A Pilgrimage to my Motherland

Robert Campbell, Jamaican explorer in Nigeria
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A pilgrimage to my motherland. An account of a journey among the Egbas and Yorubas of Central Africa, in 1859-60. By Robert Campbell ... of the Niger Valley exploring party.

By Robert Campbell. New York: T. Hamilton; Philadelphia, by the author, 1861.

In the 1850s, life was hard for free black Americans, and many were considering emigration to Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, or Africa. Debate was fierce. In 1854, the National Emigration Convention, held in Cleveland, Ohio, began to consider the African option proposed by Harvard graduate Martin Robison Delaney. He formed the Niger Valley Exploring Party, intending to establish a settlement in Abeokuta, Nigeria, to grow cotton for the British market using free labor, eventually driving slave-owning American cotton growers out of business. Robert Campbell, a Jamaican-born journalist and teacher of mixed-race parentage, was invited to join the expedition. Campbell was also a journalist with an eye for detail. His account of the expedition is valuable because it calls attention to this period of African American history. It contains a wealth of ethnographic information, and it describes how the African rulers he met respected Europeans and African Americans equally, as representatives of “civilized societies.”

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