Christmas as a Slave

How has been your Christmas? I hope it was filled with love, laughter, good food, music and you had a good time with your family and/or with your friends.

There are still over 795 million people in the world without having the privilege of having one ‘good meal’ per day.

According to hunger is the leading cause of death in the world.

Whilst I was sitting with my Christmas dinner I had to think of Solomon Northrup and his story in “Twelve Years a Slave”. He was an Afro-American abolitionist born free, kidnapped and brought into Slavery. In his book, he has shared his experiences as a Slave around the 1840’s in America. His stories are with great detail and give the reader a deep look into his life as a slave.

You might think, Slavery was a long time ago. It’s better to leave the past behind us. 

I think it’s not. As long as we do not acknowledge the pain and the struggle of our fellow humans, and our ancestors, from the past the wounds continue to slowly fester into our present. It’s not an excuse to say: “I have nothing to do with it.”

In his book, Solomon describes his life amongst slaves on the plantations in the ‘deep south’ of America. When you read the book or watch the movie you might find yourself in disbelief that things like this have happened.
We have humans amongst us so barbaric. Cruelties like tortures, violence, and inhumanity have not only happened in the past. As we know, they are still used.

I had to think of Solomon during my Christmas dinner as he portrayed how it was for most of the slaves during Christmas. Three days, for some it was four or five, depending on how many days their master permitted them to have free time; of the whole year for a bit of freedom. 

These days were for many the only thing to look forward to during the whole year. 

For many, this meant 362 days of struggle, constant fear from the next burst of cruel treatment by their master’s, and poor meals, often barely enough to be full. 362 days of being treated like an underdog.

So, Christmas, these three, four or five days were special. They meant fear was not there, if only for these days. Some visited friends and family on other plantations. Christmas meant people would dress in their best clothes. They would come together and have a feast, sometimes with goodies and cakes, other than the portion of corn and fatty pork which they got during the year. 

They would sing, and dance, and celebrate as if there was no tomorrow.

During my meal, I thought of Solomon and the Christmases he had during his enslavement. 

Who knows what it means to hunger? 

Who knows how to celebrate and be grateful?