Pity and compassion had been generated in the subterranean barracoons
of the slaves and were no more than the agony and sweat of the crowded miserables and weaklings.
I wonder what moves a murmuration of starlings spilling like sheets billowing on clotheslines or water tripping on stones in gullies after rain or the grain of the palm of Dad's hand and wood in the ark Noah built or words spilt from person to person like the chatter of a flock of starlings before they light out on their flight roiling like the heart of a Maroon dreaming she's in a barracoon
again before waking to the green of the forest in the mountains and in that forest the tint of U.
Kossola was marched to the sea, imprisoned inside a high fence called a barracoon
, and loaded with one hundred and fifteen other Africans onto a ship called the Clotilda.
quarters above or adjoining the store, a warehouse, a barracoon
Naipaul, The Overcrowded Barracoon
, London, Andre Deutsch, 1972, p.
The cover picture, Barracoon
, was that of Wyeth's model, Helga; but it seems to have, above what may be the naked "queen after her bath" of the book's title, the stick figure brushed there by Mildred.
Shabaka, for whom life and death now had no difference, watched the Wazimba forcing his people outside the barracoon
into the sunlight; then he looked up as strange men from across the sea beckoned him to rise - men with faces like metal, and no lips, as far as he could tell - who suddenly burst into honey-white needles of fire and light.
By the 1950s, with the National Party in power, this administrative faintheartedness began to disappear as coercive social engineering in the countryside was speeded up and the state undertook a policy of sustained forced removal in the homelands that prepared them for their impending barracoon
role of absorbing all those evicted or from "white" South Africa.
Eight years after the publication of this essay, Naipaul included it in The Overcrowded Barracoon
and Other Articles, his collection of published essays.
Perversely, he notes that the Republic, which looks "strikingly beautiful" off shore, "would up-anchor and sail eastward against the prevailing winds to the barracoon
, or slave factory, at Bangalang on the Guinea coast, take on a cargo of Africans, and then, God willing, return in three months" (20).
He exposes how the Thirteenth Amendment's exception clause--allowing for enslavement as "punishment for a crime"--has inaugurated forms of racial capitalist misogynist incarceration that serve as haunting returns of conditions African people endured in the barracoons
and slave ship holds of the Middle Passage, on plantations, and in chattel slavery.
In an interview, Johnson expounds how change, in a like manner, falls on every character in The Middle Passage during the long sea voyage of the triangular trade, the Atlantic slave trade: "Middle Passage takes a step back from slavery to see what happens from the moment Africans leave the slave forts and barracoons
on the west coast of Africa and board those ships.