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Cane and Fire, Preston Jackson

Cane and Fire

5'h, cast bronze and steel wheels

She was brought here as a child and soon adapted to the evils of the chattel slavery system. She was the last of the true African people--soon after she arrived, the trans-Atlantic slave trade was banned. Right away she took her place as a person of labor. The island she lived on was very much like the land she came from. Even certain animals like bird species and reptiles were familiar to her. As she grew tall and straight-backed, her true beauty became evident. Her only leisure activities were participating in religious rituals and watching the boys perform their play-fighting dances to the beat of skin-topped drums.

Each morning, she and a group of young women were driven by oxcart to the cane fields. She felt fortunate not having to walk, for the distance was great and many barefoot slaves suffered from open wounds on their feet caused by thorned plants and animal bites. One day while approaching the fields, she witnessed huge plumes of billowing smoke and fire. Men and women were moving in all directions, shouting, screaming, some of them angry, some with fear, and some expressing feelings of great joy.

This came to be known as the great slave rebellion, that soon brought slavery to its knees. Although many pockets of plantation slavery still existed, the owners had so much fear for their lives that many abandoned their holdings and fled to the mainland, for the planters and overseers were vastly outnumbered by the slaves.

Cane and Fire detail, Preston JacksonAfter those times of great trails and tribulations, her life improved greatly. The cane she now cut was owned by herself and her husband. They also lived in a house of their own, with a large garden with many domesticated animals. As a memento of her struggles, she still displays her dancelike movement, swinging and twirling the heavy cane cutter ever-so-gently for the entertainment of her free-born children.

©2006 Preston Jackson