The Talking Drums of the Amina

The Talking Drum of the Amina
The Talking Drum of the Amina (as the ruling Danes called the Akwamu) – the beating according to the code was given to send mesages among the slaves of the islands in a morse code of its time. The signal for the start of the revolt in St. John was given this way along with the firing of the cannon.

They echo still, the talking drums:
Through time they echo down…
To those who listen they shall hear
The screams of the soldiers of the Danish Crown

Who were slain by weapons brought in in wood
A trojan horse carried in the arms…
By the slaves who fought or would die for freedoms sake
Who toiled often to death on the plantation farms.

It was not to last – what a six months it was! –
This freedom that they had known!
Defeated by the Danes and the French
Among the army: free folk from among their own.

Some jumped to their death from Amina Hill
Sooner to be shackled again as slaves
More died in the fight or shot themselves
They lie in unmarked graves.

Were they born again in thier homelands as they believed?
Do they walk again among us today?
Christianity says no but we do not know
As to God and Gods we pray.

Let our prayers be for forgiveness
For our forefathers who then did wrong,
Let the talking drums beat into the future
To inspire hope as the beat of Freedoms Song!


In one of the many revolts of the slaves on St John in the Virgin Islands, the drumming of the slaves who were of Akwamu ethnicity wasnt just inspiring music, but a code to send messages over and back. They took over the fort by smuggling in weapons in armfuls of timber into the fort, and then overcominging and killing all the guards bar one who escaped. They held out on island for six months, living as free people until Denmark with French help, and some Free Blacks who joined the colonists armies, but them down with brutal force. Some Amina committed suicide sooner than be enslaved again.

* Akwamu was the ethnicity of the rebels, but were called Amina by the Danes. They back in Africa themselves were a slaveholding society, conquored and sold by their former subjects.



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