“the Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano”

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Andrew Lin
GHIST102
“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano”
From Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography published in 1776, historians are able to understand the significant difference between how the business of slavery was conducted between Europeans and Africans. Throughout Equiano’s journey, he recalled how the European and African slave traders and owners differed in the treatment of slaves. Although both Africans and Europeans viewed slavery as a business and traded slaves as property, the European’s treatment of slaves was much more horrific and inhumane. Thus, from his personal accounts traveling throughout parts of Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean, he was able to write from his perspective as a slave which provides historians an accurate firsthand account of the slave trade.

From Equiano’s earliest account of childhood in the African region of Nigeria, slavery was a common practice amongst Africans in the region. He noted that slaves “were only prisoners of war, or such among us had been convicted of…crimes, which we esteemed heinous.” (Equiano, p701.) So from Equiano’s account, slavery amongst Africans was not for the purpose of profit and exploitation but rather out of necessity, custom and to assist slave owners. He even commented on that after he was abducted into the slave trade in Africa, he found his way into a chieftain and claimed that “they all used me extremely well, and did all they could to comfort me.” (Equiano,p701-702.) Although the Africans used the practice of slavery as part of their common commerce from Equiano’s account of how he was traded numerous times, each African master throughout his journey treated him “ethically.” We can even construe that African slave owner’s assimilated their slaves as part of the family from Equiano who considered one of his master’s wife “as something like a mother.” (Equiano,p701) We can also see how although slaves were still considered as property, the African slavers treated...
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