Winner of the 2007 Wesley-Logan Prize of the American Historical Association, this acclaimed volume tells the moving story of the last recorded group of Africans deported to the United States as slavesmore than fifty years after the United States abolished the international slave trade. Sylviane A. Diouf reconstructs the lives of 110 men, women, and children from Benin and Nigeria who were brought ashore in Alabama in 1860 under cover of night, recounting their capture and passage in the slave pen in Ouidah, and describing their experience of slavery alongside American-born enslaved men and women. After emancipation, the group reunited from various plantations, bought land, and founded their own settlement, known as African Town. They ruled it according to customary African laws, spoke their own regional language and, when giving interviews, insisted that writers use their African names so that their families would know that they were still alive. African Town is still home to a community of Clotilda descendants.
Diouf immerses the reader in the diversity and complexity of Africa.... The narrative is patient, disciplined, compelling, and brave, never shying away from the central role that Africans played in the enslavement of other Africans.... One puts down this compelling book convinced both of the significance of the Africans at the center of it, and that Diouf has given us a superb history.