It’s one of the many striking images from Beyonce’s Lemonade visual album. The scene (from the Love Drought video) where she leads a procession of black women walking into the ocean as if they are about to drown themselves willingly.
Well did you know the video draws inspiration from a slave time story popularly known as the Igbo Landing. The story of igbos who were brought to America to be slaves but vowed to drown themselves rather than be slaves in a foreign land.
Here’s the full story for those that don’t know via Wikipedia:
“In May 1803 a shipload of captive West Africans, upon surviving the middle passage, were landed by U.S.-paid captors in Savannah by slave ship, to be auctioned off at one of the local slave markets. The ship’s enslaved passengers included a number of Igbo people from what is now Nigeria. The Igbo were known by planters and slavers of the American South for being fiercely independent and resistant to chattel slavery. The group of 75 Igbo slaves were bought by agents of John Couper and Thomas Spalding for forced labor on their plantations in St. Simons Island for $100 each.
The chained slaves were packed under the deck of a small vessel named the The Schooner York to be shipped to the island (other sources say the voyage took place aboard The Morovia). During this voyage the Igbo slaves rose up in rebellion, taking control of the ship and drowning their captors in the process causing the grounding of the Morovia in Dunbar Creek at the site now locally known as Ibo Landing.
According to the historical account, under the direction of a high Igbo chief, they all walked in unison into the creek singing in the Igbo language “The Water Spirit brought us, the Water Spirit will take us home”. They would rather accept the protection of Chukwu than end up in chains. Pretty remarkable story and in parts of South Carolina and Georgia, this story still holds true and the ground where the slaves drowned themselves is a historical landmark.
The entire video is set in occurs in a marshy, swampy landscape which is very reminiscent of what the shores of slave landing will be like, and in addition there’s a lot of random imagery that points to the slave trade, and landings. One of them is seeing Beyoncé physically bound in ropes, and trying to resist the pulling.
This is not the only African inspired theme in the album. Nigerian designer Amaka Osakwe is credited with designing some of the outfits Beyonce wore in some videos in the album. In addition, Beyonce featured famed novelist Chimamanda Adichie in her 2013 hit single, Flawless.