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Olaudah Equiano Essay

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Olaudah Equiano

The slave trade, yet horrific in it’s inhumanity, became an important aspect of the world’s economy during the eighteenth century. During a time when thousands of Africans were being traded for currency, Olaudah Equiano became one of countless children kidnapped and sold on the black market as a slave. Slavery existed centuries before the birth of Equiano (1745), but strengthened drastically due to an increasing demand for labor in the developing western hemisphere, especially in the Caribbean and Carolinas. Through illogical justification, slave trading became a powerful facet of commerce, regardless of its deliberate mistreatment of human beings by other human beings. Olaudah Equiano was able to overcome this intense
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Equiano’s luck soon shifted when he was once again kidnapped and sold as a slave, this time he would have to endure the notoriously dreadful journey across the sea to America. Knowing that this was a pivotal point in his life and that he would become a gudgeon to the harshness of slavery, Equiano attempted to prepare himself for what lay ahead. However, the sight of the inhumane acts he witnessed on the African coast, while being transported, were new to Equiano and instilled fear into his consciousness.
Equiano, on a slave ship towards the West Indies, was on the verge of everlasting bondage. “In this manner we continued to undergo more hardships than I can now relate, hardships which are inseparable from this accursed trade. Many a time we were near suffocation from the want of fresh air, which was often without for whole days together.” (57) The conditions for slaves on these transport ships was horrendous, as those in charge cared little for the well being of these Africans. Equiano was unaware of what was to come, and fear lingered in his memory of this unforgiving experience. He explains the process of the transaction, “We were not many days in the merchant’s custody, before we were sold after their usual manner, which was: On a signal given (as the beat of a drum), the buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best.” (58)
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