April 03, 2007

GB2AOS Special Event Station

The end of April will see us at Sunderland Point for a Special Event Station marking 200 years since the Abolition of Slavery. The station will be active over the weekend 28/29th April on as many bands as we can manage, conditions permitting!
Sunder or asunder means apart and when the tide comes in this tiny village, which was once a thriving port, it finds itself cut off from the mainland at Overton.

Just over a mile of single track road winding over the mud flats and sand marshes connects it to the mainland at low tide. It's hard to imagine that once ships from the West Indies and North America docked here, plying their trade in cotton, sugar and human lives as part of the infamous 18th century slave trade. But there are reminders, and most of the people who come are looking for Sambo's Grave.

Sambo (or Samboo, as the gravestone indicates) -- I don't suppose anyone knows what his name really was -- was an African and probably no more than a boy. He was a black slave who arrived at the port with his master. He was taken ill, probably with some European disease to which he had no immunity, and he died. Because he was black and not a Christian he was not buried in consecrated ground. His body was interred in land that was once behind the inn, but is now a remote spot on the windswept shore with nothing between him and the vast sea that brought him from his homeland so far away.

For a long time the grave was unmarked, until some years later a retired schoolmaster discovered the story and raised some money for a memorial. He also wrote the epitaph that now marks the grave:

'Full many a Sand-bird chirps upon the Sod
And many a moonlight Elfin round him trips
Full many a Summer's Sunbeam warms the Clod
And many a teeming cloud upon him drips.
But still he sleeps -- till the awakening Sounds
Of the Archangel's Trump now life impart
Then the GREAT JUDGE his approbation founds
Not on man's COLOUR but his worth of heart.'

Sentimental it may be, but its contents show an awareness of changing attitudes towards people from other places.

Now the grave is well visited and fresh flowers have always been laid by people who come from not only curiosity but maybe also a twinge of conscience that such a thing could have happened not just to 'Samboo' but to countless other humans like him.

1 comment:

Brian G0RDH said...

Nice one Linda,

A good mix of detailed information.

Thanks for all the work you do on the Blog it does not go un-noticed.