Africa was Fortune's eldest son. He was born September
16, 1772. His birthdate was entered into Waterbury's town
records, possibly by Preserved Porter, sometime after
1788. Porter was required by a 1788 law to record the
births of any children of his slaves, because those born
after 1784 were to be granted their freedom upon reaching
adulthood. Africa did not qualify for this gradual emancipation
and was considered a slave for life.
Africa lived with his family on a farm owned by Dr.
Porter east of the town center. He and his father Fortune
probably worked on Dr. Porter’s 75-acre farm, perhaps
operating the farm while Porter tended to his medical
practice. The farm produced rye, Indian corn, onions,
potatoes, apples, beef, hogs, cider, hay, oats and buckwheat.
He may also have been hired out to work for other Waterbury
residents on occasion.
Africa was given the responsibility of ringing the town’s
morning school bell for three months in 1790, when he
was 18. It is unlikely that he was ever allowed the opportunity
to study in that school.