The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olandah Equiano provides a view of Africa and the rest of the world from the perspective of either an African taken into slavery early in his life or a slave of African descent born in the British colonies. Olandah Equiano’s narrative reveals more about the African Diaspora than it does African history itself, particularly with his birthplace called into question. If he was born in Africa as he claims, Equiano’s narrative provides a primary source for the history of the slave trade in Africa and Nigerian history. If he was born in South Carolina, his narrative provides a secondary source for these areas. In either case, Equiano’s narrative accurately reveals the horrors of the Atlantic Slave
For more than three and a half centuries, the forcible bondage of at least twelve million men, women, and children from their African homelands to the Americas forever changed the face and character of the western hemisphere. The slave trade was brutal and horrific, and the enslavement of Africans was cruel, exploitative, and dehumanizing. The trade represented one of the longest and most sustained assaults on the life, integrity, and dignity of human beings in world history.
Within the 17th century time period, the many slaves that were captured and forced to succumb to the enduring and arduous labor in plantations, often times integrated into European culture. However, Olaudah Equiano not only adopted European lifestyles, but fully embraced himself in this new found culture, essentially abandoning his values that he inherited from his African origin. Equiano’s newly found passion for the European religion allowed Equiano to become a different man, one who accomplished the almost impossible for a slave, freedom. His motivation, God, allowed himself to strive to accomplish more with his life, but at what cost? Consequently, at times it seemed as if religion blinded Equiano from seeking justice for his fellow slaves. Although an effort was implemented, Equiano still failed to convince the Queen of abolishing the slave trade. Ultimately, Equiano’s journey through cultural assimilation lead him to overpower and drown out his roots and at times showed his hypocrisy, when partaking in the commerce of the slave trade.
Olaudah Equiano’s “From the Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano” is written with the intent of ending the slave trade and aiding the abolitionists’ movement. His narrative tells his personal story of kidnapping, being sold into slavery and his experience in the middle passage. According to this account Olaudah Equiano grew up in Africa with a large family. He was captured and sold into slavery at age eleven. As an adult he became an opposing voice to slavery. This autobiography was published in Britain, with the help of abolitionists. This gives a purpose to Equiano’s writing and the purpose is shown throughout the text as Equiano tries to expose the evil of the slave trade.
The author, Olaudah Equiano, was born in African Providence of Eboe. Eboe was a small providence of the Kingdom of Benin. Up until 1756, Equiano had never encountered a white individual. In 1756 at the age of 11, Olaudah Equiano and his sister were kidnapped and taken to serve as slaves within Africa. After serving many years as a slave in Africa, he traveled across the continent to the African coast. He was packed into a large vessel with hundreds of other slaves and here his life changing journey out of Africa began.
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, is a personal autobiography of himself, Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, documenting the hardships of slavery throughout his lifetime. Equiano writes one of the best primary sources from a slave’s perspective and master’s perspective during slavery. Equiano does not hold back on the horrors of what traveling as a slave from West Indies to North America was really like. Olaudah Equiano shares his heart wrenching journey through the brutality of slavery experienced at such young age to him mastering economics and being able to free himself from slavery. Freedom and salvation are reoccurring parallel themes throughout this autobiography. Although Equiano’s story has been questioned
It may well be asked why Native Americans, who numbered in the millions in the New World, were not subject to enslavement. The fact is that on occasion they were forced to work on plantations, although this seemed to happen most often after a skirmish or a battle between settlers and Indians (Jordan, 1968). However, there were fundamental reasons why Native Americans were treated differently than Africans.
First, I will look at the enslavement of Africans in the New World. During this period women of African descent were raped and abused. They were deemed as sexual beings and
specified number of natives to convert them in the Christian faith which was a ruse for slavery. In reality, natives were often brutally used for plantation and mining labor but proving ineffective, African slaves were implemented.
When Equiano was eleven he was kidnapped along with his sister and sold to slave traders in the beautiful Island of Barbados. Equiano was of royal African blood and born to the chief Ibo of the Benin nation, but spent majority of his time with his mother. Equiano is the youngest son of seven children. Equiano uses his narrative to paint a descriptive eyewitness account of slavery in the American colonies and in the Caribbean during that time.
The enslavement of Africans was a crime against humanity is the first proposition. The United States government has never acknowledged or taken responsibility for its role in the enslavement of Africans and the promotion of white supremacy. The mass kidnap and enslavement of Africans was the most wicked criminal enterprise in recorded human history. No compensation was ever paid by any of the perpetrators to any of the sufferers. The consequences of the crime continue to be massive, both in terms of the enrichment of the descendants of the perpetrators, and in terms of the impoverishment of the descendants of Africa.
The Americans justified enslaving Africans in several ways. The Americans thought less of them; that they weren’t even human but personal property to do with as they pleased. These views all came in to account due to their skin color being darker. The American’s thought they were evil since they were so dark complected. That they were stupid and couldn’t make their own way in the world. They would make them work long hours in horrible conditions such as out in field all day in the hot sun without breaks.
From the 17th century until the 19th century, almost twelve million Africans were brought to the New World against their will to perform back-breaking labour under terrible conditions. The rationalizations and defences given for slavery and the slave trade were absurd and self-serving. Slavery was a truly barbaric, and those who think that they can control what another group of people eat, where they sleep, whether they are to live or die, or even whether they are to be bought or sold, are acting on a totally inhumane level.
get their work done. The solution they found was to import slaves from Africa to replace the
The changes in African life during the slave trade era form an important element in the economic and technological development of Africa. Although the Atlantic slave trade had a negative effect on both the economy and technology, it is important to understand that slavery was not a new concept to Africa. In fact, internal slavery existed in Africa for many years. Slaves included war captives, the kidnapped, adulterers, and other criminals and outcasts. However, the number of persons held in slavery in Africa, was very small, since no economic or social system had developed for exploiting them (Manning 97). The new system-Atlantic slave trade-became quite different from the early African slavery. The