The Biography of Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua
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This is the biography of an American slave who was born in Africa. His adventures took him to Rio de Janeiro, New York, Boston, Canada, and Britain; he knew Arabic, Dendi, probably Hausa, Portuguese, English, and French. In recent times scholars raised the doubt that such biographies of slaves born in Africa were only partially true; so, Law and Lovejoy traveled to Djougou and Brazil and followed the traces of Baquaqua via various collections, documents, oral history and written reports. They photographed the sites described by Baquaqua and included them in the book. They have also added several letters and other documents to the 1854 original edition. Baquaqua was enslaved in northern Benin in the early 1840s when he was about 20. At the time he was a bodyguard for the ruler of a subordinate town. He was abducted, taken south through Togo to Ouidah, a port in Dahomey, shipped to Pernambuco in Brazil, and sold to a merchant from Rio. This merchant then sold him to another Rio merchant, who took him by ship to New York City, where a little-known black group, the New York Vigilance Society, convinced him to jump ship. He escaped to Boston and traveled to Haiti, the only free Black state, where he was picked up by the Free Baptist Mission. Here Baquaqua converted to Christianity. He later returned to the U.S. and attended college, and traveled extensively.