The Middle Passage:
Shipping Lanes for Human Cargo
Few can imagine the horrors that awaited our people aboard the slave vessels. The filth, the stench, the loss of life, the disease, the packing of men in spaces so tight that they could neither turn, nor stand, nor squat, nor sit, it is beyond human comprehension. Yet such were the conditions that our people were forced to bear during the hellish journey from Africa to the New World—the passage known as the Middle Passage or Maafa ("the massive disaster").
Surely you must wonder, how did our people survive? With the world against them, the days dark and dreary, how did they believe and keep hope alive? There is no way to explain their fortitude, except to say it was faith in God, in their god, in a god who heard their prayers and, as with the children of Israel, promised them deliverance.
Religion and spirituals have always been crucial to African people. It was the way our ancestors sought to explain the unknown and to appeal to powers greater than man.