June 27, 2016 – Bishop Ajayi Crowther Letter From 1837 Page 3
During our march to Iseyin, we passed several towns and villages which had been reduced to ashes. It was almost midnight before we reached town, which we passed our doleful first night in bondage. It was not perhaps a mile from the wall of Iseyin when an old woman of about sixty was threatened in the manner above described. What had become of her I could not learn.
On the next morning, our cords being taken off our necks, we were brought to the Chief of our captors – for there were many other Chiefs– as trophies at his feet. In a little while, a separation took place, when my sister and I fell to the share of the Chief, and my mother and the infant top the victors. We dared not vent our grief by loud cries, but by very heavy sobs. My mother, with the infant, was led away, comforted with the promise that she should see us again, when we should leave Iseyin for Dah’dah (Dada),- the town of the Chief.
In a few hours after, it was soon agreed upon that I should be bartered for a horse in Iseyin, that very day. Thus was how I separated from my mother and sister for the first time in my life’ and the latter not to be seen more in this world. Thus, in the space of twenty-four hours, being deprived of liberty and all other comforts I was made the property of three different persons. About the space of two months, when the chief was to leave Iseyin for his own town, the horse which was then only taken on trial, not being approved of, I was restored to the chief, who took me to Dada where I had the happiness to meet my mother and infant sister again with joy, which could be described by nothing else but with tears of love and affection; and on the part of my infant sister, with leaps of joy in every manner possible.
Here, I lived for about three months, going for grass for horses with my fellow captives. I now and then visited my mother and sister in our captor’s house, without any fears or thoughts of being separated any more. My mother told me that she had heard of my sister, but I never saw her any more.
At last, an unhappy evening arrived, when I was sent with a man to get some money at a neighbouring house. I went; but with some fears, for which I could not account; and, to my great astonishment, in a few minutes I was added to the number of many other captives, unfettered, to be led to the market-town early the next morning. My sleep went rom me; I spent almost the whole night in thinking of my doleful situation, with tears and sobs, especially as my mother was in the same town, whom I had not visited for a day or two. There was another boy in the same situation with me: his mother was in Dada.
Being sleepless, I heard the first cock-crow. Scarcely the signal was given, when the traders rose, and loaded the men slaves with baggage. With one hand chained to the neck, we left the town. My little companion in affliction cried and begged much to be permitted to see his mother, but was soon silenced by punishment. Seeing this, I dared not speak, although I thought we passed by the very house my mother was in. Thus was I separated from my mother and sister, my then only comforts, to meet more in this world of misery.
After a few days of travel, we came to the market-town, I-jah’I (Ijaye). Here I saw many who had escaped in our town to this place; or those who were in search of their relations, to set at liberty as many as they had means of redeeming. Here were under very close inspection, as there were many persons in search of their relations; and through that, many had escaped from their owners. In a few days I was sold to a Mahomendan woman, with whom I travelled to many towns on our way to Popo country, on the coast much resorted to by the Portuguese, to buy slaves.
When we left Ijaye, after many halts, we came to a town called To-Ko (Itoko). From Ijaye to Itoko all spoke the Ebwah (Egba) dialet, but my mistress spoke Oyo, my own dialect. Here I was a perfect stranger, having left the Oyo country far behind. I lived in Itoko about three months; walked about with my owner’s son with some degree of freedom, it being a place where my feet had never trod: and could I possibly have made my way out through many a ruinous town and village we had passed, I should have soon become a prey to some others, who would have gladly taken the advantage of me. Besides, I could not think of going a mile out of the town alone at night, as there were many enormous devil –houses along the highway; and a woman had been lately publicly executed (fired at), being accused of bewitching her husband, who died of a long tedious sickness. Five or six heads, of such persons as were nailed on the large trees in the market-places, to terrify others.
Now and then my mistress would speak with me and her son, that we should by- and bye go to Popo country, where we should buy tobacco, and other fine things, to sell at our return. Now, thought I, this was the signal of my being sold to the Portuguese; who, they often told me during our journey, were to be seen in that country. Being very thoughtful of this, my appetite forsook me, and in a few weeks I got the dysentery, which greatly preyed on me. I determined with myself that I would not go to Popo country; but would make an end of myself, one way or the other. In several nights, I attempted strangling myself, one with my band’ but had no courage enough to close the noose tight, so as to effect my purpose. May the Lord forgive me this sin! I determined, next, that I would leap out of the canoe into the river, when we should cross it in our way to that country. Thus was I thinking, when my owner, perceived the great alternation which took place in me, sold me to some persons.