Oluwale [Cudjoe] Kazoola Lewis born 1841 in a large village in southern Dahomey [now Benin] in West Africa.
The white slavers and their native informants attack Cudjoe's village early in the morning. The people run to the north, to the south, to the east and to the west trying to run from the white slavers and their native informants who in this case are the princes of Dahomey and their army. Cudjoe is captured along with many others. The Trans Atlantic trade in Africans is now illegal but there are a few or maybe many who continue. The Clotilda, one of the last ships to transport enslaved Africans to the United States arrives in Alabama in late 1859. This is the story told by Cudjoe Lewis to Zora Neale Hurston in Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"
Africa Town, Mobile, Alabama
"Oh, Lor. I no see Afficky soil no mo!"
I time traveled with the help of Zora Neale Hurston and a visit to Africa Town just outside Mobile Alabama. This is the community created by Cudjoe and his fellow Africans when they were told they were "free". Here we have to imagine what that freedom was and how it was negotiated. What was the struggle - because we know it was a struggle against Anti-Blackness and remains so. Today the struggle is against toxic waste.
Here lies Oluwale Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis. Here live his descendants.
Stagville, Durham, North Carolina
Two weeks ago I timed travelled again. Through another living history of the United States, plantations of enslaved people, freedom and a lingering Anti-Blackness that will just not die! A sole finger print embedded in the brick. Built by enslaved ancestors who became free and built these homes and community and thrived.