Assess the Strategies Used by the Enslaved Persons to Survive the System of Slavery

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Assess the strategies used by enslaved persons to survive the system of slavery.

Slavery in the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries was a system of chattel whereby Africans were sold, bought and owned, mostly by white planters in order to service their needs and demands. Such needs and demands took the form of field or domestic labour on the plantations. The life of an enslaved was not easy nor wanted by these unfortunate African people. They were forced to live in barracoons, a place that, according to Esteban Montejo in The Autobiography of a Runaway Slave, was “dirty as hell,” co-existing with “swarms of fleas and ticks.” These terrible living conditions which more often than not caused the inhabitants to become severely ill, fostered a need and a desperate determination to resist in whatever way possible. This resistance was a combination of strategies, some harmless, others violent, it was a mode of survival, survival of the harsh treatments, and the stifled and restricted life that was the system of slavery. These economic, psychological and socio-cultural strategies entailed efforts at becoming economically independent, sabotage when planting and harvesting crops and of wagons, malingering in the fields, prolonging the weaning process of babies, culture retention and the enforcement of that ideology of family and kin-ship ties which insulated the enslaved on the plantations. It is important to note whether or not these strategies were successful, also who implemented them and what they expected to gain from them, whether complete freedom or a more relaxed and less restricted plantation environment, additionally, the consequences must be taken into consideration, whether or not they were long term or short term. Economic independence, probably one of the most prudent and effective form of survival and resistance on the plantation was beneficial to the enslaved and even to the planter. The extent to which this independence was achieved was due, mainly to...
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