King Court Tackey (Prince Klaas)
Hero of Antigua and Barbuda
King Court Tackey (Prince Klaas) can undoubtedly be considered Antigua’s most notable and indeed bravest hero. The planters called him Court, a slave name that he apparently abhorred. His African name seems to have been Kwaku Takyi. Present-day Antiguans, however, know him as Prince Klaas.
Having come to the island of Antigua from West Africa in 1704, at age 10, Klaas became the property of a prominent plantation owner by the name of Thomas Kerby. He evidently possessed considerable presence; Kerby raised him to the rank of “head slave” and brought him to live in the Antiguan capital, St. John’s.
Klaas was one of the masterminds behind an elaborate plot, hatched late in 1735, to overthrow white rule on Antigua. The conspiracy allegedly involved slaves on a number of large plantations, and was built around an audacious effort to destroy the island’s planters in a single spectacular explosion, and Prince Klaas himself would be enthroned as leader of a new black kingdom on the island. Unfortunately, their plot was discovered and they were executed.
In all, 132 were convicted of participating in it. Of this number, five, including Klaas, were broken on the wheel. six were gibbeted (hung in irons until they died of hunger and thirst) and 77 others were burned at the stake. In those days to even think of trying to take your fortune into your own hands was more than courageous.