Reconstructing the Black Image: Section 2. Black Warriors: Resisting and Assisting

by Gordon de la Mothe

The second work in Gordon de la Mothe's series, in this work de la Mothe explores the African response to slavery and colonisation.

The artist, Gordon de la Mothe, came to England from Grenada in 1958 and worked his way up in teaching. He created a series of teaching sessions looking at social and historical context in which the derogatory images of black people were constructed, leading to a recognition of their distortion and inaccuracy. It was eventually published into the book Reconstructing the Black Image.

Reconstructing the Black Image: Section 2. Black Warriors: Resisting and Assisting (1987) by Gordon de la MotheBlack Cultural Archives

Nanny the Maroon

In Jamaica, runaway slaves were called Maroons. At one stage they were led by a woman called Nanny, ... now considered one of the greatest planners of raids and ambushes...they often defeated the British soldiers sent against them. Eventually Britain was forced to sign a treaty which gave the Maroons a free state within the colony.

Olaudah Eqanio or Gustavas Vasa

He was an enslaved man who learned to read and was baptized as a Christian. "He later bought his freedom from his master, wrote a book about his experiences as a slave and helped in the campaign for the abolition of slavery in England."

Toussaint L'Overture

He "led the only successful rebellion of Black Slaves in the New World when he liberated Haiti from the French."

Among the Christians

There are paintings from the 11th - 15th Centuries depicting black men fighting in the crusades.

The Triumph of Caeser

Taken from a 15th century painting by Mantegna (now on display at Hampton Court), this black soldier is very much part of the Roman army.

Ann Zingha

Sent as an emissary by her brother to arrange a treaty with the Portuguese in 1622. She refused to pay tribute to the King of Portugal or accept him as her overlord. She became Queen after her brother's death and continued to resist the occupation of her land, even becoming Christian and appealing to the Pope for independent recognition.

Gordon de la Mothe wrote of this selection of images: "It is hoped that this... set of images has indicated how black people played an active part in their own liberation from that recent period of slavery."

Credits: Story

Reconstructing the Black Image by Gordon de la Mothe [Trentham Books, 1993]

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