The fifteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries were difficult periods for the African continent. It was a time in history in which human trafficking was rampart. This heinous act was perpetrated by slave merchants from Europe and the New World, in collaboration with local chiefs and traditional rulers who sold their subjects in exchange for such materials as gunpowder, precious ornaments and metals, mirrors, cloths, and other merchandise of essence to them. This savage of the African Continent left her and her people plundered and drained of human capital and economic resources. The sold slaves were ferried across the ocean to their new destinations in what was later known as Atlantic and trans-Atlantic slave trade, to work under very severe and dehumanizing conditions. 1 Slaves from the hinterland and coastal cities across Africa, and particularly in the West African region in locations such as Badagry, Lagos, Gold Coast, Dakar, Bangui, Freetown, Liberia, and others were scattered into various slave camps in the European and American cities working on plantation farms, coal mines, construction sites, and doing other menial jobs assigned to them by their master. An account given by Olaudah Equina, who was eleven years old when he was seized from his Nigerian village by slave traders and then transported as human cargo from West Africa to the Americas, is hereby quoted from world history:
The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship which was then riding at anchor and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror when I was carried on board.(p. 487) 2 In the same vein Ferris remarked that:
Most of the slaves forced to work on the plantations in what is now the Southeastern United States came from West Africa, where they had commonly 154integrated music with their daily work. Particular kinds of songs became associated with certain tasks, such as fishing, weaving, hunting, or tilling their farms. In America, the familiar fishing, weaving, and hunting songs lost relevance, but the slaves poured all the anguish of their new, tragic experience into rhythmically flexible, emotionally expressive chants or cries sung by a solitary voice. 3In severe throe and anguish, the black slaves registered their emotional outbursts in the form of songs; these came to be known as Negro spirituals. 4 Some of the emotional outpourings were to complain, to mourn the departed and others, foretelling the hope of the unseen or unheard safe abode (heaven) where all troubles are over, and the chariot coming forth to carry them home.