Africans enslaved fight for freedom from British rule
The topic of how people from the African continent were kidnapped and forced into performing services and producing goods is dealt with more in detail in the section that discusses major turning points in our human history [Transformations theme]. When discussing the topic of sovereignty though, we need to understand these concepts.
1. When Africans were forced out of their homes and brought to the Americas to work on plantations, in the case of Belize to work in mahogany camps, they were removed from living a life with their own concept of what sovereignty meant for them as a community. They were brought here to live under a rule imposed on them.
2. They were free Africans before being turned into slave, it was not slaves being brought to work as slaves.
3. They did oppose the rule imposed on them by their European masters. In some cases they revolted to try regaining their freedom and in some cases they were trying to overthrow their masters to establish their own sovereignty over their communities. In one radical instance, the slaves that revolted against their masters in the French colony of St. Domingue [now the country of Haiti] were successful at creating an entirely new independent sovereign nation with leaders from their own.
4. Some slaves would run away to try and establish their own independent communities, an act referred to as marronage.
Belizean history included stories of these four concepts mentioned above. An example of an instance where African slaves were successful at running away from their slave masters and establishing their own independent community is what occurred at Gales Point Manatee in southern Belize. This community was founded by Africans that ran away from slavery and were able to live away from British rule for a period their history. They were free to select their own leaders and live a life they felt was best suited for them. There is evidence to suggest other maroon villages existed in Belize, but the details of these other communities still remain out of the discussion of our national history.
There are also instances in Belizean history when Africans took up arms or other weapons against their slave masters. Nigel Bolland in his book ‘Colonialism and Resistance in Belize’ cites two instances of slave revolts that could be classified as major slave revolts that worried the British settlers. One occurred in 1772 which lasted for about five months and another in 1820 which lasted for over a month. The revolt of 1820 was led by two men only known as Will and Sharper. Other revolts occurred but the details of those also remain uncertain.