“…And after ya hang me, kiss mah ass,” are the final words of the slave Cicero before he his hanged. Honestly, I don’t know why that iconic line, from the movie Mandingo, isn’t quoted more often. It is powerful. Succinct. And certainly, unequivocal in meaning.


Mandingo, and other movies of the 1970s, which focused on the black experience in America, were regarded as part of “blaxploitation” era in movie making. Blaxploitation was coined by critics to reflect what was seen as the exploitation of black people, especially with regard to stereotyped roles, in films. But in the 1970s, as blacks crowded movie theatres to see the stories of their past and present, captured on the big screen, for the first time, there were those heavily criticising these films as not being representative of the black experience.

While granted, significant literary license was taken, in terms of dialogue, especially in movies depicting the scourge of slavery, they were not science fiction fantasy. Negro slavery happened. These films, far from being exploitive, were and still are representative of an historical truth, which many today would like to forget.


Not so strangely enough, in Jamaica, in 1824, several slaves were hanged, whipped, sold off, transported to other slave colonies after a failed insurrection. How fictional cinematography in 1975, mirrored the savagery of real life in 1824, was that these slaves were betrayed by one of their own. Like Cicero in the 1975 movie, Jamaican slaves Henry and George were defiant to the very end. They chose to jump, rather wait to be pushed.

In 1824, in Jamaica, negro slave, Obeah Jack talked. He betrayed his fellow slaves in their bid for freedom. For his troubles, Obeah Jack, was made to put the noose around the necks of the fellow slaves he betrayed.

The slaveowners waited until after Obeah Jack was made to help hang the other slaves, to also pronounce him guilty. The sentence for Obeah Jack, the slave who talked on the others, was death by hanging.

No Surrender scene from the 1975 movie MANDINGO

In the movie, Cicero, a runaway slave (played by American actor Ji-Tu Cumbuka) is caught by his slave master, with the help of another slave Mede (played by boxer Ken Norton). While Cicero is being tied to a chair, noose put around his neck, a large crowd stands waiting to watch the hanging. Cicero speaks first to Mede, who he considers a traitor to his race because Mede helped to catch him, thus delivering Cicero to his fate.

Cicero tells the crowd of slaveowners waiting to see him hang…


Epic Scene ‘No Surrender’ from 1975 slavery movie MANDINGO – YouTube Video

Art Imitates The Tragedy of Real Life

1824 Buff Bay, Jamaica – Defiant Slaves Hanged For Insurrection

Jamaican slaves Henry Oliver, and man known only as George, died defiant to the very end. In fact, they didn’t wait for executioner to push them. They jumped. George they say spoke his peace to the spectators. Then, he held his head high to so show his bravery and bold countenance. Then, with all his might, George jumped. The force of the fall was so powerful that the platform shook.

For Henry Oliver, showed the same strength of courage in the face of certain death. In Oliver’s case, the so called “pious” Rector of the local church, no doubt a cowardly, snivelling bootlicker, did not go the goal to offer solace to the condemned slave on the day of the hanging or in the days before.

Execution and Trial of Rebel Negroes, Kingston, Feb. 14


“Henry Oliver was executed, pursuant to the second warrant on Friday last; but our pious Rector did not attend the prisoner on the day of its execution, nor for some days previous. He died a hardened sinner, confessing nothing to the last. Even on the gallows he did not wait the drop, but slid himself off, apparently in a great hurry to meet his fate.

Of the four condemned by the last Special Slave Court to death, the sentence of three has been commuted to transportation; and George, of Silver Hill, only to be executed on Friday next.

Samedi and George Taylor, who were sentenced by the same Court to transportation, have been pied and by his Grace the Governor.

Obeah Jack knowledges that he had seen 24 muskets brought up to Balcarras at two distinct periods, on the back of the mule, in Spanish bags, by Henry Oliver; but as he yet he will not discover where they are hid, though it is generally believed he knows where they actually are.”

Henry Oliver was very obstinate during the whole of his confinement. On the day of the execution he declared he was then as well prepared to die as he ever should be.—-

He expressed a wish to see his overseer, Mr Learmond, or his wife—- neither were by. It was proposed to him to mention what he had to say that it might be related to them, but he declined to do so. The militia appeared at the Court house according to order, and that the hour of execution fell into line.

A guard was sent to the goal. They escorted Oliver out of it, and attended him to the scaffold; the rest of the militia would formed around the gallows. Oliver mounted the scaffold, assisted by Obeah Jack. He was then bound above elbows (which he desired should be done tightly). The rope was fixed around his neck by Jack.

Oliver desired him, rather impatiently, to be expeditious, and the moment the rope was fastened on the hook, he threw himself backwards with the sort of frenzy, the drop immediately fell, and he remained suspended by the rope; he breathed very hard for a few minutes, but the vital spark soon became extinct. Only one remarkable convulsions was observed.

(The LONDON GAZETTE, Saturday April 24, 1824)


“The negro George, belonging to Lamothe, was executed on the 13th instant. Though repeatedly pressed to make a confession, he refused to do so, denying that he had any knowledge of the conspiracy. His greatest offence he said, had been running away. Previous to quitting his cell, he took his last leave of his mother, sister, and two of his nieces, when all were much affected.

He was conducted to the gallows by the Maroons, no Militia having appeared on duty.

While on the platform, he spoke a few sentences to the spectators around, and one in particular was remarkable; holding up his head boldly, and advancing his chest, he desired all to look on his countenance, and to see whether he appeared to be a bad negro.

Immediately after he sprung off the platform, and the fall was so violent that he met his death instantly.

His carriage was manly and intrepid.”

(The LONDON GAZETTE, Saturday April 24, 1824)