Eighteen’s century, the time when Ottobah Cugoano lived, is the time of both the slave trade blossoming as well as the time when the movement to stop slave trade comes to its highlight. An antislavery movement had its rise starting 1688 by the meeting Quakers family held in Germantown in Philadelphia, where the question was first raised about moral rights of any Christian to enslave another human being…
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They were transported to Europe and America to labor on coffee, cocoa, cotton and sugar plantations, in rice fields, the construction industry or even to work simply as servants. Though slavery was practiced in some parts of Africa even before the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade, however there were millions of Africans transported to Europe or America, most of them being taken into slavery during wars or raids as well as kidnapped. It may be said of the Europeans, that they have made use of every insidious methods to procure slaves wherever they can, and in whatever manner they can lay hold of them, and that their forts and factories are the avowed dons of thieves for robbers, plunderers and depredators. (Cugoano 27) They were subject to cruelty, suffering, starvation and more. A great number of slaves were dying during their trip to Europe or America, then, when laboring, they were dying because of ill treatment, malnutrition and exhaustion. Cugoano became one of the first Afro-Britons who publicly fought against African slave trade and slavery. Ottobah Cugoano was born in 1757 in the city Agimaque which is on the Gold Coast Fante near Assinie. Presently, this is a country of Ghana. His name, which he probably received a week after he was born, shows his Alkan-speaking heritage. Quabna is an Alkan-day name for a male born on Tuesday. His father was a relative to Fante’s rulers and a friend of the king of Agimaque Ambro Accasa, so Cugoano visited king’s court frequently, and one can say, was raised there and became friends with many of king’s children. (Rucker 33-34) At the age of 13, when he was visiting his uncles, along with the other 20 children, he was kidnapped when playing in woods and fields. I was early snatched away from my native country with about eighteen to twenty more boys and girls, as we were playing in the fields. We lived but a few days journey from the coast where we were kidnapped, and as we were decoyed and drove along, we were soon conducted to a factory, and from thence, in the fashionable way of traffic, consigned to Grenada. (Cugoano 6) When they arrived to a factory, for several days he did not know what exactly was happening to him, as the children that were seized were told they came to the city to see the ruler, but then: As I was ordered out, the horrors I soon saw and felt, cannot be well described; I saw many of my miserable countrymen chain two and two; some head-cuffed, and some with their hands tied behind. We were conducted along by a guard…when the vessel arrived to conduct us away to the ship, it was a most horrible scene; there was nothing to be heard but rattling of chains, smacking of whips, and the groans and cries of our fellow men. Some would not stir from the ground, when they were lashed and beat in the most horrible manner. (9) That is what was happening to many black people that were taken into slavery on the coasts of Africa. They were brought to the large forts called the factories. Then, they were boarded the ship to travel across the Atlantic Ocean. The full cargo of slaves would hold 350-600 people on one sheep. There were some practices on the ships to lessen the death rates among slaves. Those were enforces “dancing” above deck (as an exercise) and force-feeding of those who tried to starve themselves. The
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