Original

Igbo names and spellings for various settlements
Abakaliki is Abankaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzö; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owere; Oyigbo is Obigbo... any more will be added.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

'The King of the Eboes'

People on the island of Jamaica. USC Digital Library.

March 22, 1816. A European's account of a thwarted African uprising in Jamaica.

The two ringleaders of the proposed rebellion at St. Elizabeth's have been condemned, the one to be hanged, the other to be transported. The plot was discovered by the overseer of Lyndhurst Penn (a Frenchman from St. Domingo) observing an uncommon concourse of stranger negroes at a child's funeral, on which occasion a hog was roasted by the father. […] They had elected a King of the Eboes [Igbo], who had two Captains under him; and their intention was to effect a complete massacre of all the whites on the island; for which laudable design His Majesty thought Christmas the very fittest season in the year, but his Captains were more impatient, and were for striking the blow immediately. The next morning information was given against them: one of the Captains escaped to the woods; but the other, and the King of the Eboes, were seized and brought to justice. On their trial they were perfectly cool and unconcerned, and did not even profess to deny the facts with which they were charged. Indeed, proofs were too strong to admit of denial; among others, a copy of the following song was found upon the King, which the overseer had heard him sing at the funeral-feast, while the other negroes joined in the chorus:—

SONG OF THE KING OF THE EBOES.

Oh me good friend, Mr. Wilberforce, make we free!
God Almighty thank ye! God Almighty thank ye!
God Almighty, make we free!
Buckra in this country no make we free!
What Negro for to do? What Negro for to do?
Take force by force! Take force by force!

CHORUS.

To be sure! to be sure! to be sure!

The Eboe King said, that he certainly had made use of this song, and what harm was there in his doing so? He had sung no songs but such as his brown priest had assured him were approved of by John the Baptist. "And who, then, was John the Baptist?" He did not very well know; only he had been told by his brown priest, that John the Baptist was a friend to the negroes, and had got his head in a pan!

As to the Captain, he only said in his defence, that if the court would forgive him this once, he would not do so again, "as he found the whites did not like their plans;" which, it seems, till that moment the conspirators had never suspected! They had all along imagined, no doubt, that the whites would find as much amusement in having their throats cut, as the blacks would find in cutting them.

– Matthew Gregory Lewis. Residence Among the Negroes in the West Indies. pp. 114–115.

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