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It’s All About the Rice – The Sierra Leone/South Carolina Connection

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It’s All About the Rice – The Sierra Leone/South Carolina Connection

It’s All About the Rice – The Sierra Leone/South Carolina Connection

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Following this, I went to the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon building, one of the oldest buildings in Charleston and where outside of the building, enslaved Africans were auctioned, together with horses and other animals and goods.

Figure 2: Sign near the Old Auction at the site of Slave Auctions

Over the next couple of days, I visited several plantations, including Mepkin Abbey, which used to be the plantation belonging to Henry Laurens. Henry Laurens was the chief agent in Charleston for the company of Oswald, Grant and Sargeant, the most successful owners of Bunce Island in the mid–late 1700’s. He also became President of the Continental Congress and was one of the signatories of the Treaty of Paris that formally gave the United States its Independence. A signatory to this treaty on the British side was Oswald. He owned 20,000 acres of rice plantation and was one of the richest men in Charleston. I also visited Rice Hope Plantation, where I was given some Bennie seed snacks.

Figure 3: Henry Laurens tombstone in the Laurens cemetery

 

Figure 4: Mepkin Abbey with the Ashley River and original rice plantation beyond the middle bank

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Mr. Melbourne Garber was raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone and attended the Prince of Wales School. He obtained a B.Sc degree in Civil Engineering and Mathematics and a Masters degree in Construction Management from Leeds University in England. He is a professional engineer and a member of the Institution of Structural Engineers, UK, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Sierra Leone Institute of Engineers. He is currently the Director of Building at Gedeon GRC Consulting. He has been involved with the design of numerous projects, notably The British Library in London, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey, the John F. Kennedy International Arrivals Terminal, the Frank Sinatra High School of the Arts, the African Burial Ground National Monument and the United Nations Permanent Memorial to the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in New York City. After the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center on 9/11, he was among the first group of engineers to assist with search and rescue operations. He is the President of the Prince of Wales Alumni Association, New York/New Jersey Chapter, President of the Krio Descendants Union (KDU) Northeast region and immediate Past Chair and Historical Archivist of the KDU Global Leadership. He is a member of the Board of the National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America (NOSLINA) and a member of the Sierra Leone Community of New Jersey (SLCNJ) organization. He is actively involved in efforts to preserve the Bunce Island Slave Castle and a member of the Management Practices in Construction committee of the Construction Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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