01x05 - Episode 5

Episode transcripts of the TV mini-series, "The Book of Negroes" . Aired February 2015.
Kidnapped in Africa and subsequently enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata must navigate a revolution in New York, isolation in Nova Scotia and treacherous jungles of Sierra Leone, in an attempt to secure her freedom in the 19th century.
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01x05 - Episode 5

Post by bunniefuu »

Aminata: Previously on The Book of Negroes...

Our navy plans to move all n*gro loyalists to Nova Scotia where they will be free.

This is the ledger in which you'll record the names of the n*gro loyalists;

The Book of Negroes.

Your tickets for The Joseph, boarding November 7 for Annapolis Royal.

Our baby will be born in March in Nova Scotia.

Aminata Diallo, there is a claim against you. We cannot allow you to leave.

Lindo has made a claim on me!

Please! I am her husband and I go with her.

If you get off this ship, you will board no other.

I will not leave you.

It's the only way.

Judge: I have looked over the contract between Mr. Appleby and Mr. Lindo.

Mr. Lindo, you may take your property.

She's not my property.

I wish for Meena to be free.

Aminata: I had hoped to sail to Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia, since that was where Chekura's ship had been heading, but there was only one ship for me to take, and it was going to Shelburne.

I saw no vast farms, or signs of cultivation.

Was this the Promised Land?

I buried my thoughts of Chekura, and set about finding a place to sleep and food to sustain the little person growing inside of me.

They don't know what's here, don't know what's waiting for 'em, they just keep coming.

You look famished.



What's that mean?


There are brave souls in Nova Scotia, and also many fools.

Calling me a fool?

No, sir.

I'm only here to give my aunt a hand.

We have our own business to mind.

Aw, don't pay them no mind.

Things be uneasy between us free blacks and whites, but we ain't going nowhere.


You don't remember me, do you, Miss Meena?

Can't say I blame you.

You registered me in The Book of Negroes back in Manhattan.



(both laughing)

I am looking for my husband.

Chekura, Chekura Tiano.

Do you know him?

No, well I know about every coloured man in Birchtown, but I can't say I know your man.

Oh, it's so cold here!

You should meet our preacher.

♪ Nobody knows my problems ♪
♪ But my God, yeah ♪

Jason: Howdy, sir!

This is Miss Meena, fresh off the boat from Manhattan.

And this is Daddy Moses.

And now seeing as you are both lettered, you ought to get on fine, like a house on f*re.

My name is Moses Wilkinson.

Some people call me preacher man; others call me Daddy Moses.

Please say hello to a broken-down old man.

You're not so old.

Miss Meena here is with child.

She's searching for her husband, uh, Chekura is his name.

Yes, Chekura Tiano.


Searching but not finding, huh?

No, no, not yet.

Well, tell me, uh...

Have you been saved?

Well, that depends.

Do you know where I can stay tonight?

Aw, yeah, you can stay over at Birchtown, about 3 miles down the way, at the dog-ass end of the harbour.

Well then, I have been saved.


(both laughing)

Can feel the storm coming. Here.

Here you go.

Aminata: No...

Put that on, you're going to have a baby, now.

Put it on.

Come on, let's go.

Thank you.

♪ Nobody knows my troubles ♪
♪ But my God ♪

(bell ringing)

It's good of you to carry Daddy Moses.

Well, me and Daddy Moses, we pulls each other.

We are travelling peoples.

Daddy Moses: Yeah.

Jason: Mm-hmm.

(Wolf snarling)


Jason: Go on! Go on, get!

It's Jack Cooke.

Well, I'll be. He skinny?

Looks like it.

Must have caught his foot in these logs, snapped his leg while he was hunting.

No one here to help him.

Someone said they saw him stealing.

If the judge convicted him, would have been the third time.

He was hiding out so he wouldn't get hanged.

You're not taking the coat off a d*ad man!

No sense leaving a perfectly good coat.

Besides, it ain't for me, Miss Meena.

It for you.

I can't do that.

I can't do that!

Miss Meena...

It only getting colder out here.

We can't have you ending up like Jack Cooke.

All right, all right.

Just the right size.

For you and your baby.

Daddy Moses: We best be goin'.

(chatting inaudibly)


You have a hard life here.

We do the best we can.

Come on.

My first winter in Nova Scotia, disease streaked through Birchtown.

Nobody had a thing.

Never a coin was passing among us.

I caught babies some of them d*ed in their first month.

People in Birchtown had no money or goods to pay for my help, but they would give me what they could.


man: Hey, hey!


Stop that man!

Theodore: You, stop right there!

Get back here, boy!

Pardon me.

You dropped these.

You keep them.

Daddy Moses: We are like the Israelites who escaped from bondage from Egypt.

(congregation shouting assent)

And it was Moses himself who parted the Red Sea so we could make better our escape.

congregation: Amen.

But we are not in the promised land not yet.

We need land!

congregation: Yes!

Where we can grow our crops and survive.

More than 1,000 of us came here, and only about a dozen of us have land.

congregation: Shame!

The rest of us are so crammed together that cholera is k*lling our people.

Cummings: Well, maybe we ought to show more industry.

Follow the law.

Show sobriety.

(congregation murmuring angrily)

Hard work.

Maybe then we'll get the land.

Aminata: I could write to the abolitionists in England.

And wait for an answer that never comes?

I fail to see how her writing the letters would hurt this cause.

(Crowd agreeing)

I think it might help, huh?

All in favour?

congregation: Oh, yeah!

... Carried.

Aminata will write letters on behalf of the people of Birchtown...

congregation: Yes! to every abolitionist known to man!

(cheering) Hallelujah!

I need three white men, strong and sturdy.

10 pence for a day's work.

Move forward.

man: Right here!

I'll take you two and you.

(men grumbling)

Now I need 5 black bucks, 5 pence a day, don't show your face unless you're big and strong!

man #2: Easy, now!

I'll take you, you, you, you and you.

Matthew: Why is their fellas getting all the work?

You prepared to work for 5 pence a day?

Hell no, it's pure sl*very, isn't it!

Then get out of my way, 'cause I've got a boat to unload!

Theodore: Knock it off, or I'll throw you both in jail!

I don't care what colour you are!

man #3: Come on, let's get to work.

You are writing to abolitionists in England.

Do you expect a reply?

How long will it take to print them?

Who wrote these?

I did.

Don't get your hopes up.

Members of parliament only deal in matters of importance.

May I pick them up tomorrow?

Two days.

Awfully well written, if I do say so myself.

My husband.

He d*ed at the siege of Yorktown.

How can I see if a man has arrived by ship?

He was due to arrive at Annapolis Royal.

Well, you might check the British naval records there.

But it'll cost you more than threepence to travel to Annapolis Royal.


Day after tomorrow?


Thank you.

Hold on.

(Daddy Moses groaning)

Where is everybody?

Oh, they're in Shelburne, unloading boats.

There's a lot of money to be made unloading boats all day long.

(suddenly moaning)

What is it, child?

My waters...

My waters have broken!


(moaning and gasping)

It's a fine time to pick for what you got today, child!

"Let not your heart be troubled, nor be afraid."

(groaning and laughing)

The whole time I'm having this baby, you're not going to carry on like we're in church, are you?

Ah, I suppose not...

Oh, don't worry!

You're as sturdy as a 10-foot tree.

Oh, don't feel like it.

Don't feel like it...


Were you married when that child was seeded up in your belly?

Yes, I was... I told you.


I don't know where he is.

I was sure hoping I would see him today.

Well, if he was coming, he would be here already, hmm?

I know men's ways.

He's coming.

You sure about that?

Got to believe in something.



Are you blind?


Are you blind?

I can see a little out this eye, but shh!

(both laughing)

(Aminata gasping in pain)


I'm ready!

Me too.

... Come closer.

And do what I say!

Now, reach down and feel for the head.

Do you feel it?


Now reach for the neck.


Do you feel it?

Yes, yes!

Is there anything around it?


Just the neck.

Aye, just the neck. Good, good...

GOOD! Ahh...

You should have warned me, girl!

(Baby crying)

Bring it to me, bring it to me!

Careful, careful!

Ahh, yes!

Yes, come here!

Ahh, land's sake!

What have you brought into this world?

It's a boy, it's a boy!

I am going to call him Mamadu, after my papa.

Mamadu. Ha ha!


Ha ha!

♪ Oh, rock-a my soul ♪

Everybody sing, now!

♪ Rock-a my soul in the bosom of Abraham ♪

Rock my soul!

♪ Rock-a my soul in the bosom of Abraham ♪
♪ Rock-a my soul in the bosom of Abraham ♪



(Mamadu crying)

He won't stop crying.

That's it, baby, you're burning up!

And so is Mamadu.

Jason, you go back to Shelburne, ask for Dr. Wharton. Tell him to get right over here.

There's a woman and her baby and they're sick with cholera.

Hurry up!

I heard there was a sick woman and child?

I'm sorry, Dr. Wharton could not come.

I've nursed soldiers during the w*r.

There's broth on the stove. I'll leave them with you.

How long have you been ill?

Three days.

And the baby?


How are you feeling now?

I can hold down broth, some, I can walk a bit now, but he's not eating.


He's not getting better.

I'm going to stay with you.

I'm going to do whatever it takes.

But I'm afraid there's not much we can do for the baby.

Except we're going to keep him dry and we're going to keep him warm, and we'll encourage him to feed again.

(crying loudly)

(Mamadu whimpering)

Come on, let me feed you.

Come on, that's right. Eat from Mama.

Come on, try to eat from Mama.

Ah, there...

Eat some. Try to eat from Mama.

Try to eat from Mama, come on!

Try to eat from Mama.



He's gone.

He's gone.


He's gone.


(sobbing weakly)

My children were like phantom limbs; lost but still attached to me, gone but still painful.

I stopped cooking, working and eating.

For the first time in my life I had no desire to read.

I even stopped thinking about Chekura.

I am in the mood for dying.

You have to live, girl.

(thudding cane on the floor)

You will live.

(animals calling)

Mamadu: Find your way home, Aminata.

I remember you from last year.

You had letters for abolitionists.

Yes, yes I did.

Did they reply?


Not yet.

I'm actually here on another matter.

I am looking for work.

What about your baby?

You were this big last year.

I lost my baby.


Sorry to hear that.

Birchtown is just too crowded.

I've been saying it's all well and good to be hospitable, but there are limits.

Good for you, carrying on as you are.

Though what is it that you're interested in doing, in terms of work?

I am interested in whatever work is available.

Did you truly write those letters?

Yes, I did.

Spell "conjugate".


Are there any particular verbs you would like me to conjugate for you?

You must be one of the good ones.

I can pay tuppence a day.

I hope you learn fast, I need you to set type.

Can you start tomorrow?

I can start today.
(footsteps approaching)

Mrs. Witherspoon: Son!

This is Meena Diallo.

Meena is now employed in our shop.

Good afternoon.

Did you find work, son?

Aminata: It took me three hard weeks of savings to be able to purchase a ticket to Annapolis Royal to inquire about Chekura's whereabouts.

Here... 1783... "Joseph from New York Harbour."

"November, 1783, caught in storm, bl*wn south. Damaged, not destroyed. Arrived, Bermuda, 1784, 121 passengers, 8 casualties, 3 unaccounted. 110 arrived alive."

(both laughing happily)

Where exactly is this Bermuda?

Ma'am, I need work... desperately.

And food even more desperately.

I don't hire black men.

They indenture themselves to me.

Do you know what that means?

Ma'am, if I can get some food, I don't really care.

It means I own you for three years.

Yes, I'll give you food and I'll give you a bed and I'll give you clothes, but you work for me for no pay.

Is that agreeable to you?

Ma'am, I ain't eaten in 6 days.

Anything is agreeable to me.

Aminata, write up an indenture agreement along the lines I just mentioned.

I'll be back shortly.

mumbling: Thank you...

Don't do it.

It would be just like going back to sl*very.

You may never get free.

You go on and, um, write that letter, just like the lady say.


Go on, now.


Matthew: Ah! Good afternoon!

Leave me be!

Oh, why you got to be so unpleasant, girl? Hmm?

What would your mother think of you, harassing a woman?

My mother? I'll tell you what my mother would think...

Jason: Hey! Let go of Miss Meena!

Stay out of this.

Stay out of it!

Now, you go on peacefully back to town, nobody has to know about this.

No one wants you in Nova Scotia.

Take our jobs, take our land, but no more!


He's d*ad.

Leave the g*n here.

Leave the g*n here, nobody saw us.

Theodore: In the name of tthe law, open up!

Shh! Nobody panic.

(hammering) OPEN UP!

Daddy Moses: Ah!

Good evening, Theodore.

How's that sweet mother?

I'm here on the business...

My son is d*ad!


d*ad on the road to Birchtown!

Do you know anything about this?

I haven't seen anything.

I have the ear of the entire community and I've heard nothing.

I hired you.

I gave you people a chance.

And now, my son...

I know one of you did it!

Do any of you know anything about this death?

Death is common in Nova Scotia, Constable.

We all have suffered grief, we all have suffered loss.

I am sorry for your son, Mrs. Witherspoon.

You no longer work for me.

There will be an investigation.

Mrs. Witherspoon: I will see to it that you never find work in Shelburne again.

None of you!


Mark my words!

I will have justice.


Come on, Maria.

(sobbing) I will have justice!


I will have justice...

(door closing)

Daddy Moses: Boy...

It has been decided that you disappear for a while, until it's safe for your return.

Daddy Moses, I ain't never defied you.

But I ain't leaving my home, live all by myself in the woods.

They will hang you, boy.

I ain't leaving.

(Knocking on door)

Miss Meena? Someone here to see you.

You came!

I did.

A certain pestering woman brought me across the ocean to do the devil's work.

(Aminata laughing)

Sierra Leone.

It is a land on the west coast of Africa.

It is fine and fertile with plenty of room for you.

Now, the good British men that I represent, abolitionists every one of them, have the sanction of parliament to develop land there for the benefit of the empire.

Cummings: Are you right crazy?

We have k*lled ourselves crossing the ocean so some Africans can eat us in soup?

No one has to go.

If Mr. Shackspear distrusts this offer, then he's perfectly welcome to stay here.

But we need 1,000 people.

The abolitionists who have commissioned me to carry out this mission, will not finance it unless we can establish a sizeable community of free negroes in the Sierra Leone.


Daddy Moses: Uh...

What would we do there in this land called Sierra Leone?

All the things that you long to do here.

To have land.

To farm it.

To grow food.

To bring children into the world.

To be free.

With respect, uh, that's what you said in New York City but, uh, we're here. We have slaveowners and sl*ve property, and desperate people indenturing themselves into servitude.

Then I regret profoundly the disappointments that have shaken you so.

And that's why I've come.

Ms. Diallo wrote to me 8 letters.


She's also written to every abolitionist known to man, not to mention, King George III himself!

(all laughing)

It's true.

But she prevailed.

Good men of faith who believe the sl*ve trade to be evil now wish to create a colony of free negroes in Africa.

Now, with no obligation, but for curiosity alone, might I see a show of hands of people who are sure that they'd like to go.

Well, more of you will become interested.

But let me be totally clear: you can't join us on this grand adventure if you are enslaved, indebted or indentured.

I'm interested.

I want to know more.

You've read Gulliver's Travels!

Many times.


Oh, I love that word;

"Lilliputians". Don't you?

(Aminata laughing)

Where on Earth did Swift come up with that one?

They may be small, but they do wreak havoc!

Mm. Sounds rather like the English.

Come, have some more tea!

I will, thank you.

John Clarkson!


How would you...

... like to be my assistant?

Your assistant?

I'd need you to take notes and to communicate with the n*gro settlers and help me organize the venture.

The job would pay 3 shillings a day, plus room and board...

I will do it.

I will do it.


But I can't leave without finding my husband.

He was on a ship from New York to Annapolis Royal.

I went there, and they said his ship was bl*wn off course to a place called Bermuda.

I'll send word there on your behalf.

And when I'm back in Halifax, I'll see what I can find out.

Thank you.

Although many of the whites seemed to fear our presence in Shelburne, they were deeply offended when we chose to organize a departure.

In the eyes of the British,
they felt humiliated and judged, and so even our exodus became unsafe.

Three men b*at up a n*gro cooper for encouraging people to sign up.

All right, men.

Move along.

Aminata: You don't have to leave if you don't want...

Are you deaf? I said move!

Clarkson: No, you should stay with us.

Aminata: You wanted to see me, Captain Clarkson?


I made that inquiry regarding your husband, and, um, I received this letter from the British Navy.

(murmuring joyfully)


Aminata Diallo!

Ha ha!

(Aminata shrieking)

Oh! Let me look at you! Let me look at you!

Why must you make me wait so?

Will it ever be thus?

I am not leaving you now.

That is what you said last time.

If a w*r breaks out, I am not fighting in it.

That's not good enough.

If a plague hits us, I'm not dying.

That is still not good enough.



If locusts devour every plant, I will stand by you.

There are no locusts here, and no plants either.

Well, what is all this?

Moose, wolves, bear...

Every manner of massive wildlife, but you can barely grow a potato or a carrot or an onion.

Even chickens freeze.

Well, I will stand by you even amidst chicken icicles.


Where is the baby?

Where is the baby?


The baby didn't last two months.

Boy or girl?


I named him Mamadu.

After your father?


Each time we are apart, we lose a piece of ourselves.

Then we must never part.

It was hard being a sl*ve, but when there's no work, it's hard to be free.

You will find work.

They say Halifax is growing.

Why don't we go there for work?

I'm not going anywhere.

I'm going to stay right here and I'm going to help John Clarkson and we are going to find 1,000 people for that trip if it kills me.

I won't hazard another trip across that ocean.

It's madness.

You know, you sound like Cummings Shackspear.

He's not so stupid.

It was not easy to leave Nova Scotia for Sierra Leone.

We could not be indentured, indebted or enslaved.

We had to produce a letter attesting to our moral character.

But for those of us who could do so, it was thrilling to imagine returning to our homeland.

All right, now tell us your... your name.

How old are you?



You smear the good people of Shelburne with your letter-writing campaign.

I know what you've been saying about us to the people of England.

Where were you born?

Good day to you, madam.

I will have justice.

Daddy Moses: It hasn't been very safe for us here.

Now, Miss Aminata and Captain Clarkson have been travelling trying to get folks to sign up for this trip, and I, for one, have decided to join them.

woman: I'm with blind Daddy Moses.

I want to die in Africa.

(All laughing)

Cummings: Well then, you're a fool.

Hush your mouth.

I'm not the one that went and got myself indentured.

You think I like this?

You think I want this?

You all contemplating Africa. Why can't I contemplate?


You only have one year left, then you'll be free.

In a year, it'll be too late.

I mean, you'll all be gone.

Unless something were to happen to the one to whom I'm... indentured.

Daddy Moses: How many people want to go?

all: Yeah! (Whooping)

Mrs. Witherspoon: Just remember how sick we have been all winter.

We have lost so many children.


We don't need to live this way.

This is not what our sovereign wanted for us.

I am a fair person.

I hired the negroes. I let them work for me.

But enough is enough.

We have too many of them.

(crowd murmuring assent)

They should stay in their own community!

Shelburne is for decent loyalists.

Shelburne is for decent loyalists!

There, there, there's one of them now!

Taking a good man's job!

That's enough, Maria.

Do not incite these people.

Stay out of this, Theodore!

I order you to clear this area!

Jason, you need to get out of here.

You need to get out of here now, for your own good!

I ain't going nowhere, Miss Meena, I got a job to do.

Jason, please!


GO back to your homes.

Clear the area!

(men shouting)

What you doing, boy?

What's it look like?

Leave Jason be, he works for me!

And put that p*stol down!

Be on your way!

Disperse, gentlemen. Get back to your homes!


(Aminata screaming)


man #1: Good sh*t!

man #2: Are you mad? What are you doing?

Mrs. Witherspoon: Burn it down!

Burn Birchtown to the ground!

(All shouting)

man# 1: Let's go! Let's teach them a lesson!

(crowd shouting and cheering)

You k*lled him!

They want blood. We have to hide you. Now!

You k*lled him, Mrs. Witherspoon!


YOU k*lled HIM!

(knocking on door)

They k*lled Jason.


Rioters, they k*lled him!

Come in.

They are out for blood.

They're on their way to Birchtown.

I'm going with you.

Stay here and lock the door.

My husband is there!

Yes, I know.

It's not safe for you out there. Stay here, and lock the door behind me.

Mrs. Witherspoon: Put that thing away! Get out!


(metal clattering)

Cummings Shackspear...


You were born with nothing, you will die with nothing!

man: Maria! Hey! You stop right there, boy!

Cummings: NO!

Aminata: CUMMINGS!

man: You're dying, boy!



(Cummings choking and gasping)

Come on!

Aminata: Daddy Moses!

Daddy Moses: Aminata...

I'm glad you're alive.

They burnt down my church!

We couldn't stop them.

There were too many.

Where is Chekura?

Where is he?

Clarkson: I haven't seen him.

CHEKURA! Judith, have you seen Chekura?




You can't leave me again.

You can't leave me again.

You can't leave me again!

Let's go home.

I had waited for this day for most of my life, but now that it was happening I could scarcely believe it.

Africa, Africa!

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