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An African Narrative by Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano was a young 11-year-old boy who came from an Ibo tribe in West Africa, Nigeria. Equiano depicts that as soon as he was put under the decks, he was welcomed by a stench that his nostrils had never encountered. The stench affected him to the extent that he lost appetite of food. When the white men presented a meal to him, he always declined to take, and this made him to be flogged and beaten. He was afraid that the white men may beat him to death as they looked and acted in a “savage manner” (Equiano, 1995).
The masters were brutal and cruel both to the Africans and white men. Once, one white man flogged an African so mercilessly until he passed away, and later on tossed him over the decks. The author reveals an incident when three men jumped overboard, two of them drowned while the other one was saved. However, the survivor was whipped unmercifully for trying to prefer death to slavery. This made the author hate the white men even more.
In the end, Equiano was unhappy even though his life became a bit better: “plenty of rice and fat pork”. He saw only few of his African natives, but no one could talk to him (Equiano, 1995). All his companions were distributed to various parts, and this made him feel so lonely. He felt like he was the worst of all the other companions since they used talk to each other though he could not understand their language properly.
Since Equiano managed to write and even published this document, it means that he was totally different from the other slaves. This is evident from the first paragraph as he briefly discusses his past life. He says that his life was not parallel to the lives of the other slaves. He got a chance to learn how to read and write, and was able to buy his freedom. He was influenced by missionaries who agitated for the equality of all people; he later used his freedom and educational skills to work for the abolition of the slave trade.
Equiano, O. (1995). The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, ed. Vincent Carretta.