Two Princes of Calabar

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The Two Princes of Calabar Randy Spark's The Two Princes of Calabar is an engaging read demonstrating literal and scholastic efficiency. Sparks argues broadly that “Atlantic Creoles” are the result of eighteen-century globalization, and narrowly focuses on two African brothers, Ephraim Robin John and Ancona Robin-Robin John from Calabar. The Robin Johns were unique because at first they were slaves and then they were slave traders, functioning in American and European cultures. The Robin Johns were the princes of the Efik tribe. The Efiks developed a complex culture resembling the beginnings of English consumerism. They would trade slaves for copper and manufactured goods. Power became associated with wealth, and the acquisition of wealth became the primary focus of attaining and maintaining power. Not surprisingly, as power was vested in wealth, trade wars developed. The trade wars between Old Calabar and New Calabar exemplified the best and the worst characteristics of capitalism. In 1767, the Efiks of New Town allied with the English to ambush the Efiks Of Old Town, turning the trade competition into a violent clash. The result of this was ambush was the kidnapping of the two Robin John brothers. The Robin Johns were able to apply their skills and knowledge of their English language, culture and legal system to not only survive the dreaded middle passage but to exploit the freshly decided 1772 Somerset case in order to obtain their freedom. Sparks writes, “ Here we have the remarkable case of African slaves arguing to the Lord Chief Justice of England that their enslavement violated the rules governing the Efik trade and English law as well” (101). Sparks is clearly arguing that the European-Afican-American exchange was so accepted and so complete that Efik law was successfully argued in
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