fresh/press TV review – THE BOOK OF NEGROES (part 5)

This time around on BOOK OF NEGROES we spend the duration in Nova Scotia. Aminata awaits the birth of her & Chakura’s child. Free blackmen seek employment, with limited opportunities. This Canadian city doesn’t accept their new inhabitants creating conflict within the community.

Aminata does what she does best. She writes. She implores the government to action. She implores them to help her fellow people. She takes her letters to the printing press. The racist White woman running the press doesn’t believe Aminata wrote the letters. She couldn’t possibly be capable of such intellectual feats. But she is. Aminata is more than capable.

Eventually she earns a job at this racist newspaper which prints articles against the Negro. The White woman says Aminata is “one of the good ones” (or something like that). Basically, she isn’t like the others. She can be trusted with this occupation. Unfortunately, other free men seeking employment accept the last resort option and indenture theirself into servitude. Aminata urges a friend not to sign his life over, but he can’t find any other way to eat. This sequence clearly paints the picture as to how someone can sell themselves to another. It somehow rationalizes the irrational.

BEN CHAPLIN portrays a British Abolitionist

Aminata’s pleas (via letters) are finally heard and the British send a familiar face. Hope is on the horizon. A British colony awaits the free Blacks. They are promised ownership of their very own land. They are promised their own community. The catch? A 1000 people are needed. And it’s all the way over in Sierra Leone. The upside? Former slaves have an opportunity to return home to Africa.

This hope is tinged with darkness. Only free men and women can go. Those that are indentured to servitude are still bound by contractual shackles. The man Aminata warned is refused transportation and inclusion on this voyage Home. It’s a heartbreaking reality. The filming is restrained and matter-of-fact. There is no over-the-top emotional audience manipulation going on. It’s a clear-cut terrifying fact for the indentured man or woman.

This episode introduces us to a pivotal character played by screen legend LOU GOSSETT JR. He portrays a learned old blind man. Despite his seeming disadvantages, he is a sort of Mayor for the freed Black men and women. A man Aminata signed into the real BOOK OF NEGROES takes her under his wing as she arrives on shore. He also tends to Gossett’s character.

A pregnant Aminata is led to the Black community stricken with cholera. She must seek employment, care for her child, and reunite with Chakura. Eventually, the two lovers reunite but all is not well. Chakura will have heartbreak to contend with. I won’t spoil why here. American readers keep your eyes peeled, B.E.T. will air this soon – in 2 hour segments over 3 nights.

slave trade routes

An interesting area of social commentary is explored when poor Whites compete against freed Blacks for low paying jobs. The Whites should blame their employers, as they offer the Black workers a fraction of pay for the same work. These rich employers create serious conflict with their desire for profit, thereby endangering people we have come to care for. Lives are lost once a riot breaks out between the two races. This sort of danger keeps this historical epic exciting.

Canadian director Clement Virgo on the set in Cole Harbour, N.S.

Next episode is the finale. We will finish our journey alongside Aminata. I hope she gets to live happily ever after with husband and children. However, this is history. And history isn’t always happy. Especially, when history is aimed on the lives and deaths of Black men and women.

What did you think?

Will these actors earn award nominations? Is AUNJANUE ELLIS Juno-bound?

Is this mini-series too slow and dry?

an excerpt from history

Does this show change how you view American history?

Does this series give you hope?

What will happen next? How will Chakura and Aminata’s legacy be remembered?

How important will Aminata be in a new society over in Sierra Leone?

Will she be able to leave behind the indentured servants? Will she continue the fight for their freedom from Africa?

the author and his book

So... What'd you think?

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