“Perhaps it was true. Maybe Allah lived only in my land, with the homelanders. Maybe he didn’t live on the toubabu’s ship or in the toubabu’s land. I said nothing. ” (Page 86) Aminata was eleven years old at the time. She was stuck on the ship with now where to go. Captured by the toubabu, she felt that she would never escape to freedom. She felt very desperate, to the point where she started to disbelieve in her lord, the almighty god that her father prayed towards, and felt that she should too. This proves to us the state the captives were in at the time they were captured.
Whenever she would try to praise Allah, a toubabu would strike her from the back and knock her on the floor. Aminata was very diligent and never thought that her right to pray and follow her religion would ever be taken away from her, but now away from Bayo, she had nothing-not even her freedom-. Reading between the lines in the quote, Aminata has been calling onto her lord seeking for his help. She believed that no man could help her out of this situation, but also believed that the god that created all mankind could help her.
She felt hopeless when situations were only getting worse, instead of getting better. She believed her lord would become her saviour, as she was one of the very few on the ship who followed the religion of Islam. Meena was heartbroken and felt down because in time she needed help, no one came for her. Moment after moment, things were getting worse and she was hopeless, thinking to why this was happening. “Got a slave mama, then you is slave. Got a slave daddy, then you is slave. Any nigger in you at all then you is slave as clear as day” (Page 134) This quote emphasizes the input society has on black Negros.
We can see that in the quote you would be marginalized and pushed away from society from the slightest nigger aspect in you. It follows you as far back as your ancestors. You are held accountable for the good names of your parents and those before them aswell. Even though the man Georgia is explaining to Meena is white, he is considered a slave because of his father who was a Negro one of the days. This quote relatively shows us the situation of Negros in at that period of time. They were considered “niggers” by society even if they were originally white but had a black ancestor.
If people knew about his history, they could slave him, and no one would be able to argue because those are the rules people implemented on black folks in those days. No rights at all were given to black folks as far as it went. Black folks thought of themselves as hopeless, they never imagined to escape the slavery and torture. Very few people had little hope in them for change. They were constantly put down by the toubabu and left in shame because of their skin colour or ancestors. The road to freedom seemed almost impossible to Meena at this point.
Even a white man who perhaps had a black ancestor could not retrieve his rights. “Slaves and free negroes together in Nova Scotia? ” he said, sucking his teeth. “Some promised land. ” (Page 249) Sings and posters were hung up everywhere in the States about a new territory that the British had recently found. The British were calling on upon any black man, woman, or child to join in the repopulation. The British got the attention of many Negros across the world, and mostly the States, advertising their promised land. They promised any Negro who would sail to Nova Scotia freedom and land.
This was a huge deal for many Negros living in poor conditions. They had no choice but to take the offer and whoever could travel went along. However, when they went along, the land that was said to be preserved for them was not heavenly at all. It was nothing like the promised land that had been advertised to them. Negroes and slaves could not believe that freedom could actually exist. Negros in desperate situations have been digging their way out escaping torture and heading to freedom. From this, they had not ever thought to receive help from any Toubabu.
No white man understood their pain and in which had no experience in how devastating their lives were. They could not believe themselves once they saw that freedom was not far away, as it was being advertised in nearby community recreation centres and on posters. “Bayo I could live without. But freedom, I would die” (Page 443) Aminata had just come back from her last chance in returning to her village. After she overheard the conversation about the slave-traders selling her, she escaped. She ran away from those who were going to sell her and earn a small profit.
Aminata thought she could trust the slave-traders and count on them to take her back to her hometown. Returning to Bayo was a dream of Meena’s. When she found the opportunity to get back and return to her prosperous homeland in which she grew up in, she could not resist- even if those taking her were her enemies. Moreover, in this quote we can see how Aminata values freedom; probably the highest priority on her list. She quotes in meaning, that freedom is something she can never go back too, but her hometown can wait. Out of everything else, Aminata compares Bayo with freedom which gives us a huge symbolic meaning.
Since she was captured from her hometown at the age of 11, she never thought she would return, and if she did after so many years it would be a miracle. Although after all this, she considers freedom a valuable possession; even more valuable than the town she grew up in. “It struck me as unbelievable that the toubabu would go to all this trouble to make us work in their land. Building the toubabu’s ship, fighting the angry waters, loading all these people and goods onto the ship-just to make us work for them? Surely they could gather their own mangoes and pound their own millet. Surely that would be easier than all this! (Page 62) White men would bring from Africa Negros, men, women, and children back to their own households in order to enslave them. They would bring the Negroes to work for them because they felt that they were better than them. A white man at that time had reached an unbelievable level of ignorance and worthiness. They believe that because of a Negros’s dark skin colour they should be looked down upon. The toubabu, known as the white men found themselves more worthy of working in the fields and therefore they thought to bring what they believed was lower than their kind to take their place.
More so, it feels shameful for a white man to work in an indigo plantation or rice harvesting, but diffidently not shameful for a black man to take on that sort of work! White men look upon their kind as beautiful and precious since their skin colour was so limited, that even if they would have to do all this work- build the toubabu ship, fight the angry waters, and load the people and goods onto the ship- that it would be worth it. For the above reasons, toubabu men believed that they were free and that black folks were not- and never would be.