Diving into the past

Slave shipwreck in South Africa


Tamara Hardingham-Gill - CNN 



As he slipped through the kelp forest to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Kamau Sadiki's eyes hooked onto something resembling the item he and fellow divers had been searching for.

However, the water temperature was low at the site just off the coast of Cape Town, and visibility was poor. Veteran diver Sadiki recalls the surge pulling him back and forth as he attempted to get closer to his "first visual of some tangible artifact" of the ship he'd heard so much about.

"It was a piece of wood material that was lodged into the rocks," he tells CNN Travel. "I hesitated before approaching it, and then the surge just carried me straight into it.

" Sadiki became overcome with emotion when he grabbed hold of part of the wreckage of the Sao Jose-Paquete de Africa wreck, which sank off Cape Town while transporting over 500 enslaved Africans from Mozambique to Brazil in 1794.

It's thought that 212 of the captives, along with the crew, drowned in the incident. "It was like I could hear the voices," says Sadiki, who was part of the dive team who located the wreck in 2015.

"The screaming, the suffering, the terror, the pain and agony of all those individuals being shackled arm and leg, and then perishing in a wrecking event. "I knew then that I wanted to help tell their story and get those silent voices into the history books."


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South Africa shipwreck