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OpenLearn Live: 14th April 2016

Updated Wednesday 13th April 2016

The largest revolt by the enslaved in Barbadian history. Then more free learning across the day.

What is free learning all about? It's about understanding your world a little better - and OpenLearn Live can show you how. This page will be updated across the day.

Yesterday, we heard how Facebook want to control everything, explored the Northern Lights and how comments might be fixed

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Today's posts

Chrome peels off old operating systems

This is one part tech story, one part service announcement - Google is about to drop support for Chrome running on older versions of Windows and OS X:

Google Chrome version 50 was released to the browser's stable channel yesterday, and in addition to a handful of new features and security fixes, the update also ends support for a wide range of operating systems that have been supported since Chrome launched on those platforms. Windows XP, Windows Vista, OS X 10.6, OS X 10.7, and OS X 10.8 are no longer supported.

Read at Arstechnica: Chrome 50 ends support

Do battle fully-armed in the online environment: Try our free course Succeeding in a digital world

What animal self-awareness doesn't look like

If you're a regular reader of OpenLearn Live, you'll know we've been focusing on animal self-awareness - a few editions back, we discovered manta rays could recognise themselves in mirrors. But, you may be wondering, what does it look like when a creature fails to realise it is looking at a reflection of itself?

Something like that, then.

Previously: Manta Rays recognise themselves in mirrors

VR surgery

If you're reading this as we type it, that's kind of creepy as it means you're reading over our shoulder. If you're reading it shortly after, though, that means its around 1pm UK time, and the first ever virtual reality surgery is being broadcast. You can find out how to watch (via Android or iOS) at Wired's website.

A week in April: Bussa's Rebellion

This week, we're travelling through time to explore an event which happened on the same date in the past. Yesterday, we heard the strange story of Grey Owl, a Sussex schoolboy who reinvented himself as a First Nations envrionmentalist. Today, we're heading back to April 14th, 1816, and the start of Bussa's Rebellion.

Sketch of a flag taken from rebels against slavery in Barbados, after the uprising known as Bussa's Rebellion. Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: National Archive - No copyright restrictions

So, what was Bussa's Rebellion? In the early years of the 19th Century, the abolitionist movement was growing in the United Kingdom - in 1807, government had passed the Slave Trade Act which oulawed the trading of slaves across the British Empire. But without abolishing slavery itself.

Aware of support for the cause of freedom in the UK, plans were laid amongst slaves in Barbados for a controlled, planned rebellion against those who would presume to own them. More crucially, the failure of an Imperial Registry Bill to pass the local House of Assembly in November 2015 emboldened the rebels - they saw the government's decision to not enforce a list of the enslaved as a step towards emancipation. They perceived an open door. And the rebellion would be a push on that door.

Bussa's Rebellion was incredibly well-planned - it was organised by the head workmen on plantations across the island (crucially, those who held the most trusted positions). And at the apex of the organisation was Bussa.

Not much is known about Bussa - he had been captured in Western Africa and sold to a plantation in Barbados. In fact, so little is known about him that it's possible he was Busso or Bussoe rather than Bussa. He was, it's believed, a ranger on Bayley's Plantation - a role which allowed him to move around the area without raising suspicions. He was the only African slave to have achieved such status in the nation - the vast majority of the enslaved were Creole.

And it's known that he died on April 14th, 1816.

Amongst the others involved was Nanny Grigg, a domestic servant at Simmon's Plantation; and three men Cain Davis, Roach, and Richard Sarjeant, who were free and literate. The latter trio were adept propagandists and spread details of the plans.

The planning was completed on Good Friday - April 12th; the rebellion itself started on Easter Sunday. April 14th, 1816.

Bussa led a force of around 400 men and women, rising upon Bayley's Plantation. Ineviably, the troops were sent in to crush, and crush they did. Bussa died in the battle that day; his supporters fought on, but by the 16th the rebeliion had been defeated.

Martial law was imposed on the island - it would remain in place until July; 111 enslaved workers and four free people of mixed heritage were executed for their part in the events.

The rebellion might have been quelled, but the force behind it hadn't been. Writing in June 1816, a white Barbadian observed:

The disposition of the enslaved persons in general is very bad. They are sullen and sulky and seem to cherish feelings of deep revenge. We hold the West Indies by a very precarious tenure – that of military strength only. I would not give a year's purchase for any island we now have. 

Slavery would eventually be outlawed on the island. And Bussa? Bussa lives on as a national hero in Barbados.

See more about slavery from OpenLearn

Discover how to study history with The Open University





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