The Iron Muzzle

Olaudah Equiano, in his autobiography, wrote about a device employed in the mid-1700s called the “Iron Muzzle.” Within its pages, Equiano explained that when persons being held as slaves were accused by their masters of insubordination, or of eating more than their allotment of food, they might expect to be fitted with an iron muzzle.

He cites a specific example of a first-hand experience where he saw the muzzle on a slave.

“I had seen a black woman slave as I came through the house, who was cooking the dinner, and the poor creature was cruelly loaded with various kinds of iron machines; she had one particularly on her head, which locked her mouth so fast that she could scarcely speak and could not eat or drink. I [was] much astonished and shocked at this contrivance, which I afterwards learned was called the iron muzzle.”

Another tale is told about Anastacia Escrava,. Her mother, Delminda, a member of the royal family of Galanga in Southern Nigeria, was brought to Brazil on a slave ship in 1740. While onboard, she was raped by her white owner, which resulted in the birth of a beautiful blue-eyed girl named Anastacia. In Brazil, the girl was heralded as a beauty, and grew into a beautiful woman. Her plantation owner’s son, Joaquin Antonio, was obsessed with her, but she refused his advances. So, like her mother before her, Anastacia was raped. In addition to this disgrace, she was subjected to wearing an iron muzzle for the rest of her life. The story concludes,

“She was forced to live with the mask, only removing it once a day to eat. She lived for some years and was subjected to several other inhumane treatments before the metal from the mask became poisonous, and she died of tetanus.”

So, let’s recap:

  1. When slaves refuse to follow their master’s orders or,
  2. When they gobble up too much of the earth’s resources,
  3. Angry, rich masters can force them to wear an iron muzzle
  4. Which, ironically, winds up being the tragic cause of their death.

Sound familiar?


circa 1740                                                     circa 2020

Masks OFF, America. We are free men and women created in the image of God. We are not slaves to fellow men. Do not consent to the tyranny of the iron muzzle. Faith Over Fear!