The Praying Nun by Michael Smorenburg
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Overview: A story in 2 parts, ‘now’ and ‘then’ — come along on a gripping saga of adventure, intrigue and discovery of an ancient shipwreck that has no identity; until 30 years pass and the Smithsonian fills in the missing pieces — then leap back two centuries to witness a sometimes disturbing tale of brutality, exhilarating and the triumph of human courage… The Praying Nun will leave you shocked, surprised and pondering human nature in all its forms. Mostly, it will inject elation into your day.
Part I – A *True* Story of Discovery and Excavation, 1985
In 1985 an uncharted shipwreck was discovered off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. Two divers, the author and his friend, salvage artifacts from the ocean floor and try to identify the ship’s identity and cargo. In 2015 the mystery was finally solved by the Smithsonian Museum of Washington. The ship was the São José de Africa, a slaver that ran aground in 1794 with 400 slaves aboard, half lost on that day, the other half salvaged and sold the next day to defray costs. At this time, the recovered artifacts reside in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the US, in 2027 they will be returned to the Iziko museum in Cape Town.
Part II – A Love Story of Terror and Tragedy, 1794
Naked and shackled, Chikunda, and his new wife Mkiwa are heaved aboard the slaver São José off the coast of Mozambique, bound for the slave markets of Brazil. Once below decks, down in the stinking holds with 400 other captives, Chikunda instinctively knows that it will all be over. When the Captain discovers that Chikunda and his wife are Christians, the couple are spared a horrific fate below decks, but this reprieve does not protect them from what fate has in store.
The story of Chikunda and Mkiwa, though fictional, is based on the best known facts about the ship and the slave trade in general as contained in records, news reports, and journals available at the maratime archives, through accounts reported by the Captain, crew and from others who witnessed the disaster and its aftermath.
Genre: Fiction Historical