Ibrahima Seck, a professor of history at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, whose work focuses on Louisiana, will present his new book, Bouki Fait Gombo: A History of the Slave Community of Habitation Haydel (Whitney Plantation) Louisiana, 1750-1860, with a reading at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at Octavia Books (513 Octavia St.).
Bouki Fait Gombo, published by UNO Press, centers the narrative of the Whitney Plantation around the slaves who built and inhabited the still-standing Creole buildings, telling the story of their forced migration, work, and family life. This thorough examination of the Whitney’s evolution details the precise routes slaves crossed to arrive at the plantation’s doors and includes records of the men, women, and children who were bound to the Whitney over the years. Although Bouki Fait does not shy away from depicting the daily brutalities slaves faced, at the book’s heart are the robust culinary and musical cultures that arose from their shared sense of community and homesickness.
This year, the Whitney Plantation opens its doors to the public for the first time in its 264-year history, as a Site of Memory dedicated to a fuller understanding of the facts of slavery. Through museum exhibits, slave narratives, memorial artwork, and the restored buildings in which the slaves lived and worked, Whitney Plantation visitors will be immersed in the world of an 1830’s sugar plantation and the world of the people whose labor made it one of the most successful in Louisiana.
Seck is the academic director of the Whitney Heritage Plantation Museum of Slavery, the only museum in the country to focus on slavery, located between Wallace and Edgard, Louisiana.
This event is free and open to the public.