Flight and Fight in the Caribbean
There have been escapes by enslaved persons for as long as there has been slavery. For example, in the 3rd century BCE in Ancient Greece, an enslaved man named Drimakos escaped from captivity with several others and established what would be considered a maroon settlement on the island of Chios which is part of the North-Eastern Aegean Islands. As would happen almost two thousand years later with other maroon communities in the Americas, Drimakos arrived at a modus vivendi with the Chians whereby they accepted the independence of his community and he, for his part, would limit his group’s predations against the citizens on the island. Again, as would happen thousands of years later in the Americas he also promised to only accept any future fugitives who had been unjustly treated by their masters.
In the Middle East, there was the ‘Zanj Revolt’, which began in September 869.For a period of fourteen years, the formerly enslaved Africans were able to combat the superior arms of the Abbasid government by waging guerrilla warfare against their opponents. These maroons became adept at raiding towns, villages and enemy camps (often at night), seizing weapons, horses, food and captives and freeing fellow enslaved Africans, and burning the rest to cinders to delay retaliation.
In the Caribbean, the maroons chose flight followed by fight. They usually did not go very far from the European settlements. Like their precursors thousands of years before in the 'Old World' they almost always remained within striking distance, constantly mounting raids on the plantations or mines.
Prisoners of War have a duty to try and escape from their captors. If we classify the enslaved Africans as Prisoners of War, which in essence they were, then they also had a duty to try and escape from their captors.
The enslaved Africans demonstrated an unquenchable thirst and an irrepressible desire for freedom. Escaping or even planning an escape required tremendous courage, determination, and fortitude. The dangers included being tracked by Black Miskito/Miskito Zambo trackers and being torn apart by Cuban “Bloodhounds” which were not actually bloodhounds but were attack dogs (Dogo Cubano) bred specifically to hunt Africans.
As The Mighty Sparrow sang with such feeling in the 1963 calypso "The Slave"
"I study night and day how to break away
Ah got to make a brilliant escape
But every time ah tink 'bout de whip an' dem dogs
Meh body does start to shake"