Between the 16th and 19th century, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade existed between the countries of America, Britain, Spain, France and Africa. It is estimated that between 9 and 11 million Africans were taken from their tribal homes to work in plantations in the North and South of America. This industry destroyed countless of families, subjected millions of black people to racial oppression and death while also warping the minds of many so called ‘first world countries’ to believe slavery was acceptable.
This story will follow a young boy from Glasgow, Scotland and another African boy from Lwak, Kenya and tell of their journey to freedom, while facing barriers such as racism, violence and ignorance.
As rain fell from the heavens and thunder boomed throughout the early morning sky, street merchants were bustling about trying to keep all of their ‘valuable’ stock dry and away from the harsh Glasgow weather. The smell of cigarette smoke hung feverishly in the air; it was almost as if the entire population was smoking every minute of the day. The men working in the large factories were huddled under dress coats or newspapers as they tried, and failed, to stay a temperature that would prevent pneumonia.
The docks were as packed as usual- no matter what the weather was, people and cargo needed to get places. The steam was flowing fiercely from the large containers as if the fires of hell themselves were powering them. Taxi cabs were arriving every 30 seconds dropping off dignitaries to peasants, dictators to paupers, rich to poor. Everyone from everywhere, at any time, needed to use the River Clyde, especially if you were in the slavery business. It was a gold mine: a city that was built on slavery was never going to die. Everyone that had a job was in on it- the bakers provided bread for the journey, the glass makers provided small beads for the slave owners to bargain with, the tailors provided clothes for slaves to wear and cobblers provided makeshift shoes. The world was talking about slavery and Glasgow was at the forefront.
Watching over all this from his bedroom window, thirteen year old Charlie Stubbs sobbed. His father was leaving for his twelfth journey out to sea. Charlie himself knew he would never have this experience: The new teenager wasn’t exactly a symbolism of athleticism. He was tall and wiry, with a mop of curly blonde hair that looked like a brush had never been used on it. His arms were long and bony- a toothpick had more muscle on it. His feet were huge and warped- shoes were rarely in his size so he had to cram himself into sizes three times smaller. He was fit for accountancy or journalism- not having huge adventures of the big blue, side by side with his father.
As a result of this, he was even more saddened that normal. When he was younger and he watched his three older brothers follow in his father’s footsteps, he always imagined himself being with them. Sure, he was thin but he always believed he would ‘muscle up’ as his older brother David put it. Alas, he had reached teenage years and nothing had changed. He looked around his small attic bedroom- his bed lay strewn with sheets across it as he had not bothered to make it, pictures of large sailing ships hung across every available wall space, model boats and castles filled the desk and cabinet tops and on his ceiling, a giant mural of an anchor bearing the slogan ‘Adventure’s out there’.
He of course knew about the slave trade and the amount of people whose fathers worked on the deathly slave ships but he was proud to know that his father wasn’t involved with that- he travelled on fishing boats to Scandinavia in the summer to transport herring back to Glasgow. He smirked at those of his age group who believed becoming a slave owner was ‘noble’ or ‘cool’, he knew better. He just hoped his dad did too…
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