Profile of Bussa, Barbados Pocket Guide

Bussa (D. 1816)

Not much is known of Bussa as slave owners were never really concerned about keeping detailed records about the lives of their slaves who essentially were considered their property. We do know however, that Bussa was born a free man in Africa but captured and brought to Barbados to work as a slave on Bayleys Plantation in St Philip.

While on the plantation Bussa worked as a domestic slave and a ranger. This was considered a privileged position as it meant he didn’t have to endure the hardships that the other slaves endured. Slaves who held the position Bussa held often time felt they were better than field slaves and would even go as far as exposing any plans field slaves had so as to gain favour with their masters. Bussa’s position allowed him greater freedom of movement and therefore allowed him to plan, coordinate and execute the rebellion.

The Bussa Rebellion

The “Bussa Rebellion” got on the way on Sunday April 14th, 1816 after final preparations were made on the night of Good Friday April 12th of that same year. The rebellion began at Bayley’s Plantation but strategic planning was undertaken at numerous sugar estates throughout the island. Preparation for the rebellion began soon after the House of Assembly discussed and rejected the Imperial Registry Bill in November 1815. By February 1816, the decision had been taken that the revolt should take place in April, at Easter. Bussa led approximately 400 slaves into battle at Bayley's on Tuesday, 16 April into what was considered Barbados’ longest slave revolt.

The rebellion proved to be quite an element of surprise for the white plantation owners who were caught off guard. Slaves fought courageously against the troops of the First West India regiment and it was reported that the rebellion spread from plantation to plantation until about half of the island was caught up in the revolt. It took four days for the authorities to regain control.

It was this very battle that Bussa and his accomplice Washington Franklin so strategically pioneered that Bussa was killed in. His troops continued the fight until they were defeated by superior firepower. Despite the failure of the rebellion, its impact was quite significant to the future of Barbados.

The Emancipation Statue & Inscription

Inscription on the Emancipation Statue, Barbados Pocket GuideIn 1985, the Emancipation Statue (commonly referred to by all Barbadians as "Bussa Statue) located at the St. Barnabas Roundabout, was unveiled to honor the 150th anniversary of emancipation and to symbolize the broken chains of slavery. The bronze statue was created by one of Barbados' most revered sculptors, Karl Broodhagen, who died at the age of 93 in 2002.


Bussa was officially declared a National Hero in 1998. “Emancipation Day" is a national holiday in Barbados, is celebrated to commemorate the emancipation of slaves who were still in captivity on plantations at the time.


Emancipation was officially granted in 1834. This was abolished four years later but still didn't improve the slaves as they became tied to the plantations as tenants without rights.


Every year on the first Monday in August, a march takes place through the streets towards the Emancipation statue on the ABC Highway. It culminates with a ceremony that celebrates the abolition of slavery which is held on this spot with parades, speeches, educational displays and performances. His statue is viewed by millions annually.


At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we should remember them.


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