There is a saying that “no one knows tomorrow”. Another is that “that which men do today, might return to live with them tomorrow”. This was the case with John Corrantee, who, lost in his quest to make a fortune for himself, forgot to take heed of the law which states that all men are equal and must never be traded for profit.

In the 18th century when slavery was at an all-time high and the trans-Atlantic slave trade meant big business, John Corrantee from Annamaboe, acted as a middleman who, employing his diplomatic skills, gained an advantage in the slave trade over competing Europeans; himself being an African.

John at the time had a son―William Ansah Serrarakoo―who was brought up in the Cape Coast Castle in today’s Ghana, where he spent his youth learning how to read and write English. John later decided to send his son to Europe to receive a better education with hopes that this would help him improve his relations with his European partners.

In 1747, an extraordinary event that would forever change the life of young William, however, happened. William on board the slave ship ‘Lady Carolina’ had set out to France from where he would be sent to England to be taken care of and educated. During the long journey, the ship made stops―for various business purposes―at various places including Barbados where the ship’s captain died. Unlucky for William, it was this captain who was supposed to take care of him upon reaching France.

With no one available to verify the legal status of the boy, William was enslaved and was immediately put through the harsh life in slavery. Thinking his son kidnapped (something quite common in the 18th century, when European slavers were used to kidnapping sons of African leaders and using them as hostages), John made the demand that European officials investigate what happened to his son and his whereabouts, and to return him immediately. Hence, a ship was sent to Barbados and after a search, managed to find William and take him to England.

After some years, young William returned to Annamaboe where he was welcomed by his father who asked him to join in his trade. William―having tasted what it felt like to be enslaved during his time in Barbados―however, knew that this wasn’t right and rejected the offer. He instead showed great interest in writing, opting to portray the cruelty of slavery and that of slavers such as his father who would by all means help to sell his own kind.

William would stop at nothing in achieving his goal and dedicated his life to writing up until in 1761 when the governor of Cape Coast Castle ordered him beaten and dismissed.

(By Ejiofor Ekene Olaedo)

SOURCES OF AUTHO’RS INFORMATION

Tapalaga, A. (2020, June 13). How a Slaver’s Son Became a Slave. Retrieved June 20, 2020    from Medium: https://medium.com/history-of-yesterday/how-a-slavers-son-became-a-slave-a886d0c1135e


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