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The Mimbo Wampo Series

During the 17th - 19th Century, it was very common place for 'white' men in Jamaica to have a 'negress', as they were called at the time, as his mistress. Though the modern interpretation of these relationships almost always suggest that they were relationships of cohesion and rape. The truth is far more complex than many have been lead to believe, as some contemporary historians are tempted by current views on the subject to confine all relationships between the enslaver class and the enslaved classes to these two narrow confines of social sexual interactions. However as with all human relationships there is never the proverbial black and white line to be drawn, there were many shades of grey as well. Love, social mobility, social advantage, and sex for financial gain or favour, was in fact as equally prevalent as coercion and rape was. As can be seen in this segment taken from a 19th Century Jamaican Cartoon strip published by William Holland in 1804.

Who was Mimbo Wampo

The cartoon tells us that Mimbo Wampo was in fact the daughter of Wampo Wampo, the King of the Silver Sand Hills in Congo. This meant she was a Princess of a noble African Kingdom in Central Africa. This was not uncommon because members of African nobility, aristocracy and royalty were often captured by rival tribes and sold unceremoniously to the 'white' slave traders on the coasts of Africa, as they waited hungrily to accept all who would bring them their next consignment of human cargo to be sent to the New World as black gold. Many Slave traders made mighty fortunes out of the human misery they peddled. 

Though the cartoonist claims her origins as being in Central Africa her first name Mimbo which was more correctly written as Mimba was likely an Akan day name, for women born on a Saturday, now whether she received the name in Jamaica from her enslaver's or carried it with her from Africa is not the subject of the cartoonist brief cursory discussion on her origins.

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Enamored Johnny Newcome visits the local Obi man 

Obeah or Witchcraft was practiced by all facets of Jamaican society in the 17th to 19th century, and to a major extent it is still practiced today by a wide cross section of persons, however visits to the obeah man or obi man were usually associated mostly with the art of acquiring a loved ones affections, love potions and love knotting spells were most common. But what is less known is that some White men were so enamored by the occasional 'Negress', that he too could be seen frequenting the dusty thatch huts of the 'Obi' man looking to gain her affections, through spells and potions, in Jamaican parlance,' to tie her or him to you' usually forever, or so it was believed, was the order of the day.

The Romance is established 

This image emphasizes the inequity of the relationship as it blossomed, for even-though Johnny Newcome declares his undying love for Mimbo, the fact that she is seated on the ground picking out the chiggers which have infested his foot. We are reminded that this is relationship between a master and his chattel property, his slave.

Mimbo made Queen of Newcome's Harem

Johnny Newcome, like so many white planters of his time, had a harem of ladies, a mix of enslaved women and free mixed race women, ranging according to the particular man's tastes from girls as young as twelve years old to as old as he wished. Jamaica's sexual consent laws were only changed in the late 20th century, from 12 years old to 16 years old. These women and young girls were often provided for variously, from the lofty status as Mistress of the Great House, if indeed there was no official wife present, to the well maintained enslaved girl who was allowed a small or large hut of her own on the estate, or the well looked after mixed race lady, with her beautifully constructed town cottage, however most only received minor financial assistance and a modicum of gift giving to appease the ladies heart. Such were the pleasures of Jamaica in the 17th -19th centuries, for a man of means or should I dare say just a man, for even the Overseer, Estate Carpenter, mason, or whatever trade to the lowly Book keeper could have his fair share of ladies. As long as his pocket could oblige.

Johnny Newcome's Mulatto Children by Mimbo

1.Lucretia Diana Newcome, a delicate Girl very much like her Mother; only that she has a great antipathy to a pipe, and cannot bear the smell of Rum.—2 Penelope Mimbo Newcome. 3 Quaco Dash Newcome prodigiously like his father.—4 Cuffy Cato Newcome. 5. Caesar Cudjoe Newcome.—6 Helena Quashebah Newcome— 7 Aristides Juba Newcome.—8 Hector Sammy Newcome, a child of great spirit, can already Damnme Liberty and Equality and promises fair to be the Toussaint of his country.—9 Hannibal Pompey Wampo Newcome.

The Mulatto is by classification the child of a Caucasian person and an African person, and as a result they were the inevitable result of the bringing of two diverse people's together. Some were lucky enough to have attained freedom by the hands of their fathers' through a process called Manumission. However a great many were left in the unfortunate confines of enslavement, a status they would share with their enslaved mother's, because one's social status in regards to freedom or enslavement was passed through the mother. Even while free their rights as citizens were extensively curtailed by a host of restrictive laws passed primarily by a frightened white Plantocracy afraid of the growing wealth and influence which this intermediate class of individuals were gaining through very generous inheritances from their very wealthy fathers. Hence their freedom was mostly in name and action only, true freedom was reserved only for 'white' persons in this blended unequal society.

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