10 November 2011
Faith and Fate: Olaudah Equiano and His Relationship with God
What is worse than forcing a man away from his homeland, his family and friends, and stripping him of the most natural right to all humankind, his freedom? Perhaps nobody has experienced anything as frightening and sorrowful as those slaves who were brought to the West Indies and the Americas during the eighteenth century. Olaudah Equiano, a native African who was kidnapped from his African tribe and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to be enslaved, shares his story with us in his autobiography “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: The Second Edition.” Throughout Equiano’s voyages, he experiences many hardships and life-threatening situations. His introduction to Christianity, along with his desperation to learn more about the European customs and traditions, strengthens Equiano’s relationship with God and leads him to strongly believe in a divine providence, or fate, which helps him endure the struggles he faces throughout his enslavement and leads to his conversion of Christianity.
Before going into detail about his enslavement, Equiano explains how his recollection of his childhood in the African village named Igbo is not a strong memory. He does, however, explain that the native Africans believed in “one Creator of all things, and that he lives in the sun, and is girted round with a belt that he may never eat or drink.” (51) This at least resembles a little similarity with Christianity in the monotheistic belief of one God who created all things. Soon after he and his sister were kidnapped and taken away from their family, they were further separated from each other which brought great grief upon them. Moreover, Equiano was boarded onto a slave ship. Realizing that he would never return to his native land, he “now wished for the last friend, death, to retrieve” him. (65)