Book Review: The Diary of Antera Duke, an Eighteenth-Century African Slave Trader (2010)

The book is a collection of letters and other notes taken by Duke’s clerk between January 18, 1785 and January 31, 1788, edited by Behrendt, Latham and Northrup. Duke was collecting slaves in the area of the Calabar River (now southeast Nigeria). He made friends with the local authorities, had parties with them, and gave them commercial goods and currency. His Efik name was “Ntiero Edem Efion.” Duke notes the high mortality rates during the Middle Passage, up to 30% for several voyages. Once the ships arrived in the New Americas, the slaves were quarantined due to “harbor mortality,” which resulted in even more deaths. (Franklin referred to this phase as “the seasoning.”)

Duke claims Efik merchants sold 15,000 slaves to Europeans during this three-year period, along with 500,000 pounds of yams, and 100 tons of ivory, palm oil, dyewood, and pepper.

This book should be read by anyone who denies that Africans participated in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.


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