Clifton beach is the epicenter of some really interesting and valuable history. Recently a ship wreck was discovered, but not any old conventional shipwreck, this time we can obtain some treasured information regarding slaves on ship wrecks. In fact, this may be the first time that such a project can be conducted.
São José Paquete Africa was a slave ship that ran aground on Clifton beach. In 1794 the Portuguese slave ship had imprisoned over 400 slaves and was on its route from Mozambique to Brazil where the slaves were to be used on the sugar plantations. When the ship ran aground between two rocks the crew survived, however over 200 imprisoned slaves drowned as the ship went under.
While SCUBA divers have been on the ship the past few weeks, actively removing artifacts and logging every details they encountered, the search for such a ship has been underway since as far back as 2005. The major breakthrough that lead to the discovery came from the Cape Archives Repository. There Jaco Boshoff found a record drawn up by the ship’s captain giving much more detail on what exactly happened on the day the ship sank. The record talks about 1500 iron bars being transported on the slave ship, these items proved to be the most valuable reference for the group that discovered the wreckage.
The artifacts are now being shipped off to the US where they will make part of the Smithsonian African-American museum. The artifacts have been handed to the museum on a long term loan. For quite some time the museum has been searching for a slave ship to tell the story of slave trade in America. The São José Paquete Africa proved to be the perfect vessel to tell just that story.