Cudjoe? Cudjis? Kazoola? Cosula? Kossula?
For the first I read it and re-read very rapidly, so I decided to research what happened to him, his family, and his community.
BARRACOON is more of a oral history of how Kossula or Kazoola happened to be kidnapped from modern day Nigeria and spirited away to the stockades of modern day Benin. He survived the Middle Passage, was smuggled into Alabama on a dare, survived only 5 years of slavery to the ripe old age of 95 years young in America.
He was very forthcoming in his beginnings. This was something not prevalent during this time. Tradition and pride bred out of the memories of the slaves born in America. He understood, in order to understand him and how he came to be Cudjoe, because his white captors where too lazy to dane to pronounce his given name; you had to understand his beginnings. How he lived a continuation of his life if he had been left in Nigeria. He and the other Clotilda survivors farmed land, fished, hunted and supported each other much the same way his ancestors had did for centuries in Nigeria. He lived as an African and died as an African.
Kossula came to America illiterate, but he and his community were self made. He is on the earliest voter registration records.
I don’t have any indication if he traveled much outside of the small confines of Mobile and Plateau Alabama but his marker is very prominent in the cemetery he helped to maintain most of his life and where his family is buried. The Africatown inhabitants, bought the land with pooled funds from their white ex-captors, they built their own homes, school, and infirmary to take care of their own, very similar to the village he had been stolen from. They acclimated on their own terms. If you refer to the map of the area, the village is right in the middle of an industrial wasteland, but they lived and survived and existed. From the description from is earliest inception, this was a little kingdom in plain sight. I wonder if Stan Lee and the other Avenger™creators had this in mind when they created the Kingdom of Wakanda in Black Panther™?
Africatown is experiencing a Renaissance, it only took 92 years after the Harlem Renaissance in the 20s. The current residents are converting it from a holding area that came to being on a bet to the dumping ground of companies like International Paper to a modern day story of rebirth replete with history trails combined land and water. Wankanda Forever? Africatown Forever!