Emancipation of slavery in the Caribbean of Nicaragua

With the influence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the territory that today is known as the Caribbean of Nicaragua, the Mosquitia Kingdom was born in 1633 as a protectorate that was led by Miskito Amerindians in alliance with the British.

This region had its king and both he and his descendants, who were originally from this area, were sent to Jamaica, Belize, or England to receive their academic preparation, to later return to serve the Mosquitia.

The most popular towns in the kingdom at that time were Bluefields, Corn Island, Pearl Lagoon, and Sandy Bay, which was the capital until it was moved to Bluefields in 1787.

Enslaved people were brought to this land from Africa, especially from the West, where they would perform domestic chores and work on the plantations’ gowns, since exportation was made from this region, especially cotton, to Liverpool, England.


They also planted sugar cane, coconut, and other products that were used to prepare food for their masters; they cleaned the yard of those who had enslaved them, washed their clothes, and brought water from the wells to supply their houses. These were arduous activities, without any rest. They were subjected to inhuman treatment, so much that many of these men and women tried to escape, without succeeding because they were chained.

The destiny of the enslaved changed in the year 1841, when Colonel Alexander McDonald, superintendent of the English crown in British Honduras, today Belize, arrived at Pearl Lagoon and Bluefields on August 10 to emancipate 27 and 43 people, respectively. 


McDonald arrived at the Corn Islands on the 27th of the same month to the shores of Southwest Bay, where he summoned the owners and their slaves to read the act that proclaimed the freedom of 99 men and women of African origin in the name of Queen Victoria of England and King Robert Charles Frederic of the Mosquitia.

Interestingly, by 1834 all territories under British occupation had to have emancipated their slaves by mandate of a law approved by the English Congress a year before, however, the Caribbean was one of the last places to hear this news.

After the emancipation of the enslaved men and women, some remained in the territories of the Mosquitia, others formed their own families, and had children with the descendant of Europeans, thus giving birth to the Creole ethnic group. Other freedmen decided to migrate to other parts of the Caribbean, seeking to connect with their ancestral roots.


The only place on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua that celebrates this historical event massively has been the Corn Islands, and this custom began between 1852 and 1859 with the arrival of Reverend Edward Kelly from British Honduras, who was the son of former slaves and dedicated his life preaching the gospel. Kelly evangelized the Corn Islands and literate the population after establishing the Ebenezer Baptist Church and School on August 25, 1852.

Crab soup is the main dish and a symbol of freedom in the emancipation from slavery festivities on the Corn Islands. It was the only thing the newly freed men and women had prepared to celebrate their freedom, they had it for supper while dancing to the rhythm of ancestral songs.

The emancipation from slavery is celebrated to remember the struggle of the ancestors of the black community of the Caribbean and to celebrate the freedom that was given to thousands of men and women of African origin.