the flag following the Bible rather than the Bible following the flag, as would happen later.

It was under Butscher's plan that Governor Maxwell (1811-15) organized an administrative scheme for the resettling of re-captives who were arriving in the colony in increasing numbers. In 1807 Freetown's population was 1,871, including ninety-five military personnel. In the census of April 1811, it had increased to around 3,500, thanks to an influx of re-captives. In July 1814 there was a further big jump to 5,520 re-captives. In a report drawn on 31 December 1818, the number of re-captives was put at 6,406. The total population, including settlers, was about 17,300 in 1816. The rapid rise in these figures is not due exclusively, if at all, to the British Naval Squadron becoming more effective at seizing slave ships, but, more ominously, to the uncomfortable fact that the pace of the slave trade had quickened since, and in spite of, the legal abolition of the trade, so that there were more slave ships to be seized. It is, for example, estimated that during 1810 alone some 80,000 slaves were illegally shipped across the Atlantic, mostly to markets in Brazil, Cuba, and the southern United States. It was this demographic pressure felt in the Freetown peninsula that Governor Maxwell was asked to address, though the task fell to his successor, Sir Charles MacCarthy, who for that purpose devised an effective network of supervised village settlements, called the Parish Scheme - though it is questionable if such a scheme was appropriate for the sea-borne indigenous influx it sought to channel.

With energy and imagination, MacCarthy, a Roman Catholic by background, took up the task that fell to him, and responded to Butscher's call for a genuine partnership between mission and government in the cause of African rehabilitation. The re-captives were farmed out to newly created villages on the peninsula, each village directed by a clergyman. There was a chapel, with required attendance, which during the week would also serve as a school. Before 1815 there were three such villages: Leicester, founded in 1809; Wilberforce (formerly Cabenda), established in 1810; and Regent (formerly Hogbrook), founded in 1812. Between 1815 and 1820, ten more villages were created to absorb the newcomers, among them Kissy and Gloucester in 1816; Charlotte and Leopold (the latter renamed Bathurst) in 1817, and Wellington, Hastings, and Waterloo in 1819. Afterthe disbanding of the Royal African Corps in 1819, the demobilized troops were resettled appropriately in Gibraltar Town in recognition of the servicemen who had served in Gibraltar.

These parish-style villages transformed Freetown into a black diaspora, and Freetown became a Caribbean-style cultural settlement on African soil, an auspicious crossroad of indigenous and western ideas. African re-captives

0 0

Post a comment