Backroads to 'Bethlehem'

Odysseys of the Maroon Warrior, in the Shadows of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

by William Smither



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 2/28/2018

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 452
ISBN : 9781458221612
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 452
ISBN : 9781458221605

About the Book

It is 1693, during the waning days of a militaristic, fugitive slave village in northeastern Brazil and the widening landscape of Maroon Wars in Jamaica. There exists a patchwork of shared morality and beliefs among the myriad mix of West African tribes and the indigenous peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.


In Colonial Brazil, the beliefs of various Taino Indian and West African blend, influenced by nearby Jesuit Orders such as the St. Raphael Mission. This contributes to the Maroon culture’s interpretations of burial customs and visitations of “shadow people” or spiritual presences. Later, in Jamaica, as with ancient West African and Ashanti cultures, the silk cotton tree plays an important role in the village of Akrafena and the Casa Cadiz Plantation. From the Nine Night ceremony and beliefs in survival after death to roaming spirits of the dead, the tree—also called the Spirit Tree, God Tree, and Devil Tree—emits evil spells as well as spiritual inspiration for prevailing forces that drive the various Maroon characters and conflict.


Inspired by actual events, this novel offers a portrait of sustained and conscionable slave rebellion in Colonial Brazil and Jamaica at the cultural crossroads of myth and reality.

About the Author

William “Duke” Smither, is a U.S. Navy Veteran (Vietnam Era, Cuban Blockade, Cuban Missile Crisis), native of Frankfort, KY, resident of Richmond, VA and retired Sr. Investigator (Corporate Security) for Dominion Energy. As a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), majoring in Journalism, he was a sports reporter for VCU’s newspaper and sports & feature writer for the Richmond Afro-American Newspaper. With the help of his devoted wife, Sharon, in raising three kids, working rotating shifts, and attending evening college, he later graduated with a B.S. Degree in Organizational Management from St. Paul’s College (Lawrenceville, VA), returning to VCU for postgraduate studies in Criminal Justice Administration. Independent studies in African and African-American History led to “Backstreet Djeli’s Blog,” the history-related journal he created at, and duties as contributing writer for “Blackpast.Org,” the web-based reference center for African-American History, at In retirement, this active grandfather of six became heavily involved in faith-based community theater productions as an actor, playwright and director for plays within the scope of Afrocentric perspectives and socio-political commentary, as well as the passionate storytelling monologues he often calls the “…’Missing Pages’ from our classroom history books, within the unique stories, legacies and contributions of our ancestors.”