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The Two Princes of Calabar

Randy J. Sparks gives a story of two princes in the port of Old Calabar who were captured and ambushed by English slavers on the slave coast of Africa. In 1767 African competitors betrayed the two princess who was slave traders: Ephraim Robin John and . The two started to fight for their enslavement by writing their own stories of the Atlantic Slave experience. The writer in this book discovered the princes’ correspondence and reconstructed their adventures from it. Therefore this book gives a picture of the 18th century Atlantic World and slave trade from a perspective of Africa (Sparks 560). The book brings the readers into the communities that traded along the coast of Africa and followed a regular pattern in the transportation of ideas, goods, and people around and across The Atlantic. The book also gives a tale of slave’s tireless fight for freedom and their roles in the development of the Modern Atlantic World. This essay will provide answers to five questions in relation to “ The Two Princes of Calabar.”

To begin with, the Uprising in Calabar occurred as a result of Igbo women who congregated at Owerri, smaller towns of Calabar, and the native administration centers of Calabar to protest against the warrant chiefs and the high taxes on the market women. The administrators had hiked taxes on market women, and the Igbo women were not ready for that; therefore, they protested to the administration of Calabar. The English ship captains were to blame for the event because Robin Johns stated that they were betrayed by the African competitors who set them up for the new town’s citizens. The event led to some consequences such as forced resignation by warrant chiefs, attack of 16 native courts, which led to lots of destruction and led to the rise of Mass African nationalism. 

Referring to the slave trade in Calabar, it functioned by depending on raiding of slaves and trading them; this was mainly conducted in the Hinterland whereby the enslaved were regarded as captives of war and even sold by their parents and guardians hoping that they would find a better a profitable life somewhere else. This kind of operation matches with my insight of the way African slaves were acquired since most of them were acquired through raiding and through trading.  It also matches the perception of the role of Africans in Trans- Atlantic Slave trade was providing trading goods and acting as captives of war.

Robin Johns’ princess had the knowledge of English customs that helped them during their kidnapping in their entire enslavement period by employing their language and interpersonal skills; they could negotiate in many escapes, which enabled them to seek freedom in their journey of seeking freedom they finally received in England.  Their knowledge of the English language and traditions did not backfire at any instance, and that’s why they were able to negotiate in their escapes and make it out of the Caribbean to Virginia and to England, where they were served with their freedom. 

The Methodist religion had an impact on the lives of Robin Johns’. They had to change their belief system so as to achieve freedom. The Methodist religion led to their release as slaves.  They were attracted to Methodism than other religions because changing their beliefs to other religions made them develop guilt and difficulty, and evolving to Methodism was easier. In my opinion, I think their conversion was not genuine because they only wanted a through pass to their freedom, and that would give them one. 

Robin John’s were brought back to the Calabar through the convincing from Captain William Sharp of Liverpool where they were told that if they escape to his ship, then he would bring them back to Africa. Robin Johns received support from Grandy King George and Duke Ephraim. Robin Johns faced challenges such as change of religion and inciting. It is surprising that Robin johns returned to the slave trade after they had been kidnapped and enslaved because they had gone through many obstacles, including changing of religious beliefs so that they could achieve their freedom. 

The uprising Calabar participated in the campaign that helped in ending the practice of slavery in the Atlantic. After hearing the first-hand accounts about the Calabar uprising, the parliament passed some laws such as the abolishment of slavery, which led to the freeing of many enslaved Africans . a slave trade Act was put forth where slavery was totally abolished.

In conclusion, the above essay provides answers to various questions in each paragraph. Robin Johns are two characters who draw the image of how Trans- Atlantic slavery was to Africans. They faced many challenges in their adventure, and their knowledge of English and interpersonal skills helped them in their search for freedom. The British Colonialists from an act that abolished slavery, including Atlantic slavery. The campaigns from uprising Calabar helped support the British Colonialists in abolishing the slave trade in the Atlantic. The book provides the readers with an image of the communities that traded along the coast of Africa and followed a regular pattern in the transportation of ideas, goods, and people around and across The Atlantic. The book also narrates a tale of slave’s who fight for freedom but again end up being enslaved and their roles in the development of the Modern Atlantic World.






















Work Cited

Sparks, Randy J. “Two princes of Calabar: An Atlantic odyssey from slavery to freedom.” The William and Mary Quarterly 59.3 (2002): 555-584. 







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