“the Creolization of Old Calabar”

Topics: Atlantic slave trade, British Empire, Slavery Pages: 3 (1037 words) Published: May 19, 2013
The business and social interactions of the African and English slave traders created a very different "Old Calabar". As the slave trade grew the society quickly started to reflect not only the traditions and values of the Africans but of the English as well. Old Calabar became a "New Creolized Calabar”. Was this the direct result of the slave trading? The evidence says yes? The creolization of the African Society of Calabar can clearly be associated with the slave trade by analyzing their language changes, life style changes and political changes as the slave trading became more competitive and economically beneficial. Creolization usually brings to mind the decedents in Louisiana born to the Spanish, French and Haitians before the Civil War. Randy Sparks introduces the idea of creolization as being a way to explain what happened in Old Calabar, but interestingly, he poses the thought that it had little to do with the origin or birth of those involved. Sparks instead introduces historian Ira Berlin's idea of the Robin Johns being a kind of "Atlantic Creole" not because of blood lines but by experiences. Ira Berlin's quote is as follows: "Familiar with the commerce of the Atlantic, fluent in its new languages, and intimate with its trade and cultures, they were cosmopolitan in the fullest sense."(pg. 4) The Robin John's were not only fluent in the English language but also in "trade language" alluded to by Ira Berlin. These various languages developed in areas from Gambia to Cameron and developed as a result of the constant exposure of slave traders to each other's languages. The variations spread around the Atlantic Ocean to areas where slave trade was popular from Africa to the America's to Europe. Sparks describes the languages as a combination of mostly English words having African Grammatical structures. The African leaders in Old Calabar were responsible for the "cosmopolitan” like essence of the Robin Robins. The leaders knew that by being more...
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