"A forked branch of a tree, four or five feet long, used by slave-hunters in Africa to prevent the slaves they had captured or purchased from running away when on the march from the interior to the coast. The forked part was secured on the neck of the slave by lashings passing from the end of one prong to the end of the other, so that the heavy stick hung down nearly to the ground, or (as was usually the case) was connected with the fork on the neck of another slave." —Whitney, 1889
In this illustration, the slave sits on the ground with the slave fork out in front of him. He is in an enclosure with a thatched roof.
William Dwight Whitney, PhD, LLD The Century Dictionary: An Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language (New York, NY: The Century Co., 1895) 5687