The Value of Yams
The history of yams spanning from their origin in West Africa to the provision grounds of the Caribbean offers readers a look into a root vegetable that allows people to trace their cultural roots to a time before slavery and the African Diaspora. Yams provided much needed nourishment to forced to take the perilous journey of the middle passage and became a ground provision that nourished many of those who were enslaved. Yams have physically kept people alive, as well as symbolically kept the voices of slaves alive in colonial writing. Whenever yams are mentioned in primary sources and works written by colonists visiting the Caribbean, we as readers can read between the lines of the text and understand that an enslaved person’s story is attached to that root vegetable. It is our responsibility to dig deeper and look past the surface level of the text to try to recover the silenced voices and stories of people who were enslaved. Each mention of yam in historical texts has the ability to teach about someone who is nameless, faceless, but nevertheless, someone with an important story to tell.