Igbo Names in the Nominal Roll of Amelié, An Early 19th Century Slave Ship from Martinique: Reconstructions, Interpretations and Inferences

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The names discussed in the present paper come from the nominal roll of “212 Africans, all Ibos, who constituted the clandestine freight of Amelié, a slave-ship commissioned at Saint-Pierre, Martinique, and captured by the royal corvettee, Sapho, on February 8, 1822, in the Caribbean Sea.” The list was forwarded to me as far back as 1985 through Abiola Irele (then of the University of Ibadan), at the instance of the great Martinique cultural nationalist poet, Aimé Cesaire (1913–2008), by Mme Thesée, a French scholar who was then completing a study of the secret passage of this particular group of slaves. Although the study was published fifteen years ago, under the title Les Ibos de l'Amélie: Destinée d'une cargaison de traite clandestin B la Martinique, 1822-28 (1986), no detailed reconstruction and interpretation of the meanings and significance of the Amelié names has yet been attempted before the present effort. An attempt has been made in this reconstruction and interpretation to make a modest contribution to the emergent historiographic science of transatlantic African onomastics.


Originally presented under the title "The Image of the Igbo in African-American and Caribbean Studies: An Analysis of Igbo Personal Names in an Early 19th Century Slave-Roll from the Martinique Islands" at the Ninth Ibadan Annual African Literature Conference, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, March 12-15, 1990.



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