By Diane Frost
Frost reclaims the forgotten historical past of a gaggle of West Africans, the Kru, who as ship’s employees and seafarers contributed significantly to British colonial alternate with West Africa.
"Ms. Frost presents us with a fascinating account of this awfully cellular team of Africans... she is ready to attach the earlier with the current not just by utilizing archival fabric but additionally lately performed interviews."—International Migration evaluation
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Extra resources for Work and Community Among West African Migrant Workers since the Nineteenth Century
The Kru themselves encouraged their maritime identity since they had a vested interest in preserving this occupational niche for themselves. This development coincided with the colonial administrators’ consistent promotion of a Kru occupational identity sustained by their conviction that the Kru were naturally good seafarers and ship workers. This exempliﬁed British colonial attitudes which embraced the belief that certain ethnic groups were ‘naturally’ good at certain work. These beliefs, in turn, helped the Kru conﬁrm their own perceptions of Kru identity as being bound up with maritime work.
W. Davis, Ethnohistorical studies on the Kru Coast, Liberian Studies Monograph Series, No. 5, 1976; P. N. Davies, ‘Sir Alfred Jones and the development of West African trade’ (MA Thesis, University of Liverpool) 1963. 32 Work and Community Among West African Migrant Workers trade in pepper began to fall off and slaving on the Liberian and Ivory Coasts simultaneously increased in the eighteenth century. The Kru appear to have performed two roles in this, as actual traders in slaves, and as workers on the slave ships.
The washer women at Sierra Leone have lately employed their hired Kroomen in carrying home baskets of wet clothes from the brook. 32 The value attached to and preference for Kru labour was illustrated in the higher rates of pay they were awarded during the 1830s and 1840s, vis-à-vis other African workers, particularly Creoles. 33 Later, a British naval ofﬁcer conﬁrmed the continued activities of the Kru in the timber trade in Sierra Leone during the 1850s: Besides serving on board ship, they hire themselves out as indoor and out-of-door servants, but they never enlist.
Work and Community Among West African Migrant Workers since the Nineteenth Century by Diane Frost