Previously on The Book of Negroes...
May! May! No!
She only fetched five pounds.
Lindo helped Appleby sell our May to a family in Savannah.
Is May alive?
The pox got her.
Good men, who believe the slave trade to be evil, now wish to create a colony of free Negroes in Africa.
And I for one have decided to join them.
Let's go home.
On January 15th, 1792, our fifteen ships lifted anchor and set sail for Sierra Leone.
One out of every three men and women had, like me, been born in Africa.
Including children, there were 1,200 of us.
There it is!
There it is!
There it is! Do you see it?
From my childhood, I remembered the profile of the lion's back and head.
Until the coast with the lion shape came into sight, I doubted that I would truly return to the place of my departure.
We shall call our new colony... Freetown.
(cheers and applause)
These men have come from London for our protection.
Please do not leave the confines of our settlement. Outside, the company cannot protect you from enslavers or potentially hostile Africans.
Can we not govern our own fates?
Eventually, yes, of course.
But the company has spent a fortune to bring you here and they intend to govern this colony to ensure its success.
This is not the time to argue.
Now, you have eyes, you help me see.
Can you see 500 homes already built to rest our weary bones?
Can you see a place of worship?
Do you have a system in which we can gather food and hunted prey, and share together?
Okay, Daddy Moses.
The Englishmen left on their ships and we, the Nova Scotians, had nothing but tents for shelter.
So we built Freetown from scratch, starting with a church, a school, and houses.
As I traded with the Temne and learned their language, I dreamed only of my first home, and I planned my overland journey, walking three revolutions of the moon to reach my native village.
Here. Here, drink this.
Don't give up.
Don't give up. Don't give up. Don't give up!
Don't give up! Don't give up!
Don't give up!
What is happening?
They are marching slaves to the ocean!
Where's Clarkson when we need him?
He's away on a scout inland.
Lead me to them.
Lead me to them, quick!
Come, they are taking them! They are taking them!
You free these people now! Free these people!
You free them, just like us!
I'm king of these people. Please release this man.
Everyone, step back so no one gets hurt.
Mr. Park, no!
We have to let them through.
We will not let them take these captives!
We will not leave, and they are not taking them!
You cannot save the slaves.
You have to have faith.
You led us to freedom, Daddy Moses!
You led us to Africa.
Miss Diallo, I am so sorry for your loss.
Thank you, Dr. Falconbridge.
Oh, you know me then!
Captain Clarkson told me about you.
Captain Clarkson, the last decent toubab.
He mentioned you were once involved in the slave trade.
But that you later denounced it.
I'm told you wish to find your way home.
Yes, I want to find an African to take me inland to my village.
I can help.
I don't want us to go.
It's too dangerous.
It's our only chance to get home.
Why must you always make me chase you? We can love each other right here!
We could've been killed a thousand times!
Someone took us here, now someone can take us back.
I took you here.
I took you here.
Armstrong, old boy!
This is the woman I sent you a message about.
Falconbridge, a round of golf for a few minutes before we sit down to eat.
Falconbridge tells me that, as a child, you were taken from a village far inland.
Yes, it's true.
How do you know you were shipped from here?
I remember the golf.
You may find your home destroyed.
The houses of slaves were pulled from the interior, whole communities were sacked.
I have to find out for myself.
I have a barrel of rum to trade.
That's a fair price, but I'm afraid I cannot help you.
Why do you trade in men?
It's all I know. I love Africa. Everybody's doing it, the British, the French, the Americans.
Even the bloody Africans have been mixed up in the trade, and for an eternity, too.
Was it really that bad for you?
You're a picture of health, comfortable clothes, food in your belly.
We feed our captives here.
There's no point in starving our product. It must produce a profit.
I'm sick and tired of hearing London abolitionists claiming that we brand our captives. I've never seen such a thing.
Would you turn around for a moment, please?
You can turn back now.
It's the mark I was branded with out back in your slave pen... when I was eleven years old.
It's a 'G' and an 'O'.
I never knew what that meant.
Grant Oswald, the company that runs Bance Island. Oswald is a Scotsman.
You have no idea the thousands of horrors awaiting your captives.
I shall see to it that you want for nothing on your journey inland.
Tomorrow, you may meet the traders.
Why should I negotiate good rum with a foolish woman who look African but act like a toubab?
I want to travel inland to a village called Bayo, three revolutions of the moon by foot, northeast, not far from Segou on the Joliba River.
I don't negotiate with toubab.
I have a barrel of rum to trade.
One thousand barrels of rum.
One barrel of rum without a drop of water in it.
You negotiate like a man.
We'll meet again.
I return when I return.
I'm known here.
I am Alassane, the great Fula trader.
I found a guide to take me home.
I was there when you were taken from your home.
I shall be there when you return.
Thanks for coming.
I return to England in a fortnight.
No! The Nova Scotians will be devastated!
It is time.
Time for me to go.
I don't wish to keep my family waiting any longer.
But I do have a proposal to make.
You and Chekura should come with me to England.
Captain Clarkson, I've only just come to Africa!
I can't leave now!
But we need you.
The abolitionist movement needs you.
We need your story and we need your voice.
The Quakers are trying to persuade Parliament to abandon the slave trade.
And by trade, I mean buying slaves on the African coast, carrying them across the seas and selling them in the Americas.
It's a first step. Slavery would still exist, but no more men, women and children being taken away in slave ships.
How... how... how could I possibly help your cause in England?
You've survived slavery.
Your voice could move thousands of Britons.
When the time comes for Parliament to deliberate on the matter, your voice could swing the vote.
Captain Clarkson, I...
Call me John, please.
John... like you, I must find my way home again.
Well, you do know your own mind, Aminata.
Well, best of British luck to you.
That's the man who killed Daddy Moses.
As a child, I had believed that any decent adult would not let any slave coffle pass unmolested.
Yet here I was.
Do not feed her, or I shall put you in this coffle.
In that moment, I understood that Chekura and I had to flee.
I have to do something for them. I can't stand by and watch.
There are too many traders.
I had to bring you to the ocean.
I've lived with that my whole life.
I have to help them. Especially the girl.
There are only two guards watching over the captives.
The others drink. Your rum is very good.
We'll wait till they're sleeping. What if they see something?
I have made my way by many guards and mantraps.
They won't see me.
Okay, wait here.
Let me get her, then we go.
Are they free?
Yes, they are free.
Okay. Now go.
No. No, I won't leave you alone.
I won't leave you alone!
Say my name.
My Chekura Tiano.
Now go, Aminata Diallo.
Save the girl.
Come on! Go on!
Go! Go on!
Find your way home, Aminata.
(They all fall silent.)
.. daughter of Mamadu Diallo and Sira Kulibali.
I have been across the big river.
And now I am back.
And why did you love a man who helped steal you away?
At the time, he was a very young boy.
When we became older, we came to love each other.
And you say you lost him too?
I have lost... and found him so many times.
But now I have lost him forever.
Since my childhood, I had hoped every day to return to Bayo.
The men and women who saved my life and protected me in their village in Sierra Leone brought me as close as I would ever get to my earliest home.
But from this point on, home would not be a place.
Home would be what I would do with and for my people.
You made the crossing.
It will be my last.
Now, abolitionists can be very enthusiastic men, so don't let them touch you too much.
May I present Miss Aminata Diallo? She's journeyed a long way to join our court.
Welcome! Miss Diallo, it's lovely to finally make your acquaintance. I'm Stanley Hastings.
I must say your story is remarkable.
It'll be a powerful weapon in our fight to end the slave trade.
With delicacy and all meticulous care, we will interview you and write a short account of your life, including the abuses you suffered in the slave trade.
You want to write an account of my life?
Miss Diallo, William Wilberforce. It is very important.
We need to arrange the account just so.
The slightest inaccuracy or inattention to detail may prove... fatal to our cause.
Are you all right?
Of course she isn't.
I told you that this meeting was premature.
And she will not face this committee again until she's given opportunity to recover.
(church bells ringing)
Good morning. What day is it?
May we have a word, sir?
Excuse me, madam, I was just on my way out.
Why are you always avoiding me?
No desire to offend.
You never stop to answer my questions.
It's just my orders, that's all.
Mr. Clarkson asked me not to speak with you.
You're to be allowed to regain your health and prepare your statement for the abolitionist committee without any interference.
From the blacks of London.
They want your story to be pure.
"Straight from Africa" was what Mr. Clarkson said. And the committee men, they don't want Londoners saying that the blacks of London helped you to make up your story.
Dante, I do not wish to get you in trouble, but are there many of us?
Thousands. Thank you.
We are pleased that Miss Diallo has regained her health.
(all): Hear, hear!
Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you. My heart will not give out, at least not before I face your Parliament, so please, please, please sit.
As your confederate in the struggle to end the slave trade, I have decided...
I will write the story of my life.
Certainly, but you will require our guidance to ensure that...
Without guidance, thank you very much. My life, my words, my pen. I am capable of writing.
Miss Diallo, it is not a question of your literacy, but rather an issue of ensuring authenticity.
That is precisely why nobody must tell my story but me.
I will begin immediately, provided that no one interferes with my right to speak to any person, Dante, John Clarkson's butler, included.
I want you to know that it was not my plan to prevent you from getting to know Dante.
Blame me if you like, but please understand there can be no whiff of suggestion that your story has been influenced by the blacks of London.
This could cause great damage. If I give my account and I will give all of it... it will be on my terms, and my terms only.
Gentlemen, we are gathered to hear the testimony of Miss Diallo. If you please, Miss Diallo, would you give the committee an account of your life?
I am Aminata Diallo, daughter of Mamadu Diallo and Sira Kulibali.
I was born in a village called Bayo, in what you call Guinea.
Miss Diallo, what do you say to earlier testimony that men and women were not branded in factories on the coast of Africa?
It's not true.
I was branded in 1761 on Bance Island, off the coast of Sierra Leone.
If it is not too indelicate, may the committee hear how you were branded?
Hot iron was pressed into my flesh above my right breast. Am I required to show it, sir?
That will not be necessary. You are under oath.
Would the distinguished gentlemen from Yorkshire yield the floor and allow a word with the witness?
The floor is yours, sir.
I must say, Miss Diallo, your tale of woe shows you to have great virtue.
Survival has nothing to do with virtue.
I'm referring to your dignity and courage in the face of such unspeakable peril.
Marauding savages, hungry wolves...
All that's missing from your tale is a plague of locusts!
Gentlemen, gentlemen, Miss Diallo is before this committee giving testimony as a witness...
Miss Diallo, are you to have us believe an uneducated African woman wrote an autobiography without any ghostwriting or coaching from the interested party?
Sir, I admit the prose is a bit flowery, but every word, every word is my own.
Oh! Since you wrote this entire account, might you be able to spell 'Deuteronomy'?
It does appear in your book.
Gentlemen, this is hardly the time for a spelling test, it's... it's a disgrace! I mean...
D-e-u-t... e-r-o... n-o-m-y.
I am happy to help, sir.
Shall I assist with 'Leviticus' too?
I relinquish my time, sir.
Continue with your testimony, Miss Diallo.
I knew from a young age I would be a djeli, a storyteller.
I would see and I would remember.
The abolitionists had been trying for twenty years to end the slave trade.
But this time, they say they can do it.
This time, they believe they can prevail.
Who are they here to see?
You are a self-taught woman, a former slave and a survivor.
All the people speak of you.
You will win the vote today, we will not fail. We cannot fail.
Yes. Who are you?
And finally, gentlemen, you may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.
(clamoring) Let us consider that, if our colonies are to be cultivated, which can only be done by African Negroes, it is surely better to supply ourselves with those laborers in British ships than buy them from French, Dutch or...
Do you not want to hear the final vote?
We will know soon enough.
I will hear the results outside.
I've been waiting for this moment my entire life.
We will see.
The anti-slave trade bill... passed!
283 to 16.
Thank you. Thank you.
(knocking) Come in.
When we first met, I promised you a map of Africa.
This... is the most accurate to date.
And I suspect that you were born somewhere close to here, on that river.
Sir, a word!
Sir, may I have a word?
I came to London to find you.
I saw you yesterday.
Your name is Aminata Diallo.
Daughter of Mamadu Diallo and Sira Kulibali, born in the village of Bayo and brought in captivity to St. Helena Island.
Where you had me, until I was taken from you.
Are you May?
Are you May?
My name is May.
I named you that!
My name is May Diallo.
I'm told by Solomon Lindo that I was born in 1773 on Appleby's indigo plantation in South Carolina.
To Chekura Tiano... and Aminata Diallo.
Mr. Lindo found me.
He said that for the longest time, he believed I was dead.
But once he found out that wasn't true...
He spent much time searching for me.
You too have crossed the big river.
Every day, in London, I dip my quill in ink to become a new kind of djeli, a djeli for readers on both sides of the big river.
We have finally abolished the trading of men.
But we still have long road to walk.
We must still abolish slavery itself.
Our stories are so much more than adventure tales.
They are cries for truth, justice and freedom. Even tales of loss and hardship give us courage and open up the doors of love.
It is a miracle that I should live long enough to carry on my work as a djeli, so that my own stories can outlive me.