I first learned of the “Igbo Landing Legend” from my class, ‘Jazz & African American Literature’. I had found it interesting and very moving. The legend takes place in 1803, and is referred to by some as the first “freedom march” in America.
It begins in May 1803, when a ship full of captured West Africans (Igbo people from what is now Nigeria) lands in Georgia, where they are shortly sold later. After being sold in Savannah, the 75 Igbo people were chained and loaded onto a small ship on its way to plantations in St. Simons Island. During the sail to the island, the enslaved Igbo rose up, rebelled, and overtook the ship, drowning their captors.
After overtaking the ship, it had crashed into land. The Igbo aboard had not wanted to become slaves, causing all 75 of them to commit mass suicide (theorized to be a command from a high Igbo chief). The mass suicide was committed by drowning, they walked into the Dunbar Creek. Many believe that the Igbo sung a tune local to them about, their “water spirit”, saying that the water spirit will take them home. Through this, they knowingly accepted death rather than the horrors of being captured and enslaved in America.