By way of Facebook I came across Beyonce’s ‘Love Drought’ video and its depiction of “Igbo Landing” an act of mass resistance by Africans against slavery.
Beyonce’s video draws inspiration from an act of resistance against slavery, popularly known as the Igbo Landing. The story of Igbos who were brought to America to be slaves but vowed to drown themselves than be slaves in a foreign land.
Igbo (Ebo/Ibo) Landing
“For those who don’t know, Igbo Landing is the location of a mass suicide of Igbo slaves that occurred in 1803 on St. Simons Island, Georgia. As the story goes, a group of Igbo slaves revolted and took control of their slave ship, grounded it on an island, and rather than submit to slavery, proceeded to march into the water while singing in Igbo, drowning themselves in turn.
They all chose death over slavery. It was an act of mass resistance against the horrors of slavery and became a legend, particularly amongst the Gullah people living near the site of Igbo Landing” Mikael Owunna
These events have had enduring symbolic importance in African-American folklore and literary history. The mutiny by the Igbo people has been referred to as the first ‘freedom march’ in the history of America. Although for more than two centuries most authorities considered the accounts to be an Afro-American folktale, research since 1980 has verified the factual basis of the legend and its historical content.
Beyonce’s entire video is set in occurs in a marshy, swampy landscape which is very reminiscent of what the shores of slave landing will be like, and in addition there’s a lot of random imagery that points to the slave trade and landings. One of them is seeing Beyoncé physically bound in ropes, and trying to resist the pulling.
Though, I continue to remain wary of the ‘Beyonce Agenda’, this is one of the several recent artistic references Beyonce has made to African history and discourse related to Pan-African popular culture. It’s great she’s referred to it and brought an important movement in African American history to the present day.