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SECRETS OF THE DEAD: Slave Ship Mutiny

Airs Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: A reenactment scene of slaves on a ship from "Slave Ship Mutiny."

When the Meermin set sail from Madagascar for South Africa on a hot summer’s day in 1766, the Dutch crew had no idea they were about to make history. The ship was filled to capacity with human cargo, slaves bound for hard labor building the Dutch West India Company’s colony at Cape Town.

Image Gallery

View archival images, stills from reenactments, and images of individuals featured in "Slave Ship Mutiny."

Archival image of the slave trade depicting East African slaves taken aboard HMS Daphne.
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Above: Archival image of the slave trade depicting East African slaves taken aboard HMS Daphne.

But the Meermin with its crew and cargo would never make it to Cape Town. Instead, in a dramatic altercation, the slaves mutinied and managed to overpower the Dutch crew, ordering the ship be sailed back to Madagascar and freedom. But the crew of experience sailors deceived the slaves and turned the boat around each evening to make for Cape Town. And so the circumstances for a dramatic climax – and shipwreck – were laid when the ship and its desperate passengers finally spied land.

"Slave Ship Mutiny" tracks the efforts of archaeologists, historians and slave descendants to discover the full story of this dramatic historical event. They want to learn what happened on the Meermin, how the slaves were able to overpower their captors, and why the ship ended up wrecked on a wild, windswept beach 200 miles east of Cape Town.

SECRETS OF THE DEAD is on Facebook.

Video

Preview: Secrets Of The Dead: Slave Ship Mutiny

Above: The slave ship Meermin set sail from Madagascar for South Africa in 1766, but the ship would never make it to Cape Town, the slaves mutinied and managed to overpower the Dutch crew, ordering the ship be sailed back to Madagascar and freedom. "Secrets Of The Dead: Slave Ship Mutiny" premieres nationally Wednesday, November 10, 2010.