“Backroads to ‘Bethlehem’…” is a fictional narrative about slave rebellion in Colonial Brazil and Jamaica. Inspired by actual events, the story unfolds in 1693, during the waning days of a militaristic, fugitive slave village in Northeast Brazil and the widening landscape of Maroon Wars, in Jamaica. The narrative follows the enculturation of West African tribes and the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, on a continuum of conscionable and sustained resistance. The theme focuses on the pursuits of freedom and human dignity amid the contradictions of colonialism and human slavery, all unfolding within the sleuthing Okafor family of the Quilombo dos Palmares,a militaristic Maroon village in Northeast Brazil. Exploring the beliefs of the indigenous Taino and West African communities, influenced by nearby Jesuit Orders such as the St. Raphael Mission, contributed to the blended cultural interpretations of burial customs, as well as visitations of shadow people or spiritual presences. Later, in Jamaica, as with ancient West African and Ashanti cultures, various trees play an important role in the village of Akrafena and the nearby Casa Cadiz Plantation.From the Nine Night ceremony and beliefs in survival after death, to the roaming spirits of the dead, the Silk Cotton Tree, alternatingly dubbed Spirit Tree,and Devil Tree,emits evil spells and spiritual inspiration for the invisible forces that drive the various Maroon characters and conflict, at the cultural crossroads of myth and reality.
Backroads to ‘Bethlehem’:
Odysseys ofthe Maroon Warrior, in the Shadows of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
“Passage(s) to Saint-Domingue…,”is the second book in the planned trilogy. Unfolding around 1742, in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, the journey of the Okafor family continues through the exploits of its great grandson,‘Jakobe’, born during his mother’s death-bed delirium in the militaristic Maroon village of Akrafena.Never enslaved, his odyssey begins with childhood shenanigans around the docks of Kingston Harbor and picks up as a sailor aboard the Sea Serpent,a fast, two-masted, merchant ship. Built for speed, the lightly-armed Brigantine becomes heavily involved in various nefarious activities, centering on the smuggling of illegal spirits, and banned imported fabrics, as well as a sundry of weapons and munitions.Later, on the lam in the aftermath of a revenge killing for the death of his father, Jakobe’s journey proceeds to the mountains of Saint-Domingue,the French colony on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, where his unique fighting and seafaring skills, conjointly with black-market dealings, accrue to the benefit of his new family. His worldly travels encompasses various African-Caribbean communities within the sprawling landscapes of the British Colonial and French Colonial empires, especially his embroilment with the mountain Mawon[Maroons] of Saint-Domingue,during the run up to the island’s successful insurrection, and the abolition of slavery, up to and including the hushed-up but historic victory of the enslaved over the French, in the Battle of Vertières,on November 18, 1803. About six weeks later, on January 1, 1804, “Haiti,” heretofore “Ayiti,” the indigenous Taínoname for Saint-Domingue, proclaimed its independence, becoming the first Black Republic in the world.
Passage(s) to Saint-Domingue:
‘Jakobe’s Journey’, Overture to the Gathering of Vultures
“Children of the Swamp…” (working title only) the third book in the trilogy keeps the ball rolling, early in the 19th century, encompassing the wanderings of hidden maroon settlements in the United States, and their quests for survival, and marronage, including life in the Great Dismal Swamp, and the periphery of plantation life in Virginia and North Carolina, as well as the coastal Gullah-Geechee Low-Country region of South Carolina and Georgia.