By James Walvin
The autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, a well-liked African in past due 18th-century Britain, is quoted, anthologized and interpreted in dozens of books and articles. greater than any unmarried modern, Equiano speaks for the destiny of thousands of Africans within the period of the transatlantic slave alternate. This examine makes an attempt to create a rounded portrait of the fellow at the back of the literary snapshot, and to review Equiano within the context of Atlantic slavery.
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Extra info for African's Life, 1745-1797 (The Black Atlantic Series)
In this violent environment, where human and physical outrages of the most appalling kind were the stuff of everyday shipboard life, slaves were as fearful as they were sick and depressed. The more Equiano saw of the crew's violence, the more afraid he grew of them. 15 Of course, writing in 1789, Equiano (like other abolitionists) was keen to highlight such violence, knowing it would outrage his readership. When the slave captain felt he had enough slaves packed below, or when he had lingered long enough (balancing risks to his crew versus possible future slave purchases), the ship headed into the Atlantic, hoping for a speedy, trouble-free passage.
For the survivors of the Atlantic crossing, landfall must have seemed a mixed blessing. The terrors of the last few weeks were quickly replaced by new alarms and worries. Equiano's ship made landfall in Barbados, the most easterly of the Caribbean islands. When the crew first caught sight of the island, 'the whites on board gave a great shout and made many signs of joy to us'. We can only guess what went through the Africans' minds: relief that the horrors of the crossing were coming to an end, apprehension about the future?
All bonds of friendship, camaraderie and family were destroyed in the confused and violent lunges of the buyers. ' In Africa, on the African coast, at landfall and later throughout the slave colonies (especially in the USA in the nineteenth century) such family break-ups remain among the most distressing of slave stories. From one slave society to another, contemporary accounts echo with the grief of separated loved ones; leaving for different Barbados plantations in Equiano's presence in 1756 or for the US frontier a century later.
African's Life, 1745-1797 (The Black Atlantic Series) by James Walvin