Sweet cru­elty

Sugar plan­ta­tions were run by African slaves who were tor­tured, but they also re­volted against their masters

Down to Earth - - HISTORY - KAUSHIK DAS­GUPTA

Iwhen Christo­pher Colum­bus set sail for the New World, N 1943, he took saplings of sug­ar­cane with him. The crop flour­ished in the hot sun­shine, heavy rain­fall and fer­tile soil in the Caribbean is­land of Santa Dominga. Colum­bus re­ported to his pa­tron, Queen Isabella of Spain,that “sug­ar­cane grows faster in West Indies than any­where else in the world”.

For the sugar-lov­ing Euro­peans, this suc­cess was heaven-sent. For cen­turies, sugar was a luxury item cov­eted by Euro­peans. How­ever,most sugar-pro­duc­ing ar­eas were in the Ot­ta­man,Persian or Mughal em­pires and the Arabs con­trolled the sugar trade mak­ing the sweet­ener an ex­treme propo­si­tion for the Euro­peans.Chris­tians chaffed at pay­ing high prices to Mus­lims for what they thought was

French dis­tilled brandy used sugar from plan­ta­tions run by slaves. This was again traded in Africa for more slaves

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