Tag Archives: prince klaas

Mailbox – The Legacy of Prince Klaas

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King Court/Prince Klaas monument, Independence Drive, Antigua. The sculpture is the art work of Sir Reginald Samuel who also designed the national flag of Antigua and Barbuda.

Prince Klaas (also known as King Court) is one of Antigua and Barbuda’s National Heroes. The African Slavery Memorial Society circulated the information below on October 20th 2017, the anniversary of his execution as a slave rebellion leader.

 

THE LEGACY OF THE PRINCE KLAAS 88

An Educational Digital Presentation

by Edith Oladele,

TOSTEM Project Coordinator

Today, October 20th 2017, marks the 281st anniversary of the execution of Prince Klaas – King Court or Tackey as he was also known, for conspiring to execute a rebellion in which all of the English officials and planters and their wives were to be killed and the island of Antigua made an independent African nation ruled by African leaders. Had it happened as planned it would have made Antigua the first African ruled independent nation outside Africa and before Haiti which gained its freedom in 1804.

The plan, which was quietly in the making for over a period of 8 years since 1728, was betrayed and Prince Klass and 87 valued slaves who held important and responsible positions on over 70 plantations across the island, were horribly tortured and executed by being torn to pieces on the wheel, hung by the neck and when that proved too quick, were burnt slowly at the stake. Prince Klaas, the leader and the first to be executed was torn on the wheel on Market Street.

This terrifying historic event in the lives of the slave society carried on until Christmas of 1736 when a respite was taken and killings began again on January 1, 1737 until  March 8th of that year. The entire population, black, white and mulatto and all the sugar plantations on the island were thrown into disarray. Fear gripped everyone; the economy plummeted and lives on the plantations and Antigua were changed forever.

The African Slavery Memorial Society and the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda are collaborating to present this story with an exhibition titled “MASTERS OF THEIR OWN ISLAND” The Prince Klaas 88 Legacy. The exhibition chronicles the story of Prince Klaas and the 88 men from Africa to the plantations and their vision which led them to plan the resistance and how their vision and Ashanti culture has impacted Antiguan ‘Africanity’ up to the present. This particular exhibition forms a part of the Resistances, Theme 5 of the up-coming African Slavery Museum and is a ‘must-see’ of what the museum will offer. A date when the exhibition will be open for viewing by students at the Museum on Long Street, will be announced shortly.

The Digital Exhibition will be held at the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda on Thursday October 26th from 7pm to 9.30pm. There will be a book-table pertaining to slavery on Antigua and you may apply to become a member of the ASMS.

Donations towards the Slavery museum would be welcomed.

Of additional and vital interest to all Antigua African slave descendants; on that evening there will be the opportunity to apply to do your DNA test to know your African ancestral origins. With Africanancestry.com, the society is engaging in a special bulk application and a ‘never-to-be-forgotten’ “Reveal” evening is planned in February 2018 to announce the origins of the applicants and their families. The applications and the payments for the DNA kits must be made before December 5th. You can learn how to get it done and know your African origins..

Please contact Ms. Joy Lawrence at 774-2550 or Ms. Clara Newton at 775-5160 of the ASMS or Edith Oladele 773 1959 or email: tostemanu.emancipationstories@gmail.com for further information. Other days and venues will be announced where persons may make their applications during the coming weeks. Don’t miss out on this very exciting and historic development in the lives of the Africans and their descendants on Antigua & Barbuda.

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Throwback Thursday – King Court/Prince Klaas

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“…a ball was to be held in honour of George II’s coronation at Christopher Dunbar’s house in St. John’s, three parties of 350 slaves were to enter the town and kill the plantocracy there gathered. However, the ball was postponed until later to commemorate the King’s birthday, and during this delay a slave named Johnny, became an informer.” (Source)

king court by kurneking court2013.

“…the Prince Klaas/King Court monument designed and built by Sir Reginald Samuel…one of the few sites of public art/sculpture crafted by a native son and …an example of interpretation of moments; how do you capture all a person was and all they are meant to represent in a single moment; the sculpture must hint at character but also give a sense of the larger-than-life-ness that the person is representative of/symbolizes…” (musing on including a stop at the King Court monument as a stop during the 2013 Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project’s daily walkabouts)

Writing at Prince Klaas by Joanne C Hillhouse

Thanks to the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda’s Facebook page for reminding us that this week in Antiguan and Barbudan history (October 20th) when “King Court. was brought to the place of execution- Ottos where he was tied by the wrists and ankles on a wheel. He acknowledged all the allegations against him, and at noon he was broken on the wheel and executed. His head was severed and stuck on a pole at the jail door. The body was burned at Ottos pasture. The chief ringleaders were Jack, Ned, Fortune, Tony, Secundi, and Jacko. All were enslaved Africans in trusted positions. The following day, Tomboy and Hercules along with 85 other masterminds were executed, most were burned alive.”

Full disclosure: There remain some who dispute the account of his bravery and some who defend it. Either way, as a national hero of Antigua and Barbuda he has come to symbolize the spirit of defiance that stretches always toward freedom.

Images: top image from the Museum fb page. All other images from the 2013 Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project’s visit to the monument.

What more do you think we should be doing as a country to honour King Court? Are we doing enough re the upkeep of the monument in his honour? What about the artistry of Reginald Samuel, also the designer of our national flag…has that been sufficiently lauded? Just questions.
As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Seriously, a lot of time, energy, love and frustration goes in to researching and creating content for this site; please don’t just take it up just so without even a please, thank you or an ah-fu-she-subben (credit). If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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JSYWP, on planning city stops and engaging with history

So I realized today (the day before the Day) that in identifying city-stops for the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project walkabouts, I had omitted to include anything at the centre of the African experience which is backwards but not wholly surprising given that so much of what remains (as far as historical-scapes go) has to do with European impact – the Georgian style buildings, the Anglican church with the eagle-eye view etc. I found myself returning to a spot I’d dropped because it was too far outside of the city for our daily walkabout I told myself. But, in this 11th hour, I found myself, ashamed of my omission, squeezing it back into the schedule. That spot is the Prince Klaas/King Court monument designed and built by Sir Reginald Samuel. It was an inexcusable omission as one of the few sites of public art/sculpture crafted by a native son and as an example of interpretation of moments; how do you capture all a person was and all they are meant to represent in a single moment; the sculpture must hint at character but also give a sense of the larger-than-life-ness that the person is representative of/symbolizes. But it was also true that King Court/Prince Klaas, though an African freedom fighter in the Caribbean, was not separate from that tale of European impact, after all it was them he was martyred for rising up against (or plotting to anyway) in 1736. Besides wasn’t it too late to include this, too late to find some way to make his story relatable to a group of young Antiguans and pull from his story something that could be made into a literary activity appropriate to their age group? Maybe. But I couldn’t let it go. Then I remembered reading something about the Akan Shield Dance in which the revolutionaries engaged on the eve of their revolt. I put my Google-fu to work and found these excerpts from David Barry Gaspar’s Bondmen and Rebels (full disclosure: a book that’s been on my to-read list for entirely too long):

Gaspar

(sorry folks that’s where the available excerpt ends…guess like me you’ll have to read the book). Apart from being struck by the desire to see a re-enactment of the dance live, maybe during Independence or Carnival (hint hint Culture Department or Antigua Dance Academy), I liked that it had movement, action, a distinctly African link…and from all that I got an idea for how to use it in a literary activity. See, part of what I’m trying to do in the JSYWP is re-enforce that there is rich fodder for inspiration and our imaginations in our own history, lives, world. And that is the tentative link (apart from having the same leader and investment in the youth and the literary arts) between that project and Wadadli Pen because Wadadli Pen’s core is all about Caribbean-centric stories. What I hope to show is that these don’t have to be clichéd stories, that’s where your imagination comes in. So I’m hoping I can use this bit of their history to fire up their imagination and I’m really glad I revisited the idea of involving Klaas/Court in some way…even if his monument is some distance away from the city proper, writers need to get out and stretch their legs to stretch their imaginations sometimes.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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