Oldest known slave ship discovered by Black scuba diver
The discovery of the slave ship will be featured in a documentary
A Royal African Company ship that carried more African slaves to the Americas than any other institution in the history of the Atlantic slave trade, was discovered buried underneath the sea by a Black scuba driver.
In a new documentary called Enslaved, Kramer Wimberley, a member of the board of directors of Diving with a Purpose (DWP), a diving organization that preserves African architects lost in the sea, unearth fragments of a slave trade ship.
The significance of Royal African Company is that they traded more than 12 million Africans to the Atlantic in 45,000 voyages, more than 400 years ago, the Guardian reported.
Not many slaves survived those voyages. Of the 65,411 Africans trafficked to the Caribbean, 14,668 died at sea, having been chained in cramped hulls.
“Most of the Africans were seized in Whydah in Benin, Calabar in Nigeria, Gambia and the Gold Coast in modern Ghana. The enslaved ended up sold to plantation owners in Barbados, Jamaica, Nevis, Virginia and Antigua,” Wimberley said.
“Wrecks should be used as museums for memory and education. In this case, the future’s chances of bearing witness to the horrors of the slave trade are fading fast. It’s a double tragedy,” Dr. Sean Kingsley, Director of the Centre for East-West Maritime Exploration, said.
Wimberley felt conflicted trying to save the ship that enslaved his own kind.
“The story of the slave trade is world history. England was involved in it, Portugal, the French and Dutch were involved in it, the Africans were involved in it. It’s a world shame. If that wreck’s the final resting place of some of my ancestors, then it’s a burial ground,” Wimberley said.
“But it’s also a crime scene because they were taken. There was an injustice that took place, and no one has ever been brought to account. I want justice for those people. Archaeology can make sure we never forget,” he continued.
The ship is one out of 500 that was despatched by the Royal African Company to West Africa between 1672 and 1713.
As theGrio previously reported, Samuel L. Jackson is the host and executive producer on Enslaved.
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