Someone’s speaking in Ba-kongo another answers a question asked in English with a phase of Wolof
Someone is telling a joke in Mandingo a young man – salt water African – becrys his fate in Swahili (1)
Eighty-eight-year-old Levi Ganges died on September 13th, in 1846 from the complications of a stroke and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. He was born ‘Lahy,’ son of Malcauba, an African tribal chief. At approximately forty-years-old, he was kidnapped and placed on a slave ship destined for the sugar cane plantations of the Caribbean.
Mr. Ganges was one of the 135 enslaved Africans rescued in 1800 by the U.S.S. Ganges, an American naval ship.
Mr. Michael Kearney has diligently researched the history of this incident and the genealogy of the Ganges family. For his authoritative account, please go to https://thegangesfamilies.com/
Mr. Ganges was a member of the Susu people, also spelled Soso, a West African ethnic group, one of the Mandé peoples (Mandingo), living primarily in Guinea and Northwestern Sierra Leone. (The photo below is from the New York Library Digital Collection,)
The Pennsylvania Abolition Society volunteered to take over the care of Black men and women of Africa. The Society put into place a program where the new citizens would be indentured for a number of years. They would be clothed, housed, and taught a trade. Levy/Lahy Ganges was indentured for four years to Enos Eldridge, a farmer in Darby County, Delaware County, to be taught the fundamentals of agriculture.
In September of 1839, it became known to the lawyers arguing for the freedom of the Africans rescued from the slave ship Amistad that Mr. Ganges spoke their language and could be valuable as a translator. He traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to meet with his fellow countrymen. The pertinent documents concerning this meeting are on Mr. Kearney’s website.
My research is focusing on Mr. Ganges life between the end of his indenture and his translation work with the Africans of the Amistad.
Lahy, son of Malcauba, died on a cool and clear September day where the temperature only rose to sixty-six degrees by late afternoon. There was a total eclipse of the moon on the evening that he passed away. He was buried, with dignity, at Bethel Burying Ground.
(1) Meditations in Congo Square by Lamont B. Steptoe, p, 32. (Camden, NJ: Whirlwind Press.