SONG: The Slaves Lament (1792) by Robert Burns

Am I Not A Man and Brother the motto of the abolitionist movement
WCRAG
Robert Burns - The Slave's Lament (Christine Kydd)
Brina - The Slave's Lament (Jamaican version)

Burns and Slavery

‘Am I not a man and a brother?’
Or as we sing with our Burns,
‘that man to man the world o’er, shall brothers be for a’ that.’
That is his true belief. Let it be so.

When Davidson arrived in Scotland in 1801 as a fifteen year old boy he would have seen the parallel between white serfdom and the black slavery he was so familiar with in Jamaica. That iconic Wedgwood symbol must have made an impression on the young William Davidson.  An impression that led him to recite the rebel words of Burns as he faced a horrible death on capture.

‘The Slave’s Lament’ (Robert Burns 1792)

It was in sweet Senegal that my foes did me enthral,
For the lands of Virginia, – ginia, O:
Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more;
And alas! I am weary, weary O:
Torn from that lovely shore, and must never see it more;
And alas! I am weary, weary O.

All on that charming coast is no bitter snow and frost,
Like the lands of Virginia, – ginia, O:
There streams for ever flow, and there flowers for ever blow,
And alas! I am weary, weary O:
There streams for ever flow, and there flowers for ever blow,
And alas! I am weary, weary O:

The burden I must bear, while the cruel scourge I fear,
In the lands of Virginia, – ginia, O;
And I think on friends most dear, with the bitter, bitter tear,
And alas! I am weary, weary O:
And I think on friends most dear, with the bitter, bitter tear,
And alas! I am weary, weary O:

Ultimately Burns did not sail to Jamaica in 1786, his first book of poetry was published – and the rest is history. But what if Burns had gone to Jamaica at the time that William Davidson was growing up, what would his songs have sounded like? To answer this question, Jamaican singer Brina recorded, Jamaica Sings Robert Burns, in Davidson’s birthplace, Kingston, Jamaica.

http://jamaicasingsburns.com/

Below are the words Brina adapted from Burn’s original poem:

‘The Slave’s Lament’ (Jamaica Sings Robert Burns Brina 2015)

It was in sweet Senegal that my foes did me enthrall,
For the isle of Jamaica O.
Torn from that lovely shore, and must ne’er see no more;
Oh alas! I am weary, weary O!
Torn from that lovely shore, oh must never see no more;
Oh alas! I am weary, weary O!

All on that charming coast was no brutal whipping post,
Like the isle of Jamaica O.
Where streams for ever flow, and flowers ever grow,
And alas! I am weary, weary O!
There streams for ever flow, and children ever grow,
Oh alas! I am weary, weary O!

The burden I must bear, while the cruel scourge I fear,
On the isle of Jamaica O.
And I think of family dear, with a sorry, bitter tear,
Oh alas! I am weary, weary O!
And I think of family gone, with a sorry bitter scorn
Oh alas! I am weary, O-o-o!

It was in sweet Senegal that my foes did me entrap
For the isle of Jamaica O.
Torn from that lovely shore, Mama Africa,
Oh alas! I am weary, weary O!
Torn from that lovely coast, Mama Africa,
O ah ya, ya ya ya..

We were carried beyond, our own home
Seh we were taken beyond, Mama Africa’s shores,
We were carried beyond, our own shore
We were carried beyond, Mama Africa’s shores,

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