Rebels Matilda Agnus and Mary

Free Events

A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery and Resistance with Stella Dadzie

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm | 10 March 2021
Online | Free

Enslaved West Indian women had few opportunities to record their stories for posterity. Yet from their dusty footprints and the umpteen small clues they left for us to unravel, there’s no question that they earned their place in history. Pick any Caribbean island and you’ll find race, skin colour and rank interacting with gender in a unique and often volatile way.

Stella Dadzie follows the evidence, and finds women played a distinct role in the development of a culture of slave resistance, a role that was not just central, but revolutionary. From the coffle-line to the Great House, enslaved women found ways of fighting back.

Whether responding to the horrendous conditions of plantation life, the sadistic vagaries of their captors or the peculiar burdens of their sex, their collective sanity relied on a highly subversive adaptation of the values and cultures they smuggled with them naked from different parts of Africa. By sustaining or adapting remembered cultural practices, they ensured that the lives of chattel slaves retained both meaning and purpose.

Enslaved African women who led revolutions

Breffu, originally from Ghana, was an Akwau leader of the 1733 insurrection on St. John in the Danish caribbean. Breffu led the longest recorded rebellion inNorth American History. 

A Kick in the Belly makes clear that their subtle acts of insubordination and their conscious acts of rebellion came to undermine the very fabric and survival of West Indian slavery.

Join Stella Dadzie to discuss the role of women in Caribbean rebellion as part of Lambeth Libraries International Women’s Day celebrations.

Register to attend here

Header Image: A bronze sculpture of the historic Three Queens Mary, Angus and Matilda. Davina Sutton

MARY, AGNUS & MATILDA – Nothing is better than a rebellious sisterhood. In 1878, another violent rebellion took place in the Danish Caribbean. The Rebellion on St. Croix, led by three women played a considerably active role leading this rebellion. The three women along with many other slaves burnt houses, sugar mills, fields, and stores on around 50 plantations! Over half the city of Frederiksted also burnt down and thus, the rebellion is locally known as the ‘Fireburn’. There is a statue of the three “queens” on one main road in St. Croix called Queen Mary Highway.

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