After many days of being locked up in that cage, some white men came out from the belly of the monster canoe. I was astonished at this amazing feat, of how they managed to escape the monster. This soon converted into terror when the white men unlocked each cage in turn, and one by one as we walked out they counted us and took us across in big canoes to the monster, we all wanted to escape, but we knew we would be shot dead if we dared rebel. My sister was clinging on to me and I was sore from where she had me digging her sharp nails in to me for the past week or so. We were made to paddle the boat along, and when we were side by side with the monster we were made to climb up its massive sides with guns pointed at us, so we didn’t try to escape. When we were on top, I looked up and saw long pole that touched the clouds in the bright blue sky. Hanging off there were long pieces of the finest white cloth ever seen by a Mandinka warrior. I saw the native men that captured us being given pieces of what seemed to be shiny pieces of metal, gold and silver in colour. They were given bags of this each by a tall white man in elaborate clothing. He was shouting at the white men who were pushing us into the belly of the monster. As me and my sister reached the front of the queue, we were separated. I was pushed hard into the belly of the monster. She was taken away down another part of the ship. I guess they were separating me and women as well as children from each other. I felt so upset being separated from her. I knew we couldn’t survive without each other. I walked down lots of steep steps into the dark belly of the monster. My eyes were so used to the bright light of the mid-day sun I couldn’t see a thing. A man was waiting for us. He put chains around my wrists and ankles. And then he shoved me underneath one of the shelves and made sure I was in my own small space. It was the same length of me by the width of 3 large coconuts laid side to side lengthways. When the whole ship filled up it got really hot. I thought I was going to die right then, but I didn’t. The men either side of me scared me, and there was barely any room to turn over. I kept thinking of what could have been, of my old life, and what may happen. Many days past in that stinking belly of a monster. We just lay there all day, rocking gently from side to side. The whit people came down to feed us twice a day. We were also give a large jug of water each once a day at breakfast, if you can even call it that. They were drunk and kept bumping in to the sides of the compartments. They gave us this kind of gruel which was made of what the white people called maize. As I am a good listener, I managed to learn a few words of their language, yet I dare not speak it loud. The other men captured would think I was betraying them or that I was just like the white man if I spoke their language. Everyone had to go to the toilet where they were, and it all piled up down at the bottom. It was disgusting, and for the first few days you could do absolutely nothing about it. It was really hot down there, and there little chance of getting any fresh air at all. After around five days, the white men came down and took the chains off us and in groups; they took us up on to the top of the monster. We were forced into a big group all huddled together. I looked out at the side and there was no bank. This was some river. It was so big the banks were absolutely no where to be seen. I later found out it was called the sea and I was shocked at how vast it was. The white men then got a bucket of water from the big river and chucked it at us. We all screeched out in agony, as the salty water got into all the cuts we had got so far. Then some other white people came up to us one by one and scrubbed us briefly with a really prickly brush. It made my body hurt even more. Then I noticed one of our people being taken up towards a drum and was made to play it. They then made us jump around in a kind of way that was like a tribal celebration dance, while white men walked around us, whipping us when they thought necessary and sometimes just for fun it seemed. The whip really hurt and it gave me a bruise the whole way around my ankles. They then took us down below deck and chained us back up. I noticed that our compartments had been cleared of the majority of dirt that had piled up. It was the best thing that had happened since we entered the monster, but that isn’t really saying much though. This routine happened two or three times a week when it was dry weather. After a couple of weeks, I noticed for the first time there were rats on board. All night they bit me. They just wouldn’t go away no matter how much I pushed them back. My skin had lots of swollen lumps the next morning which were very sore. I plucked up the courage a few nights later to talk to the person on my left. He was Mandinka. I asked the person on my right, but when I tapped him gently on the shoulder, he rolled over towards me dead. I told the other person by my side what had just happened, and he said that that had happened to the person next to him a few nights ago, and the body was removed later. I felt sick. Yet I shouted to the whole of the people in this part of the monster who was Mandinka, and there were many replies. We talked for much of the day and the night, planning our escape and how we take control of the monster and kill the white men. We decided we would do it a few weeks from now, so we could teach as many people as possible our language that the majority of the captured spoke. I did not have to teach any one Mandinka, although I wanted to. Back at home I taught my cousins lots of things like talking , climbing and fire making. The next day there was what was called a squall. The ship was shaken about lots and lots, and there was a loud sound a few times a minute which sounded by a drum which was thunder. There was also a flash every so often just before the thunder, called lightening. I was quite afraid because I couldn’t see any thing where I was. It lasted 4 night and 3 days. All that time being moved violently around, making it almost impossible to sleep and the chains rubbed even more against my skin.
I overheard the captain and the first mate speaking just above me. The captain’s name was Captain Phillips, and the first mate was called Luke Collingwood. I remembered every word they said and when I finally learnt English I understood it. This is what they said from what I remember now. They said we were heading for the west Indies in America to sell their cargo, which must have meant us people in the monster, and to buy some goods at small prices to sell back home at high prices to the better off or the higher class. Exports such as coal, cloth, glass, guns and other desirable items made in huge factories in England were traded for slaves in Africa. The slaves were then sold to American plantation owners in America, while the money made by the people on the sips were used to buy goods such as sugar, rice, coffee, tobacco rum and cotton to sell back at high prices to wealthy people back in England. You could made anything up to 3000% profit and you could become very rich, very quickly. The captain said he chose tight pack because he wanted lots of slaves to sell, and even though there was a higher risk of disease wiping out huge numbers, if they were chucked over board he could claim back lots of cash for them, off their insurance. So if he washed the cargo and cleaned their living compartments, he should be o.k. They were dealing in slaves because they could make more money than in any other job they could have got in England. They can afford to have a taste of such desirable items such as sugar. They could also get away from the wife for around 6 months, so they could get into lots of trouble and do almost anything, and the wife would be none the wiser. Apparently there were also many perks to the job such as belly warmers that they couldn’t get anywhere else without being kicked out by the wife. Their attitude their cargo is better than other slave ship people apparently. The cargo is savage because they don’t know any better. That is what they were taught, so you can’t expect them to change instantly. They need lots of time and help. I think they are a bit like us, the captain said, but a few hundred years behind, if you know what I mean. We just need to show them we are in charge, and they’ll learn soon enough. It’s not like we would want this done to us but it s all for a good cause. They will be taken to a nice home in America and looked after. They will be fed and given shelter. Their will be better off where they are going. We are saving them from a worse off fait in Africa, where they could be eaten by savage cannibals. I felt angry at what they said. They were going to sell us, their precious cargo, so they could become rich. It isn’t dangerous back home if you are careful. And how will we be better off? And what are the perks of the job? I hope that doesn’t involve my sister or my aunt. They think they are being kind, and they even said they wouldn’t want to be in our situation. I think they’re just in it for the money. The selfish, ugly idiots. Our routine of breakfast, boredom and frustration, pain and suffering, washing and dancing then dinner continued for many days. Each time we were washed the cuts newly made from the chains rubbing against me and from all of the rats stung more and more. That day when we were in the fresh air which burnt my throat, we saw a dead body being brought up from below. It was kicked and punched, and not even given a second of respect before being chucked over the side into the sea, where a fin of a shark was waiting.
Then about 12 young girls and women started running around the deck, trying to avoid the white men that wanted to capture them. My sister was one of them. I called out to her, but it took lots of calls for her to hear me. She managed to come close for a few minutes so we could talk. We hugged and hugged, before she decided to tell me the awful things the white people had made her do, many of which were unsuitable for a lady of her age. She was then spotted and dragged back under deck. 3 women were left, chained together. They seized this opportunity while the white men were not facing them, to jump over the side of the monster into the bright blue river below between nets of green. The captain then came up to one of the white men that should have stopped them and started to punch and kick him til he was bleeding all over. He said her would give him a severe punishment if it happened again. From what I could gather he would be tied up and dragged underneath the ship, across the whole length without any clothes. I still do not understand the painful part of this, but it meant something to the beaten whit man, so he got up and continued with his work, whipping us. The next time they brought us up, which was about 6 days after that incident it was time. Everyone was in unbelievable agony, but that wouldn’t stop us trying. 6 weeks into the journey was the planned time for mutiny. Now nearly all of the men and older boys in this part of the monster understood Mandinka well enough to carry out our plan. That day when we were taken up when the sun as shining high in the clouds which were touched by the huge poll beside me from the monster. Everyone played along with the washing and dancing. Then we all grabbed the five white men guarding us and kicked them to the floor, and took their knifes and whips. We then tried to kill as many people that were white as we could. It was actually working. There was just the captain, his first mate, and to others left. But all of a sudden, one of the white people with his last breath shot a very big gun at the big group of us. Shards of metal want everywhere, and many of us were shot down to the floor in dire pain. Many were killed, but me and a few others near the back of the crowd survived. We were immediately taken to the side of the ship by some of the guards that were below deck at the time of the incident. They started to whip our arms and legs, and hen drew blood with a knife. They stopped the bleeding as they didn’t want their precious cargo dead unnecessarily, before being taken back to our compartments. There was a distinct lack of people around now; which was sad yet good because it would be cleaner. I overheard the captain saying there had been a break out of small pox in the younger boys’ compartment, and they had chucked many of the ill overboard so it didn’t spread and to claim insurance for them, which would be more than their selling price at auction if they was ill. The man next to me was killed during the fight, and that made me really angry, but I knew there was nothing I could do as the white men had guns, and could therefore win. So I just kept quiet and just continued with our torture for the last few weeks.