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September 2018 – Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”

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I would argue that the work had two protagonists: Hurston herself because of her goal to keep Kossola talking and thereby transcribe his life to text, and the other being Kossola because the text was his story, and wow, what a story. There was so much grief in such a small work – loss of family, loss of community, loss of health, and the loss home. And equally as painful as the grief was Kossala’s remembering the part Africans / Dahomey played in the slave trade.  Kossala’s goal was to stay alive, and his antagonist was the Peculiar Institution of American Slavery with its long reaching and lasting tentacles of racism. He was kidnapped, placed in a barracoon, a slave ship, and on an auction block (all life threatening situations) due to American slavery. I believe, the establishment of Africatown, was his strongest blow against the reaching effects of slavery; freed slaves reestablished an African community on hostile American soil; that was miraculous.  Kossala didn’t die due to slavery, but he suffered during and after; the lashes of racism ripped at his spirit and his body most of his life. Kossala was never able to return to Africa, and this denial was directly linked to slavery’s tentacles.  The main message the text left me with – was that culture was king. Kossala’s culture was his strongest and consistent weapon. He relied on his culture and African traditions his entire life: in the bowels of the slave ship, he and the other kidnapped youth cried through traditional songs to ease their burden, as soon as he and other recently kidnapped Africans were freed they danced a traditional dance, throughout his youth and senior days African parables and fables guided his actions. When his family was taken, his culture remained; he took on the traditional role  as griot for Africatown before the loss of family and remained in the role after the loss as an elder. Motifs in the text included valuing family, adapting to change, self-sufficiency, and surviving despite oppression.  The text was loaded with descriptive language but what remained me was Kossala calling his wife his eyes, and when he lost her/then he was finished.  The most memorable scene was the image of the Dahomey attacking his village; woman warriors entering the village beheading elders while the men blocked the exits kidnapping those who tried to escape the carnage. I believe the work will become one of the most important slave narratives in the canon. Hurston brought the skill of a fiction writer to the task of recording a biography; she converted Kossala’s biography into a story. In addition, Plant’s editing is informational and instructional. I will continue to read both writers.  

https://ndigo.com/2018/06/27/barracoon-wakeup-reading-paul-king/

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I visited Africatown, in Mobile Alabama, a couple of days ago.  The remains of some of the Africans who survived the middle passage, on the Clotilda, one of the last known (documented) slaves ships, are buried here.   

 

africatown-marker.jpg

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Hi @ESP welcome to our online book club. The club's moderator, @Tony Lindsay will be posting questions shortly.  In the meantime, did you read the book? What did you think?

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I’m still listening to the book, but so far it is very interesting. I’ve realized I need to see and write the names out for better understanding. Tony your thoughts are fantastic and I’m 

looking forward to discussing this title.

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@Missy, I wonder f the audio book will read the glossary and the notes which were quite extensive and revealing.  After reading the book seems nothing that has happened to me, or will ever happen to me, with compare the what Kossola (Cudjo Lewis) experienced.  

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@MissyHey, I was wondering how listening to it would go. Can you hear his dialect? Does Zora's fiendship and admiration come through?

@elleaustin yep you are in 🙂  we are going to have some great discussions - happy to be with folks who love literature !!!!

Protagonist: the main character

Q1. Identify the protagonist?

Q2. What is the protagonist’s goal?

 

Antagonist: Person or situation that is interfering with the protagonist reaching the goal

            Q1. What or who is the antagonist? 

Q2. Is the antagonist effective in interfering or stopping the protagonist from reaching the goal? 

 

Theme: Main Message

Q1. What message is the writer attempting to relay?

Q2. Why do you say that is the message?

 

Motifs: Lesser recurring messages throughout the work

            Q1. What recurring messages were throughout the work?

 

Metaphors: Imagery representation for an issue, a person, societal ill, or situation. 

            Q1. What metaphors did you notice in the book?

 

Most memorable scene

            Q1. What scene from the book stayed with?

 

Literary merit of the book

Q1. How do you think the text will function; i.e. historical work, advisory

      work, reference?

 

Author

            Q1. Would you read another work by the author?

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  • I keep thinking about how he depended on his learned culture decades later in life, and that dependence sustained him even when others in community tried to ostracize him and his family. His settling into griot elder status was again the culuture of his childhood carrying him through life - is our African American culture that strong?  I think so. IReport post
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Protagonist: the main character

Q1. Identify the protagonist?

Q2. What is the protagonist’s goal?

 

Antagonist: Person or situation that is interfering with the protagonist reaching the goal

            Q1. What or who is the antagonist? 

Q2. Is the antagonist effective in interfering or stopping the protagonist from reaching the goal? 

 

Theme: Main Message

Q1. What message is the writer attempting to relay?

Q2. Why do you say that is the message?

 

Motifs: Lesser recurring messages throughout the work

            Q1. What recurring messages were throughout the work?

 

Metaphors: Imagery representation for an issue, a person, societal ill, or situation. 

            Q1. What metaphors did you notice in the book?

 

Most memorable scene

            Q1. What scene from the book stayed with?

 

Literary merit of the book

Q1. How do you think the text will function; i.e. historical work, advisory

      work, reference?

 

Author

            Q1. Would you read another work by the author? 

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