The mayor for Bonthe Municipality, Micheal E. Garrick, has expressed his disappointment over the Amistad Freedom Schooner which docked at the Freetown Government Wharf late last year.
The Amistad’s transatlantic voyage to Freetown commemorates and honours the bicentennial of the end of the slave trade and focuses on educating people about the Amistad incident.
Mayor Garrick lamented that before the arrival of the boat some campaigners visited Sherbro Island and Shenge to ascertain whether Sengbeh Pieh hailed from that part of the Sierra Leone and all indications proved that indeed he was from Benducha within the Bonthe Municipality.
He disclosed to our Investigative reporter, who visited the Island recently, that Sengbeh Pieh was laid to rest in one of the tombs at a secret poro bush in Bonthe by his Sherbro people, because he was a hero who fought against slavery.
The Amistad set sail from its home port, New Haven, Connecticut, in the United States in July last year. The ship made several stops along the route that many slave ships sailed, culminating in its visit to Freetown.
The Amistad revolt was as a result of a rebellion staged by slaves, mostly from Sierra Leone, on board a ship known as Amistad which was bound for the Caribbean Island. Despite the fact that some European nations had abolished slave trade in the early 19th century, yet some American states were still indulged in the act.
Therefore among the captured slaves on board the Amistad were people from the Mende, Temne, and Sherbro ethnic tribes of Sierra Leone. Amongst them were people like Sengbeh Pieh (Joseph Cinque) and Kali.
While the ship was on voyage from Cuba to Brazil, Sengbe Pieh and some of his cohorts broke loose their shackles and climbed on deck the ship and rebelled against their captors. During that rebellion, they killed their master and, under duress, ordered the ship captain to take them back home – Africa.
But due to their lack of sea voyage, the captain steered the ship to the West Coast of the United States of America, where the rebels were charged for murder and hence put under custody. At this juncture, some anti-slave activists took up their case.
Concluding Mayor Garrick called on the Amistad crew to reconsider their mind and voyage to Bonthe Island and Shenge in Moyamba District to inform the Sherbros about the importance of this Amistad campaign so as to educate them about one of their sons who fought against the Whiteman to gain freedom.
He noted that they also wanted the ministry of Culture and tourism to erect a monument, or establish a resource centre that will properly explain the significance of Amistad to all Sierra Leoneans.