The human condition is the inescapable features of being human. But what makes us human? Is it the capacity for compassion, or the ability to lack it? The human condition is the inescapable features of being human. But what makes us human? Is it the capacity for compassion, or the ability to lack it?
I've always believed that apathy is a shameful anesthetic. Indifference is dangerous.
Yet, I cautiously admit that endless reportage of atrocities throughout the world, past and present, can be so overwhelming to acknowledge sometimes, because there is just SO MUCH distress a person can absorb; there is only so many times you can be horrified by the capacity of and for human cruelty... so much that the more you know, sometimes, unforgivably, the more it has less impact on you. Some would say this is despicably egocentric and some may say it's a necessary self-preservation tactic, but however you classify the detachment it is still a contemptible disconnection.
Caring less about the victims who have actually had to endure true horrors is simply unforgivable. If it bothers you to even think of another being's suffering, just imagine having had to live through it. And if you can't take the time to honour that, to know gratitude, well... there's that question about the human condition again.
The Slave Factory can be read as a powerful, poignant reminder to not forget the ultimate degradations that you have not had to suffer, of the inhumane treatment and dehumanization of an entire race of peoples who had been reduced to nothing more than a commodity.
This book is to help you remember that even though the Trans-atlantic Slave Trade was finally abolished in the mid-nineteenth century, human beings should never become de-sensitized to the futility and despair suffered among the millions of African people who were mercilessly enslaved and who's painful and tragic suffering should never, ever be forgotten.
It's estimated that more than 15 MILLION Africans were forced from Africa to be sold into slavery, (if they even survived the Atlantic slaving voyages) and that means there are more than 15 million PERSONAL STORIES, millions of which are UNTOLD, of enslaved people who had to cope with unthinkable brutality and agony before they ever arrived to a plantation. It was a process of madness.
In the short span of just 50 pages, you have a chance to rediscover the cruel and sobering realities of the Atlantic slave trade through the fictious yet realistic characterisation of a captured man named Bowlu, who has been sold into slavery.
Through a simple narration you see into his mind and heart as this haunting story unfolds describing tragic mental suffering, physical pain and tireless exertions. Also chronicled in several other voices as paths cross at Porto de Maria, the slave factory central to this story.
I really appreciated this story; I needed to be reminded of that level of suffering. How only the absolute, absolute minimum amount of basic needs were provided to these starving and beaten people while the maximum amount of work and other "services" was expected of them.
It will make your stomach turn to know that the suffering of beatings, rapes, starvation, humilation and tortures were accepted, and in many cases, welcomed, and even lost their edge, as the terror of living in your head, the agony of mind, while being cramped inside a slaving vessel for months on end while in transit to the Americas, was far more dreadful to some people.
"because it means a few hours away from the stink of five hundred chained men and a few minutes of seeing the night sky."
This is a very short story, but is long enough to understand the tragedy, and be affecting. I'm not sure anything longer would bring any more merit to the story.
It's disturbing, it's grave, it's surprising and the ending, well, this is really a story about the human condition, and nothing underlines that more than the ending.
[Disclaimer: I won this book as a First Reads winner during a Goodreads Giveaway on Jun 27, 2012, however the review is my own honest opinion and I was not solicited by the author or any agent of Goodreads.]...more