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Things to do in Exuma

  • Writer's pictureJackie

Pompey Memorial and Steventon Jail Ruins

West of Georgetown is the town of Steventon. (Follow the signs to the memorial statue of Pompey and the ruins of the Steventon jail.) Pompey is a national hero who led a slave uprising. After his cotton plantations failed, Lord Denny Rolle, founder of Rolle Town and Rolleville, and the largest slave owner in the Bahamas, left Exuma and returned to Britain. The slaves continued to labour in the local salt flats and at subsistence farming, under the watch of an overseer that Rolle had left behind. In 1829, with only a week's notice the overseer announced that a group of slaves would be moved to Cat Island. In protest, about 80 slaves hid in the bush. Led by the then 32 year old Pompey, they stole Lord Rolle's salt boat and - men, women and children - headed off to Nassau in a daring attempt to ask the governor to intervene. They were apprehended enroute and returned to Exuma to cheering crowds.

To make an example out of Pompey he was given 39 lashes in a public whipping. This began a period of slave rebellion and strikes that lasted nearly 10 years. In the fiollowing years, soldiers were sent from Nassau several times to quell unrest. Pompey's rebellion is seen as the first slave rebellion and organized resistance in the Bahamas.

Finally, on August 1st, 1838, slavery in the Bahamas was abolished. Today, the emancipation is celebrated with a holiday and a sailing regatta on the August 1st weekend.

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