Adanggaman (2000)




Director:    Roger Gnoan M'Bala. 

Starring:     Rasmane Ouedraogo (Adanggaman), Albertine N'Guessan (Mo Akassi), Ziable Honoré Goore Bi (Ossei), Bintou Bakayoko (Ehua), Nicole Suzis Menyeng (Adjo), Mireille Andrée Boti (Mawa), Tie Dijian Patrick (Kanga), Lou NadPge Blagone (Safo Aboua), Anastasie Tode Bohi (The Castanet Girl), Didier Grandidier (Bangalajan), MylPne-Perside Boti Kouame (Naka), Étienne Goheti Bi Gore (Poro), Zie Soro (Sory), Sie Lou Chantal (Amazon), Sokpo Germaine (Amazon).

role of black Africans in supplying the human beings for the European slave trade


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

Wandering procession, lost in a mirage, on the route of the slave caravan, Madingue, Arada, Bambara, Iba, Ashanti, Fanti, Yorouba, moaning a song choked by iron collars. 

An African man named Kanga screams:  "I am not a slave."  He has an iron collar around his neck and the African slavers put a iron cup around his mouth to keep him silent.  Then he is draped with a thick net to keep him from moving about. 

Africa, late 17th century.  A young man named Ossei is courting his girlfriend.  He tells her "I want you so badly."  But she says she has to fish.  There are a number of women in the stream fishing already.  She joins in and catches a mud fish.  Later Ossei and his father get into a verbal argument.  Ossei refuses to marry Adjo selected by his father N'go.  Dad tells him:  "You will not marry that slave girl."  The slave girlfriend hears this and just drops the fish on the ground and walks away from it.  At night Dad brings the woman Adjo to Ossie.  They will know by tomorrow whether Ossie will obey his father or not.   Some of the men back up the father by saying:  "Ancient laws must be respected." 

Dad speaks with mom about their son.  He starts to blame his wife for his son's disobedience.  She objects, but he tells her:  "I swear on your life that I will discipline him."  When everyone has gone to sleep Ossei goes to see his girlfriend.   They talk for awhile.  When he leaves he is chased by some of the men.  They catch him and beat him with clubs.  That should teach him a lesson, the men say.  When Ossei regains consciousness he decides to leave his village.  He packs his things, takes some of his weapons and goes to check in on his sleeping girlfriend.  He then leaves.

Soon after leaving the village, the African slavers attack Ossei's village.  Alerted by the noise, Ossei returns and finds many dead villagers, including his father.  But he can't find his mother.  He asks his father's corpse "Where is mom and my girlfriend?"  He starts screaming:  "Mother!  Where are you?"  He goes to find his mother.  He finds a group of African men and women driving the captured villagers who are now slaves.  He sees his mother in the parade of slaves.  Two young boys try to run away but the "Amazon" women chase them, grab them and bring them back.  They tells the boys:  "You will be beaten for this!" 

Ossei sets fire to the grasslands.  The result is a lot of chaos and panic among the slaves.  He uses the confusion to rush in, grab his mother and rush out.  They hide in the bushes, but are soon discovered by the Amazon Naka.  Mom is taken back to the group.  Ossei breaks away and starts running for his life.  Naka is able to catch up with him.  She starts to whip him, but Ossei wrestles the whip out of her hand and throws it into the grassland.  Naka then takes out her sword.  She is able to knick Ossei in the right arm and he goes down.  He tells her:  "Finish it!  Kill me!"  But she decides just to leave him there.  She returns to the slaves. 

The slavers and slaves reach the village under the command of King Adanggaman.  He holds a Royal Council where he talks to the chiefs of each territory within his kingdom.  Adagba, chief of the province of 21 oxbow lakes, speaks up, telling the emperor of emperors, that he brings 100 bushels of corn, 100 of rice and 50 of sorghum.  In addition he brings 1,000 head of cattle, 550 sheep and many, many chickens.  Adanggaman tells Adagba that he did a terrific job.  Then the King speaks with Tchakoto.  But he does not bring much with him, just a couple hundred birds.  The only other news is that he wiped out all the men, women and children of the turtle-eaters.  The King becomes very angry at Tchakoto because he needs people to expand his kingdom. 

A slave named Kanga tries to escape and the Amazons run after him.  He is fast, but so are the women.  When he takes a break, they catch him and surround him with their spears.  They take him back to the village.  There is a big celebration because so many slaves were brought in.  Ossei arrives at the village.  An older resident of the village taps Ossei on the shoulder.  He notices that the young man has been "marked" by the Amazons, "those killers".  The old man tells Ossei that he will treat his wound. 

The King inspects some of the slaves.  He meets "the unruly one" Kanga.  Adanggaman tells the Amazons to put him on the next shipment.  A couple of very big men grab Kanga and take him to a fenced in area.  His hands are tied behind his back, he is put in an iron collar and then a net is placed over him.  The King inspects Ossei's mother.  He gives her a new name, "Botimo" meaning a female monkey.  But mom just tells off the King.  She says that he has sold his soul by engaging with the white men in the slave trade.  She adds: "Botimo is you!"  The King becomes very angry and tells the Amazons to take "this witch" away. 

The old man tells Ossei that he has stopped the gangrene.  Then the two men talk about the slave trade.  The strongest of the slaves are sold for shipment to other countries.  The weaker ones are sold to local Africans. Children under six and the sick are killed.  The old man then asks Ossei who he is.  Ossei says he is from the "land of the Panther People" and a hunter.

The Amazons gives each slave about two handfuls of corn, which they quickly consume.   Kanga shouts "I am free!" 

The old man consults with the cowry shells to help divine the future.  He tells Ossei that hard times are coming.  

King Adanggaman is not happy with the quality of rum he received from the Europeans.  Ossei and the old man request and are granted a meeting with the King.  Ossei tells the King that he wants to substitute himself for his mother.  The King laughs at him for, as he explains in great detail, everything around them belongs to him.  He adds:  "I am the law here!"  But he likes Ossei's audacity and tells his people:  "Send in that old harpy."  The old man recognizes one of the Amazon women as his daughter, Naka.  He talks a little with Naka.  Mom is brought to the King.  His decision is to sell Ossei to the Dutch and to severely punish Ossei's mother.  Ossei and the old man are thrown in with the rest of the male slaves.  There the old man explains to Ossei that the Amazon who stabbed him is his daughter Naka.  Fifteen years ago she was taken away by slavers.  She was only seven years old.  While conversing, the old man falls over.  Ossei begs him:  "Don't give up!"  Naka sees what has happened to her father and is upset.  Heavy rains fall on the skins of the slaves held out in the open air.  Ossei hears a woman calling for help and he screams:  "Adanggaman, what are you doing with my mother?"  The Amazons put the iron cup over his mouth and place a net over him.  Ossei's mother is taken out with quite a few other people and tied to a huge tree trunk. 

Naka gets up at night to check on her father and Ossei.  A red blanket is placed over the head of the old man indicating he has died.  Naka runs to the tree where some of the slaves are tied up.   Meanwhile, the other Amazons wake up and then get up.  Naka frees Ossei and they run away. 

The day arrives for the sale of some of the slaves to the Africans.  A healthy fellow gets up on the block and is made to dance in step for the buyers.  The Africans purchase the slaves using farm animals and food stuffs.  Then the slaves are branded. 

Naka and Ossei run and run and run.  They then stop and she takes off Ossei's iron collar.  They start to run again but Ossei grabs her spear from her.  He tells her that he is sick of all the killing and violence used by the Amazons.  When she realizes he is very serious, she tells him to kill her if he wants.  She throws her sword to him.  Ossei realizes that she will not hurt him, so he and she agree to go on.  Naka tells him that she wants to see the land of her father again.  She does not remember where the house is, but Ossei knows where it is.  They reach the house, but it is abandoned.  She goes inside and finds her childhood bow and arrows.  They hug. 

Naka and Ossei start cultivating the ground.  Ossei goes out hunting.  Naka tells him to be careful.  But he seems completely nonchalant and very foolish. He goes along whistling which seems beyond stupid.  The Amazons hear him coming, set up an ambush and capture him.  One stays with Ossei, while the others go to capture Naka.  She is more cautious and hears their rustling.  She is able to kill two of the Amazons and get away.  As she runs to the aid of Ossei, two shots ring out and she goes down in a heap hit by two rifle bullets.  Two Amazons check her and then walk away.  She is later found by a man who tells her that she will live. 

Ossei is taken back to join the other slaves. 

April 13, 1685, Adanggaman, drunk with rum, is captured and sold into slavery by one of his aides.  He became a cook in St. Louis under the name of Walter Brown.  Stricken with tuberculosis, he died November 21, 1698 without a penny to his name. 

Ossei was sold to a rich plantation owner named John Stanford.  He married a young slave who gave him five children.  He died at age 70, never having gained his freedom. 

The movie is dedicated "To all the Africans who suffered the iron collars and chains of slavery and to the children and their children who bear their scars."


Good movie.  Especially interesting since it is from an African perspective.  The story is a sad one dealing with human brutality to other humans.  All humans are the same, including the tendency of way too many to abuse their fellows.  The Europeans, the Americans and South Americans, the Islamic world and the Africans all share the blame for slavery.   Nice documentation of the terrible horrors the slave had to go through on the first part of their passage into slavery. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


Historical Background:

The historical commentary on the DVD disc says that of all the slaves sent to the western hemisphere, the United States only received 4% percent.  The West Indies received 42% percent and Brazil receives 38% percent.  And if you count the number of slaves send to other parts of the world, such as the Islamic world, the percent of slaves receives by the United States is around 2% percent.  Cowry shells came only from the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean.  They were used as currency in Africa until the late 19th century.  The film was somewhat controversial because it emphasized the complicity of the Africans in the slave trade.  The slave trade developed not because Africa was weak, but because it was strong.  The Africans could often dictate the terms of the slave trade to the Europeans.  The Europeans had to trade on Africa's terms. 

In many places the African slavers, especially in Dahomey, used females as the slave guards because they were cheaper than using men.  One thing wrong in the movie was that the King's palace was presented as much too modest.  The King had a rather elaborate palace. 

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