The narrative by Olaudah Equiano gives an interesting perspective of slavery both within and outside of Africa in the eighteenth century. From these writings we can gain insight into the religion and customs of an African culture. We can also see how developed the system of trade was within Africa, and worldwide by this time. Finally, we hear an insider's view on being enslaved, how slaves were treated in Africa, and what the treatment of African slaves was like at the hands of the Europeans.
Olaudah spends a good part of the narrative acquainting the reader with the customs of his people. He describes the importance of hygiene to his people. Their overall health and vigor was helped by their penchant for cleanliness, and it makes them seem more "advanced." This is an interesting development considering the problems that a lack of hygiene can lead to.
His description of a wedding also seems very modern, but the importance of dance in the festivities shows another facet of Olaudah's people. The dance defined the different groups within their village. First, and most important, were the married men, followed by married women, single men, and lastly unmarried women. The groups also used the dance to relate stories or tell events that were important to them. This practice probably also strengthened the bonds within the groups.
Olaudah also wrote about the division of chores within his village. The women were responsible for the spinning and weaving, and the men took care of the building. It is interesting to note the similarity of their dress, and the fact that both men and women joined in battle when the village was at war. They did not, however, sleep in the same ...
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...rall his treatment was very good; one master even carried him when he was too tired to walk!
In sharp contrast to that treatment was the treatment he describes at the hands of Europeans. In his own words, they treat him with "brutal cruelty." They seem to have a callous disregard for their captives, and treat them like vicious animals. From his description of the voyage, how the prisoners were stowed, and the way they were treated we gain proof that these Europeans felt the Africans were less than human.
Overall, the narrative by Olaudah Equiano is a great first-hand look at the lives of some of the millions of people who were transported to other countries. They became a commodity sought after as laborers by a people they had never seen. The narrative also shows the folly of the European belief that the Africans were savages and could be treated accordingly.
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