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Case Study 2: Barbados (1816) - Bussa and Nanny Grigg

Bussa Statue

Bussa

Very little is known about Bussa (also known as Busso or Bussoe). He was born a free man in Africa in the 18th century, captured and brought to Barbados as a slave.  His existence is documented in historical records but there are no details about his life. It is not known if he was married or his exact age. What is known, is that he was a head Ranger at Bayley's Plantation. He was also brave, strong and determined to enforce change.

On Sunday, 14th April, 1816, he led a rebellion against the British sugar cane Planters involving over 400 enslaved people. The uprising had been carefully planned for some time, following the rejection of an Imperial Registry Bill in November, 1815. It was executed by enslaved people at plantations scattered around Barbados.

The rebellion was the first in 124 years and resulted in a battle between the enslaved people, the planters and the First West India Regiment.  Bussa was killed in battle and the revolt was quelled, due to the superior weapons of the army. This slave rebellion, however, was the most significant revolt in the history of Barbados and changed the social and political climate of the island.  Bussa became a symbol of the right to live in freedom.

Nanny Grigg

Little is known about Nanny Grigg, other than she was valued at £130, which was expensive for an enslaved person. She worked at the Simmon's plantation. She was a literate woman and knowledgeable about the Barbadian revolution. She was one of the senior enslaved people who helped to plan the uprising. Nanny Grigg told her followers that the only way to obtain freedom was to fight for it.

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