Jamaicans of African ancestry, or Afro-Jamaicans, are citizens of Jamaica whose ancestry lies in the continent of Africa, specifically West Africa. Up until the early 1690s Jamaica's population was relatively equally mixed between white and black people. The first Africans to arrive came in 1513 from the Iberian Peninsula after having been taken from West Africa by the Spanish and the Portuguese. They were servants, cowboys, herders of cattle, pigs and horses, as well as hunters. When the English captured Jamaica in 1655, many of them fought with the Spanish who gave them their freedom and then fled to the mountains resisting the British for many years to maintain their freedom, becoming known as Maroons.
Between 1500 and 1800, some eleven million Africans were moved to the Caribbean. They were captured by war, as retribution for crimes committed, or by abduction, and marched to the coast in "coffles" with their necks yoked to each other. They were placed in trading posts or forts to await the horrifying six to twelve week Middle Passage voyage between Africa and the Americas during which they were chained together, underfed, kept in the ship's hold in the thousands packed more like sardines than humans. Those who survived were fattened up and oiled to look healthy prior to being auctioned in public squares to the highest bidders.
Enslaved Jamaicans tended to come from the Akan, Bantu, Igbo, Fon and other Kongo people. There were also the Yoruba, Efik and "Moko" people. Field slaves fetched £25- £75 while skilled slaves such as carpenters fetched prices as high as £300. On reaching the plantation, they underwent a 'seasoning' process in which they were placed with an experienced slave who taught them the ways of the estate. Although the initial slave traders were the Portuguese and the Dutch, between 1750 and 1807 (the year in which the British Empire abolished the slave trade), Britain "dominated the buying and selling of slaves to the Americas". Shipbuilding flourished and manufacturing expanded: the "process of industrialization in England from the second quarter of the eighteenth century as to an important extent a response to colonial demands for rails, axes, buckets, coaches, clocks, saddles...and a thousand other things"
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