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Barbados National Hero - Bussa


National Hero of Barbados - Bussa - The Freedom Fighter

The Freedom Fighter

Although not much is known about the man, Bussa was born a free man in West Africa.

There is basically no biographical information available about Bussa; his actual birth name still remains a mystery, as does the majority of his life.

What is known is that he was captured by African slave merchants in the late 18th century, sold to the British, then transported as a slave to Barbados.

What is also known is that Bussa had strength of character and a passion to enforce change. It is this courage and sheer determination that is recorded in the history books.

The man Barbadians fondly remember as 'Bussa' played an integral role in changing the social and political climate of the island forever.

Note: Existing records do show there was a slave called 'Bussa' who worked on a plantation in St. Philip around the time of his rebellion.

The Revolts

'Bussa's Rebellion', as it is known, was the first of three large-scale slave rebellions in the British West Indies in the years leading up to emancipation. It was followed by the large-scale rebellion in 1823 in Demerara (now part of Guyana), and by even larger rebellion in 1831 - 1832 in Jamaica.

Did you know?

This group of rebellions is otherwise known as the 'late slave rebellions'.

The revolts arose at a time when the British Parliament was working to improve the conditions of Caribbean slaves. The House of Assembly discussed and rejected the Bill which would have registered colonial slaves, and hence Bussa's historical rebellion began soon after.

Bussa's Rebellion

On 14 April 1816, Bussa lead a large-scale revolt against the Barbadian elitist 'plantocracy'.

This resulted in a tremendous battle between the slaves, the planters and the West India Regiment (a part of the British Army), and had a significant impact on the historical development of Barbados.

It was the largest slave revolt in Barbadian history, lasting two days, whereby hundreds of slaves rose in rebellion under the leadership of Bussa.

The planning was undertaken at a number of sugar estates, and among Bussa's collaborators were Washington Franklin, John and Nanny Grigg, a senior domestic slave, as well as a number of other slaves and black revolutionaries.

Carefully executed by approximately four hundred slaves (400), the Bussa Rebellion was geared towards overthrowing the white planter class in an attempt to regain freedom, restructure the politics of the island, and create a better life for black and colored people.

Bussa was killed in the revolt battle, forced into submission by the Regiment who had an armory of superior weapons at their disposal. Fifty enslaved people also died in the battle and seventy were executed in the field.

Note: Another three hundred were taken to Bridgetown for trial - one hundred and forty-four (144) were executed and one hundred and thirty-two (132) sent away to another island.

This slave rebellion is documented as the most significant revolt in the history of Barbados.

Bussa's legacy lives on...

In 1985 (169 years after the revolt) a large bronze statue, the 'Emancipation Statue', was erected on a roundabout situated on the ABC Highway in Barbados in honor of Bussa.

The statue represents a slave breaking free from chains, symbolizing strength of emancipation and is a nod to Bussa the courageous freedom fighter, who is now a Barbadian household name.

In 1998, by an act of Parliament, Bussa was again publicly honored by being named as one of the ten official National Heroes of Barbados for his significant contribution to the island's history and development.

This powerful and historic figure in Barbadian history represents emancipation and freedom to many, and his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of Barbadians for generations to come.

By: Brett Callaghan
Feedback and Reviews
Back to: Barbados National Heroes
Visitor Rating: 10.00 from 1 users
Information Assumed Accurate On: Apr 26, 2015
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Visitor Comments:

By: Michelle
It saddens my heart that there is no picture of Bussa like as of the other Heroes,Marcus Garvey etc. I am so proud of Bussa, and i wish we had better knowledge or knew more about this great and significant individual,thanks to Bussa we are free,i hope one day soon we have a book about Bussa so that our Barbadian youths and people around the world would know of him.
Date: Aug 10, 2013

By: Liz Radesich
Date: Jul 31, 2013

By: mary
thanks. this help me ver much on my project.
Date: Apr 28, 2013

By: M.S
This is a very helpful and easy way to read about your history. ( the history of your country ) i found it a very interesting article.
Date: May 29, 2012

By: A. Harewood
"Because of one Many were Slaved"
And by one a Nation was Freed!
Date: Apr 27, 2011

By: F. Best
Thanks Bussa! thanks for standing up
Date: Apr 19, 2011

By: Darla
If it weren't for Bussa we might not have been free for so long (if free at all)

Thanx Bussa u didn't have to do it but u did
Date: May 13, 2010

By: F. Atkins
I think that in mentioning the statue of Bussa, you would have mention the sculptor Karl Broodhagen....
Date: Nov 23, 2008

By: ryan underhill
where can i get more information on the revolt in 1692?
Date: Jun 2, 2007

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