Journey: The Story of Aminata Diallo


Image: Stowage of the British slave ship 'Brookes' under the Regulated Slave Act of 1788. Engraving, c1790. (The Granger Collection)

Image: Aminata's journey began in West Africa, where he would return many years later.

In the novel The Book of Negroes, Aminata endures great hardship but is able to maintain her spirit and resolve. One thing she does is use names as a means of empowering herself and her fellow slaves. As Lawrence Hill said:

To have somebody else say your name is like saying, “I acknowledge your humanity,” while you are trapped in a totally dehumanizing process. I was very touched as I tried to envisage these scenes where people were desperate to have their names be said and stories told.

How else might slaves have acted in order to preserve their spirits?

Writing Activity: Using Primary Sources

After discussing the obstacles and challenges faced by enslaved Africans represented by Aminata, write a journal entry that reflects the historical record and experience of a person sold into slavery. Writing should include references to place names, dates and people in order to bring some historical authenticity to the journal entry.

Consider conducting some research before beginning by consulting some of the following primary resources:

An excerpt from Olaudah Equiano’s biography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, published in 1789.

An excerpt from An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa by British slave ship surgeon Alexander Falconbridge, written in 1788.

Excerpts from The Journal of a Slave Trader by slave ship captain John Newton, 1750-1754.

Memoirs of Boston King, A Black Preacher – originally published in 1798, available in full for download and in different formats.

Clarkson's Mission to America, 1791-1792 by abolitionist John Clarkson.

An Account of the Life of Mr. David George, autobiography by Black Loyalist David George, published 1790–93.

Works Progress Administration collection of slave narratives recorded in the 1930s.

Additional resources on the history of enslavement in Canada.