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Aminata from "The Book of Negroes"

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In our day to day life, our education is what helps us thrive and survive. The same can be said for Aminata, the main character of The Book Of Negroes. Through her, the novel shows how slavery affected black people. Her intelligence is what helped her become free, she was vital to the abolitionist movement due to her ability to read, write and communicate in English and African making it easy to communicate between the slaves and Englishmen. Her heightened intelligence is what kept her alive and ended up assuring her freedom. Aminata used her intelligence and strength to survive slavery, one of the hardest things a person could go through. Aminata’s strength kept her going.

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Aminata’s use of her intelligence to survive is seen many times through the novel. Firstly, on the slave vessel, being multilingual and adapting to the English language quickly; she stood out, the Englishmen needed her to communicate with the slaves, she was given special treatment and didn’t sleep with the rest of the slaves. It was clear then and there that her intelligence will take her places. After reaching South Carolina and being bought by Appleby, her intelligence introduced her before she did, Georgia made excessive comments about her learning to speak and work quickly “She done learn so fast, she said. ‘Zing zing zing. Words fly out of her mouth like eagles” (Hill 129). Georgia and Aminata went around the village “catching babies”, Georgia passed on her knowledge of herbs and their uses to Aminata “I have never seen someone from Africa learn so fast” (Hill 143). Mamed also caught on how smart she is and decided to try to help her learn to read and write, even though it was prohibited for black people to be able to read the language of the “white”. Not much time later, this proved to have ended up in her benefit when Mr. Lindo discovered she could read.

After Mr. Lindo discovered she could read he decided to buy her from Appleby, I after doing so he educated her further, mainly for his benefit as she would end up working for him. He gave her the chance to learn the monetary system, taught her arithmetic and language, obviously she picked up on it quickly and liked the challenge. “Exactly why I purchased you, I knew you would catch on fast. I saw the intelligence in your eyes and I wanted to lift you up.” (Hill, 201) After their learning sessions were over, Amanita ended up working for him his employment of Aminata changed her living conditions significantly, she was able to read and educate her self, keeping track of his accounts and writing letters on his behalf for no charge. His wife also gave her a book every month to read, he allowed her to continue being a midwife and to keep the money she earned except pay him 10 shillings a week, all while providing her a stable living environment. This gave her a safe place to stay for 13 years which helped calm her mind from her past traumatizing experiences and regain her strength. She made a great deal of profit for him. Her intelligence allowed her to be valuable in the eyes of Mr. Lindo, protecting her, being a better master than her previous one and not using physical violence. He even took her on a trip to New York after his wife had died so she wouldn’t “wither” alone in his house. Mr. Lindo’s trip to New York provided Aminata with the first step towards her freedom. She escaped his custody and became a free woman. The lessons he taught her came into play again when looking for a job, she was hired by Samuel Fraunces who gave her money for helping him out with his finances at the tavern, her experience as a bookkeeper for Mr. Lindo is why Sam hired her. She spread her knowledge to other black people “She the best teacher I ever done had, Claybourne said. (Hill, 293) which spread her name “You made quite a name for yourself in New York,’he said” (Hill 306) and she was asked to write “The Book Of Negroes” due to be being African and literate. This gives Aminata a head start towards her life in New York. Yet again her intelligence helped her survive.

Writing “The Book of Negroes” guaranteed Aminata and Chekura place on a ship to Nova Scotia. Although Chekura couldn’t make it, Aminata stayed strong and tried to provide for her daughter. Her intelligence came into play one more time when she was looking for a job, it was a bad time for the economy due to the competition over wages with the black settlers. However, Aminata’s ability to read and write sets her apart and she finds employment at a print shop and works for a wealthy white family called the Witherspoons, who later kidnapped her daughter. In Nova Scotia, Aminata finally meets someone that can take her to Africa and with her help, they gather people from the community and leave to Africa. In Africa she learns Temne and lives in Freetown for a couple of years till she can arrange to be taken to her village, being as smart as she is she doesn’t let the men know she can speak Fulfulde which saves her when after walking for days on end she faints and overhears them talking about how they will sell her back into slavery. Isn’t it a shame how much this woman endured and how many times she has to save her self? She makes a break for it and escapes to a tiny village, she brings them honor by telling them stories of her life and they provide her with a place to stay until she decides to move to England to help the abolitionists and testify to the parliament about the atrocities of slavery.

Aminata’s intelligence helped her become a free person again and put her in a good position when dealing with Englishmen and finding jobs. She cared about others and always tried spreading her education to fellow blacks. Her literacy helped the slaves flee to Nova Scotia by registering them in “The Book Of Negroes” her contribution of writing down all their names in the book was an important part to help advance the abolitionist movement. Therefore, Aminata’s intelligence helped her in many ways in becoming free again.

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