Creolizing Currents: Bambara

West Africa, 1753
Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville, "A new and correct Map of the Coast of Africa from Cape Blanco... to the Coast of Angola... With Explanatory Notes of All the Forts and Settlements belonging to the several European Powers." London, 1753. Courtesy the Historic New Orleans Collection (2000.31.2).

West Africa, 1781
Rigobert Bonne, "Angola et Benguela, avec les pays voisins autant qu'ils sont connus." (Paris: Lattre, 1781).

This 1781 map shows West African coastal islands and ports from which captifs were shipped to Louisiana: Isle et Fort de St. Louis, Isle Gorée, Isle Bissao, Judah (Whydah, Ouida) and Cabinda.

Coastal Africa, 1787
J.B.L. Clouet, "De la Guinee, du Congo," Geographie moderne (Paris: Mondhare et Jean, 1787).

This map shows Cabinda in the South, where one of the French Colonial slave ships bought captifs to New Orleans.

Coastal Africa, 1743
Homann, Anville and Hass, "Guinea propria... Aethiopia Inferior" (Nuremberg: Homannianorum Heredum, 1743). Bibliotheque nationale de France, departement Cartes et plans, CPL GE DD-2987 (8086 B).

Bambara Lands, 1827
Philippe Vandermaelen, "Bambara, Afrique 20," Atlas universel de geographie physique, politique, statistique et mineralogique. (Brussels: Ph. Vandermaelen, 1827).

The lands of the Bambara in West Africa, during the French Colonial period.

The Atlantic Coast of West Africa, 1742
Guillaume de l'Isle, "Afrique Francoise ou du Senegal," Atlas nouveau (Amsterdam: Covens & Mortier, 1742).

The Coast Around Ile Gorée, 1707 or 1718
Guillaume de L'Isle, Detail of "Carte de la Barbarie, de la Nigritie, et de la Guinee" (Paris, 1707, 1718?).

Ile Gorée, 1772
Jacob van der Schley, "Plan de L'Isle de Goré" (Amsterdam 1772). University of Florida Map and Imagery Library (ALW1662).

Whydah (also called Juda, or Ouidah), Guinée, 1725
Jean Baptiste Labat, "European Trading Posts at Savi, 1720s," Voyage du Chevalier des Marchais en Guinee (Amsterdam, 1731). In Thomas Astley, A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels (London, 1745-47). Image Reference 3-064, as shown on, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. See also Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-106828.

This plan includes the European slave compounds and illustrates the African town the French called Juda. The French compound is the large one in the center left of the picture, between the smaller Portugese and English establishments, with a Dutch compound in the right foreground.

Governor Bienville in New Orleans designated Judah as the port for the first French ship sent by the Company of the West from France to purchase slaves for lower Louisiana in 1718. Bambara purchased from their captors, the Mandinga, were taken to the compound to await embarkation to Louisiana. The captifs, are seen in front of their arms-bearing captors, being marched to the compounds.

The Company of the West wrote instructions to the captain of the Aurore, Sieur Herpin. He was to sail from St. Malo and head to the coast of Guinea to carry on the trade in negres there. He was instructed to make landfall between Cape Mount and Cape Mesurade, now the western coast of Liberia, then to continue to Juda, trading for both negres and rice. Along the way Herpin was to trade for negres who knew how to cultivate rice and speak French. Besides trading for three or four hogsheads of rice suitable for planting, he was instructed not to trade for any negre or negresse more than thirty years of age or less than eight.

The vessel was large enough to contain four hundred negres, according to the Company officials. Herpin was also to trade for the corn the negres would need on the voyage. Sieur Herpin, all his officers and the surgeon were directed to take great care of the health of the cargo. Herpin was to find Portuguese vessels on the coast of Guinea, to trade with them for Brazilian tobacco to the amount of two or three hundred pounds. The letter said:

On his arrival at the [French Louisiana] colony Sieur Herpin will cast anchor at Ile Dauphine [off the coast of Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico east of the French settlement at Mobile]. He will first send his ship's boat ashore to inform the directors of his arrival; next he will deliver his negres to them, and he will follow in everything the orders that they give him.

Reference: "Documents Covering the Beginning of the African Slave Trade in Louisiana", 1718, translated at the Library of Congress by Albert Godfrey Sanders and published in The Louisiana Historical Quarterly.

La Balise, 1720
Inset from "Plan of New Orleans the Capital of Louisiana... traced by M. de la Tour in the Year 1720" (London: T. Jefferys, 1759). Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University.

La Balise, where captifs from Senegal were disembarked. Many West Africans served as sailors at this landing site.

La Balise, 1723
Pierre Le Blond de La Tour, "Plan [et profil] des ouvrages proiettes a faire a l'isle de la Balise avec les logements necessaires." Archives Nationales d'Outre-mer (FR CAOM 04DFC 106C).

Law's Concession, Biloxi, 1720
Jean-Baptiste Michel Le Bouteux, "Veuë du camp de la concession de Monseigneur Law, au Nouveaux Biloxy, coste de la Louisianne." Newberry Library, Cartes Marines Manuscript Map Collection (Ayer MS map 30, sheet 77).

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New Orleans from the West Bank, 1726
Jean Pierre Lassus, "Veüe et Perspective de la Nouvelle Orléans." Archives Nationales d'Outre-mer.

The New Orleans African American Museum (NOAAM) is located in Faubourg Treme, at 1418 Governor Nicholls Street, phone (504) 566-1136.

Generous assistance provided by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation.