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History J3 - Essay Example

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The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, gives a first-hand account of the capture of Africans, their shipment across the Atlantic and their transformation into slaves in America. Equiano belongs to a noble family in present-day Nigeria and is captured and sold…
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History J3
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Download file to see previous pages uiano gives a vivid description of the Middle Passage which demonstrates the terror of the prisoners, the abject conditions on board and the attitude of the slavers to their cargo.
The captured African slaves are absolutely terrified on their passage. The main reason for this fear is the ignorance of the Africans, as this is their first encounter with Europeans. Equiano’s horror is “heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo” (Equiano, 1789).The fair complexion, long hair and alien language of the white men makes Equiano believe that they are “bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me” (Equiano, 1789). The large copper furnace and the dejected, fettered prisoners reinforce his fear of being sacrificed. Another factor which contributes to Equiano’s fear is the water: “not being used to the water, I naturally feared that element the first time I saw it” (Equiano, 1789). Most of the captured slaves are from interior Africa and have never seen the sea. The ship and its navigation seem magical to the Africans.
The conditions on board the slave ship are extremely miserable. The slaves are confined to the unventilated hold, where they are chained and packed tightly together. The initial cargo of slaves is supplemented by the additional slaves taken on at sea. This makes the hold “so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself” (Equiano, 1789). Equiano paints “a scene of horror almost inconceivable”: the heat, the toxic miasma of perspiration, the suffocating atmosphere, the increasing irritation of the chains, the groans of the dying, the shrieks of the women, the stench of humanity and the tubs of human excreta “into which the children often fell, and were almost suffocated”  (Equiano, 1789). The stink of the holds is beyond tolerance.The pestilential air makes the slaves ill and even causes fatalities. The rations are insufficient to satisfy the slaves’ appetite. It is a mark of the slavers’ spite that they ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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