The Two Princes of Calabar [Chapter 2] Sparknotes

Chapter 2: “Nothing But Sivellety and Fare Trade”

  • The Efik were a branch of the Ibibio-speaking peoples
  • The Efik were a highly adaptable bunch, quickly evolving to the new societal norms that the slave trade brought to them.
  • Efik is derived from the Ibibio verb “to opress”, fik.
  • The Efik decided to accept this negative name, but also called themselves Iboku, from the two Ibo words that meant “those who quarrel with the Ibo”.
  • This suggests that originally the Efik didn’t get along well with their neighbors, but by the 1600s they were civil.
  • Creek Town = Ikot Etundo
  • Creek Town consisted of three “houses” – Eyo Ema, Atai Ema, and Effiom Ekpo. It grew until the conflict between Eyo Ema and Atai Ema created Obutong (OT) by men of Atai Ema, ancestors of the Robin Johns.
  • English trader John Barbot “found that slaves were essentially ‘a form of money among these Africans.’” He wrote that slaves were either those who had no means of sustaining themselves, were captives of war, were sold by their parents who had too many mouths to feed, or were condemned by their own fines. Mostly they were war captives.
  • “Slaves referred to their owners as ‘father’ and ‘mother’.”
  • Sometimes, slaves sold themselves into slavery to escape what they perceived to be an even worse fate, such as famine, war, or even to jump at the chance of possibly improving their circumstances.
  • “James Morley, a sailor…knew of persons who were sold because they committed adultery or theft.”
  • “a common maxim in OC was that a person could easily fall into slavery, but could seldom recover his freedom.”
  • Slaves couldn’t buy their own freedom, and many times being freed by a master was seen as a slight, so the only way in which a slave could better him/herself was by buying his/her own slaves. However, if a concubine of a master had his child, then both she and the child became free.
  • After the expansion of the slave trade, the head of the house was whoever was richest (Etubom, father of the canoe)
  • David Northrup outlined the 3 major factors of canoe houses: 1.) “the canoe houses expanded rapidly with the growth of the slave trade and the addition of slaves from the interior” 2.) “the leaders of the canoe houses were ‘men of talent promoted rigorously from among slave and fee members alike who demonstrated the necessary abilities’” 3.) “canoe houses ‘formed a single economic unit, a sort of trading company’”.
  • The Efik would entertain the Europeans on land, and the Europeans the Efik on their ships, as was customary before negotiations could begin.
  • Trade was best from May to September.
  • The book talks about the layout of slave ships, same as every history book you’ve ever read.
  • The Robin Johns spoke a hybrid English-creole language
  • The African traders all spoke English
  • In some cases, traders from Africa would send there sons back to England on the ships for education
  • The Efik would try to make their homeland as European as possible to nurture relationships with the traders
  • Traders would often send “pawns” (usually sons or daughters) onto the slave ships until the debts were settled as a type of security
  • OC traders didn’t keep slaves on hand, they went and captured/recruited them after deals had been made.
  • They would go in the day asking for volunteers, then plunder by night, taking whomever they pleased.
  • Canoes carried around 120 people, were up to 80 feet in length. Took 40-50 “canoe boys”, 20-30 traders, other armed men. Each had a 3-4 lb. cannon on the bow.
  • Expeditions for slaves usually were 10 days to 3 weeks in length.
  • The Aro people were skilled when it came to firearms, and “employed mercenary soldiers who acquired slaves, but their trade relied primarily on judicial activity and kidnapping of individuals rather than all-out war.”
  • Once returned to the town of the slave traders, captured slaves were taken into the traders’ houses to be made presentable.
  • Male slaves: 40-48 coppers
  • Women slaves: 28-36 coppers
  • Boy slaves: 20-40 coppers
  • Girl slaves: 17-30 coppers
  • 40 baskets of plantains: 60 coppers
  • Captains sometimes made agreements to keep the price of slaves down.
  • Household slaves in OC were treated well, and were never sold as that was a sign of disgrace and poverty
  • As a result of the slave trade, the Efik culture became “increasingly commodified.”
  • Ekpe – Efik word for leopard, Egbo to Europeans; a complex secret society that essentially governed all of OC. Not indigenous to OC; any man could be a member, but each higher title was bought; two prestigious titles eyamba and ebunko; caused a unification of the people.
  • “blowing Ekpe was one of the most severe Ekpe sanctions because it stopped all trade with them until the dispute was settled.”
  • Last day of the Efik’s 8 day week was sacred to Ekpe; marked by feasts and drink. “On that day the feared Ekpe runners scoured the town, masked and dressed in elaborate leopard costumes. The runners carried long whips, and nonmembers of the society remained hidden indoors or suffered lashings at the runners’ hands.”
  • Efik worshiped on god, Abasi/Etenyin Abasi/”our father God”
  • Believed every person had a ukpon (soul) that was connected with one specific bush soul (a wild animal). If something befell one, it befell the other.
  • Day 2 of the week was prayer day (Auqabibio); on prayer day  men poured water into “God’s dish” and prayed to their ancestors. In order to find sanctuary, an Efik runaway slave could break one of these basins.
  • Ndem – supernatural powers
  • Anansa – ndem/protector of OT
  • Ekpe brought the Efik towns together

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