person next to you. Out of this grew frustration, and many of the men near me and my sister looked they were about to seriously injure whoever angered him next. I spent time wondering whether other people from our tribe had been captured, and wondering maybe, just maybe if say one or two escaped. I felt like crying every time I thought about them, knowing I would never see them again. Knowing that we couldn’t even say goodbye, and that one day, if they are not careful, they will suffer the same fait as us. But I had to keep strong, well at least look it for my sister. I don’t know how she would have coped if she had been on her own. Maybe she would have ended up like that girl I saw, a few weeks back, being shot by the white man holding a gun. A single tear drop began to roll down my face, and that night I lay awake for a long time, before drifting off to sleep where I dreamt about what could have been back home.

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