In his well-documented work No More, No More, Daniel Walker provides an example of the inventive techniques to expose slavery in the universe. Indeed, the ultimate intensity of Walker’s book is in his multidisciplinary approach. The author’s estimation makes him set out questions concerning traditional sources. He also utilizes a new quantity of primary data. Through his proficient mixture of published primary and secondary works from a thoroughly assorted set of disciplines, Daniel Walker presents a fresh argument concerning the significance of cultural manifestations to those oppressed by the slave power.
In the book No More, No More, Daniel Walker equates Havana's annualEl Día de Reyescelebrations with the monthly slave celebrations of the New Orleans's Congo Square to reveal how the urban slaves utilized the cultural manifestation as a means of resistance. The festival was celebrated on 6th January, when El Día de Reyes, the Catholic holy day of epiphany,also known as "Day of the Kings," supposedly honored the customary festival of twelve days following Christmas. During this ceremony, free persons of color joined the enslaved in a disorderly theatrical procession through the roads of Havana (Walker 18). Every Sunday in historic New Orleans, Congo Square (currently known as Armstrong Park) represented a meeting place for the enslaved Orleanians. This is the place, where they spent their traditional day of leisure. Slaves participated in singing of traditional songs, dancing and drumming.
At first glance, New Orleans and Havana create a natural coupling for a relative study of the urban enslavement in the Caribbean world. The two acted as the locus for massive slave-based estate economies. Additionally, they both had universal statuses as slave trading midpoints. The author has exposed how the beginning of the nineteenth century witnessed the Toussaint L'Ouverture's transformation. The revolution had further connected the two cities in fear, and also because they were the two main destinations for the slaveholding immigrants of St. Domingue (Walker 6).
However, in several essential aspects, the relationship between New Orleans and Havana during the timeframe of Daniel Walker's research is one of the departures. Whereas Cuba lingered within the feeble Spanish state, Louisiana approached by degrees into the circle of Anglo America. In fact, the author emphasizes how this notion, which floated away from the Latin world, brought significant cultural and legal changes during the nineteenth century. This also changed the demographic arrangement of Louisiana's enslaved population dramatically. New Orleans was one of the major centers for slave exchange in Mississippi Valley. Therefore, it became the main opportunity, through which slaves from the damaged eastern estates moved to the lucrative terrains of the historical southwest. Despite the fact that some African slaves reached the America’s shores after the prohibition of the international trade in 1808, the increment in Orleans's enslaved population came through the birthrate. In contrast, Cuba’s slave population suffered an astonishingly high mortality rate. Moreover, up to 1850s, African slaves continuously reached the Cuban coasts in large numbers.
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A tale of two cities growing separately cannot ordinarily provide a comparative research like this. Unfortunately, Walker makes many assumptions focused on the consistency of the folk traditions and cultural identity between slave populations of these cities. Therefore, the strong assumptions that Walker yields concerning the tenancy of African traditions in Havana appear far less appropriate in terms of Orleans as the 19th century reaches its average (Walker 40). The fact that there is moderately substantially small quantity of the primary data concerning Congo Square also gives the Walker's proportional framework a disproportionate appearance. Thus, whilst this is a thorough study of slave traditions in Havana, this manuscript is far less of the New Orleans.
The novelist has devoted an essential quantity of time during his work to analyze create the meaning of traditions in African culture and the dedicated visual language linked with these celebrations. He then labels the transformation and persistence of certain dances, rituals and songs as they emerge in the slave communities of the New World. Walker asserts that masking, dancing and singing found among slaves of New Orleans and Havana reflected a syncretism of the African tradition. Early 19th century slave populace of these two towns was not conquered by the cultural customs of the most leading African tribes; rather, a pan-African identity established that the recognized commonality of all slaves, both in the sense of shared mystical values and the ways how those values were associated to their current reality within North America. In consonance with Walker, these mutual values shaped the core, in terms of which slaves could express resistance and forge solidarity (Walker 67).
Lastly, Walker highlights the claim thatCongo Square and El Día de Reyesfunctioned as a receptacle for the pan-African uniqueness. Once more, the author appears to be far better equipped to validate this claim for Havana, rather than New Orleans. The reason for this lies within comparisons between the two towns’ breakdowns become dramatic, when one evaluates the impacts of class and pigmentation on one’s self-identification. Havana retained something in terms of a specific regulation long before the emergence of the Jim Crow South; moreover, the unity between nonwhites was possible. Therefore, in the merriment ofEl Día de Reyes, one established a color spectrum among its contributors. In contrast, among the handful of printed accounts that provide a description of Congo Square, few free and light-skinned Afro-Creoles appear. Indeed, as Walker easily admits, this class frequently and consciously dissociated itself from the entire African legacy.
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