The Maffa or The Middle Passage

Sunday, 09 July 2006

Maffa which means disaster, calamity or terrible occurrence in Kiswahili, is used to refer to the loss of an estimated 100 million people, who were taken against their will from the continent of Africa into bonded labour. Sadly, many of died during the Transatlantic Slave Trade or Middle Passage, which began in the early 15th Century.


The Maffa, now recognised as the African holocaust, was the middle leg or passage in the journey  where people were taken from Africa in slave ships to their final destination of former British colonies also known as the New World.

To maximize profit the merchants involved in this trade in human lives carried as many people as possible on their ships. Those who had been captured for transport were chained together by their hands and feet with little room to move.  During the passage which lasted for 50 days or more, people were forced to live like animals, caged in spaces so tight that they could barely move. Many were crippled for life as a consequence of the way they were chained on the ship.

Those caught in up this industry of human trafficking suffered unimaginable horrors, chained in bowels of the slave ships amidst rats, vomit, excrement,  sickness and disease. A large number of people died on this journey and were left chained to those still alive for the duration of the voyage. 

The middle passage took millions of victims from Africa into  chattel slavery, in the West Indies, North America, South America, and the countries of Europe. This period lasted over 300 years during which black people were subject to systematic and violent oppression.


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