Today we will examine Bussa’s Rebellion.

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National Hero of Barbados – Bussa – The Freedom Fighter

Birth Date Unknown – Died in 1816

Bussa's Monument in Barbados

Bussa’s Monument in Barbados

Born a free man in Africa in the 18th Century, the hero Barbadians fondly refer to as Bussa was captured and brought to island as a slave. While documented in historical references as Bussa / Busso / Bussoe – his actual birth name remains a mystery as does the majority of his life. Who were his parents? Did he marry? Did he have children who would carry his name proudly through generations? What is known is… that Bussa had character, strength and a passion to enforce change. It is this courage and sheer determination that is documented in the books of history. It is a fact that Bussa played an integral role in changing the social and political climate of the island.

On Sunday, 14th April, 1816 Bussa, a head Ranger at Bayley’s Plantation, lead what has been recorded as the Bussa Rebellion – a tremendous revolt against the racist, white Sugar Cane Planters which resulted in a battle between slaves, the planters and the First West India Regiment.

The rejection of the Imperial Registry Bill in November, 1815 seemingly ignited strategic planning amongst elite/senior slaves to combat the oppression and racism of which they were subjected to. Lead by Bussa and aided by Washington Franklin, Nanny Grigg and a number of other black revolutionaries, the Bussa Rebellion was not only the first serious uprising since 1692 (124 years) but also the longest. The war which broke out between the two races had a tremendous impact on the historical development of Barbados.

Carefully executed by approximately four hundred slaves at plantations scattered around Barbados, the Bussa Rebellion was geared towards overthrowing the racist white planter class in an aggressive attempt to regain freedom, restructure the politics of the island and create a better life for black and colored people.

Bussa was killed in battle and the revolt, forced into submission by the Regiment who had an armory of superior weapons at their disposal. This slave rebellion, is, however, documented as the most significant revolt in the history of Barbados.

In 1985 (169 years after the revolt) a tremendous bronze statue, symbolizing the strength of emancipation was erected on a roundabout situated on the ABC Highway. Barbadians gave this statue the name of Bussa to honor the courageous freedom fighter.… who is now a household name.

Bussa, a strong symbol of the right to live life freely, is a reminder of the dangers of victimization, the ignorance of racism and crosses countless taboo boundaries. This powerful historic figure can be viewed as an inter-racial, cultural and ethno-centric hero offering strength to those who choose to ‘see’ the significance of representation, are willing to cast judgment aside and look beyond surface perception.

Thanks for your attention.

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One response »

  1. Lyke Teshome says:

    This type of story is inspiring, but also tragic. I mean I understand the message that this story tells, but the fact is that Bussa, still died, and the revolt failed. This story would clearly have had a much larger impact if Bussa had survived and the revolt was a success. Bussa’s real significance would be that he was a symbol of freedom during a time of oppression.

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