ABSTRACT

As the wooden ship weighed anchor in Luanda Harbor, a Portuguese chaplain dipped his hand into the animal feed trough and sprinkled holy water, thanking his God once again for safe delivery from the sea. African onlookers in this Central African port of call would later describe the scene on board the arriving ship.3 They saw the copper cauldrons and the great barrels filled with red wine and cheese and believed them to be the preparations for a horrible feast of the white cannibals. The red wine they believed was the blood of slaves and the white man’s cheese made from the brains of his enslaved victims. Pressed bodies supplied the oils of the soups. The bones of vanished slaves had been ground into gunpowder. Steaming kettles on board the ships were most certainly awaiting the fresh supply of purchased African slaves to be loaded on board. From the earliest days of the Atlantic slave trade, the haunting hunger for daily food formed the basis for both comprehending and surviving its horrors.