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Captive Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the Americas

Captive Passage
has been made
possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Humanities
Recognition of
additional sponsors
for this exhibition
can be found by
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Middle PassageSailing and StormsStowageIllness and Death
Ships and CrewsProvisionsEnduring the Middle PassageResistance

Enduring the Middle Passage


Corporal and capital punishment were the norm on all ships during the years of the slave trade; on slave ships, treatment of the captives was especially brutal. The brutality was not only physical and emotional, but psychological as well. Many Africans had never seen the ocean, white men, or ships before. And they were leaving behind everything familiar to them: home, community, work, even land itself.

The harrowing voyage from Africa to the Americas was the one experience shared by all enslaved Africans, no matter where they came from or how or when they were enslaved. For those who survived, the appalling experience of the Middle Passage forged strong new bonds of kinship. Central Africans who were taken to Brazil used the Kimbundu/Kikongo term "malunga," which roughly translates as "shipmates."

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