Roots are the miniseries based on the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family written by Alex Haley. They describe the history of the United States starting with the colonial times and ending with the Civil War and postwar period. The first two episodes are connected with Kunta Kinte’s life.
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Life in Africa
People who live in Africa are not rich, as they do not pay lots of attention to the material culture. They value the strength of an individual, both corporeal and spiritual. As Binda gave birth to a son, she says that they have a very strong child, underlying his ability to survive. Her husband Omor refers to the sky when he gives a name to the boy asking it to see the one who is greater. The parents’ beliefs and hopes occur to be true to life, as Kunta Kinte repels a wild animal from its prey being a teen. He shows his courage and perseverance, which can be seen through the episodes. Africans obey elder people as they are wiser and can teach others. It can be understood from the talk between the boy and his father, who shared his experience and the leader’s admonition.
African people value their customs and traditions. Kunta Kinte and his peers go through the sacramental and start to be treated like men not boys. They need to have their own huts and get married. The women are to obey men, so when Kunta says his mother that she cannot tell him what to do she apologizes. But his grandmother underlines that she is wiser than him, and he cannot leave his family completely.
Captain Davies is a trader. He carries tobacco, hardware, spices and other things. This time, he is working on a slave ship and has 250 shackles and neck rings for African people. Davies has no idea what they are like and asks Slater, his assistant. It proves that one does not need to be a professional in the sphere to become a slave trader. There are no strict rules one is to follow. The only thing that is really important in the ability to catch and bring Africans. The slave trade is not focused on a particular gender; men and women are to be caught according to the Slater’s words. We can see this further, as Kunta gets acquainted with a girl who was also captured (Fanta).
Moreover, the traders tend to believe that their actions are normal, and slavery is good for black people as it helps them to become Christians and escape from cannibalism.
The blacks from the ship assist white people. They helped to catch Kunta and are gathering people to start the sales. They speak to the potential buyers and recommend them to choose one of the slaves. Except for that, their task is to look after the Africans.
The traders claim that it is convenient to have a black slave as one is ease to find if he/she escapes. Women and men are sold underlying their good physical state. They are put up to the auction. The buyers examine people just like animals. They look at their skin, teeth, hair, etc.
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Life on the Ship
The Middle Passage occurs to be long-lasting and tough for the slaves. Being used to freedom, they can hardly stand the confinement. People lie in rows being in chains and having no opportunity to move.
The members of the crew are rude. They beat Africans and drag them by legs, etc. Kunta refuse to eat the swill that is given, but the other slave says that being a warrior he should eat the food of the enemies to become stronger and kill them.
A female slave is taken to Davies. She is afraid of being raped and beaten, as others are likely to act like that. Captain seems to be more human than them, but he also treats Africans as lower sort of people who are not able to understand everything. He feels that there is something wrong in the things they do to the blacks. Davies talks to his co-worker and shares his opinion. He believes they do harm to themselves conducting such actions.
The slaves try to fight and become free again, but the revolt is put down. Some Africans died, and Kunta’s friend is one of them. Moreover, many people got ill being in their cell.
My perception of the Slave Trade
Before watching these episodes, my perception of the slave trade was a bit different. I was surprised as I saw that black men helping to catch potential slaves. They seem to be really happy to have such opportunity. I knew that people had to live in terrible conditions, but I hoped that the situation was better, as they were to be sold. I also expected to see that the slaves had to work being on the ship, but that was not so. Now I understand that they would fight with the crew in such situation. I also thought that the captain was the cruelest person on the ship who despised the blacks. In other aspects, the movie fits my perception of the slave trade. I expected the Africans to be caught by force, be locked up and treated poorly until the auction.