Dear readers,

I have posted below a lecture I wrote for week five of my West African History course. The lecture is designed to take about 35 minutes to deliver. It sets up a primary source lab that takes place immediately afterward. In this lab, students get into small groups and investigate the introduction to Sigismund Wilhelm Koelle’s Polyglotta Africana. Koelle was a German missionary who traveled to the British Crown Colony of Sierra Leone and conducted a study of West African languages in 1854. Sierra Leone was the perfect place for Koelle to conduct his study because it was the site of Britain’s efforts to colonize “recaptive” or “liberated” Africans from Spanish and Portuguese slave ships on the west coast of the continent. In the 1800s, the British navy resettled people from all over West Africa and the greater British Empire in Sierra Leone. Once there, they began forming a new “ethnicity” known as the Krio. In the process of gathering and classifying information about the languages that contributed to this “ethnicity,” Koelle documented the stories of what he called his “informants.” In particular, he wrote about where they came from and how they entered the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Their stories are of primary interest to us as students of the trade. In addition to setting up the lab activity, the lecture also foreshadows a film we will watch on Thursday. The film is called Ghosts of Amistad, and it documents the efforts of researchers from the United States to trace the history of Mende warriors, like Sengbe Pieh, from the Gallinas coast in southern Sierra Leone. These warriors drew on the foundations of a male secret society, called the Poro, to stage a fight for their freedom in the Caribbean.


Week 5 Lecture — Overview of the TAST in Sierra Leone (T, 2-5)

Week 5 Lecture — Overview of the TAST in Sierra Leone, with notes (T, 2-5)