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Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis (ca. 1840 – 1935) is considered the last person born on African soil to have been enslaved in the US when slavery was legal in parts of it. He was captured with more than 100 other Africans and brought on the ship Clotilde to Mobile, Alabama in the United States in 1860 during an illegal slave-trading venture .
When the slaves were divided among the investors in the deal, Kazoola (his African name) and 31 other enslaved Africans were taken to the property owned by Timothy Meaher, shipbuilder and owner of the Clotilde. Due to a federal investigation, the Africans were at first left to fend for themselves. They quickly built shelters and started hunting game. While they could not legally be held as slaves, they were effectively controlled by Meaher as if they were. Five years later at the end of the American Civil War in 1865, slavery was abolished, and Lewis and his people were set free.
Lewis did not return to Africa, although he and his tribespeople requested repatriation. He and the other Africans established a community at Magazine Point near Mobile, Alabama which became called Africatown. They maintained their language and tribal customs for years and he was very much a community leader even meeting with prominent people such as Booker T Washington. The neighborhood was also called Plateau and was eventually incorporated within Prichard, a suburb of Mobile.
Cudjoe was the longest-lived survivor of all those who were brought aboard the Clotilde and died in 1934 aged 114. He was the last African American (via the transatlantic slave trade) who was born in Africa. Before he died, he gave several interviews on his experiences, including to the writer Zora Neale Hurston. During her interview in 1928, she also made a short film of Cudjoe, the only moving image that exists in the Western Hemisphere of an African transported through the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
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