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The life of gustavus vassa a biography of olaudah equiano

Slavery in West Africa and how the experience differed from slavery in the Americas The African slave's voyage from Africa Bini to the Americas and England [3] The journey from slavery to freedom and parallel journey from heathenism to Christianity Institutional slavery can raise the master as above man as the slave is forced beneath, both corrupting the master with power and crippling the slave with the lack thereof Summary[ edit ] Preface Prior to Chapter 1, Equiano writes: To combat these accusations, Equiano includes a set of letters written by white people who "knew me when I first arrived in England, and could speak no language but that of Africa.

In this section of the book, Equiano includes this preface to avoid further discrediting. Other notable works with a "preface to blackness" include the poems of Phyllis Wheatley. Chapter 1 Equiano opens his Narrative by explaining the struggle that comes with writing a memoir. He is very passionate about the hardships that memoir writers go through. He explains that they often have to defend themselves from those who remain critical about the truth of their work. He apologizes to his readers in advance for not having the most exciting story, but hopes that it serves to be helpful to other slaves in his position.

He states, "I am neither a saint, a hero, nor a tyrant. He was born in the kingdom of Benin. Benin was a part of Guinea. The specific district that he represented was Eboe, which is in the same area as what is now Nigeria.

Olaudah Equiano

Within the district, Equiano was born in Essake, a small province, in 1745. He goes into detail concerning his district and the isolation of his province. Their system of marriage and law were strictly enforced. His father was an elder in the district, and he was in charge of punishing criminals and resolving issues of conflict within the society. Within the district, women were held to higher standards than men. Marriage was seen as extremely important.

All dancing as separated into four divisions of groups of people, and they all represented an important part of life and an important event in life. The kingdom was made up of many musicians, singers, poets, dancers, and artists. The people of the kingdom lived a simple life. Clothes and homes were very plain and clean. The only type of luxuries in their eyes were perfumes and on occasions alcohol. Women were in charge of creating clothing for the men and women to wear.

But, as far as occupation goes, agriculture was the primary occupation. The kingdom sat on rich soil, thus allowing for health food and abundant growth. Slaves were also present in the kingdom, but in Eboe, only slaves who were prisoners of war or convicted criminals were traded. Some hardships came with an unusual amount of locusts and nonstop random wars with other districts. The people of Eboe believed in one "Creator.

They believed that those who died transmigrated into spirits, the life of gustavus vassa a biography of olaudah equiano their friends and family who did not transmigrate protected them from evil spirits. They believed in circumcision.

Olaudah Equiano (c.1745 - 1797)

Equiano compared this practice of circumcision to that of the Jews. Equiano goes on to explain the customs of his people. Children were named after events or virtues of some sort. Olaudah meant fortune, but it also served as a symbol of command of speech and his demanding voice. Two of the main themes of the Eboe religion were cleanliness and decency. Touching of women during their menstrual cycle and the touching of dead bodies were seen as unclean.

As Equiano discusses his people, he explains the fear of poisons within the community. Snakes and plants contained poisons that were harmful to the Eboe people. He describes an instance where a snake once slithered through his legs without harming him. He considered himself extremely lucky.

  • The Black Messiah, originally published in Dutch;
  • Lovejoy goes on to say:

Like the Jews, not only did his people practice circumcision, but they also practiced sacrificing, burnt offerings, and purification. At the end of the first chapter, Equiano asserts that Africans were not inferior people.

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The Europeans saw them as inferior because they were ignorant of the European language, history, and customs. He explains that it is important to remember that the ancestors of the Europeans were once uncivilized and barbarians at one point or another. He states, "Understanding is not confined to feature or colour. The pair are forced to travel with their captors for a time, when one day, the two children are separated. Equiano becomes the slave-companion to the children of a wealthy chieftain.

He stays there for about a month, until he runs away after accidentally killing one of his master's chickens. Equiano hides in the shrubbery and woods surrounding his master's village, but after several days without food, steals away into his master's kitchen to eat. Exhausted, Equiano falls asleep in the kitchen and is discovered by another slave who takes Equiano to the master.

The master is forgiving and insists that Equiano shall not be harmed. Soon after, Equiano is sold to a group of travellers. One day, his sister appears with her master at the house and they share a joyous reunion; however, she and her company depart, and Equiano never sees his sister again.

Equiano is eventually sold to a wealthy widow and her young son. Equiano lives almost as an equal among them and is very happy until he is again taken away and forced to travel with "heathens" to the seacoast. He points out the "closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship" suffocates them; some slaves even preferred to drown, and one was saved but to be flogged later, as he had chosen to die rather that accept to be a slave.

At last they reach the island of Barbados, where Equiano the life of gustavus vassa a biography of olaudah equiano all the other slaves are separated and sold. The author mentions the impact of their selling away, as "on the signal given, as the beat of a drumthe buyers rush at once into the yard where they are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best. He is very surprised by the way they relate to each other, as they are even cruel between them, not only to the slaves.

However, as he meets more white people and learns about their culture he comes to the conclusion that the white men are not inherently evil but that institutional slavery has made them cruel and callous. He did his work by himself. One day, when he was in the kitchen, he saw one of the women slaves with an iron muzzle on, and that shocked him. As he continued looking around the house he saw a watch on the wall and a painting. He was paranoid by both of these objects because he thought they were spying for the Master.

This shows just how little he knew about the common technology of the time. On the plantation he was called Jacob, instead of his real name.

One day, a man, whose name is Michael Henry Pascal, came to the Master's house and wanted to purchase Equiano. He paid thirty to forty pounds for him and Equiano left to work on a ship.

He liked it a lot better on the ship because the other people aboard were nicer to him and he ate better than he did previously.

On the ship Equiano made a friend whose name was Richard Baker. They became very close. Richard died in 1759 and it was hard on Equiano. He has spent the majority of his time at sea. He could speak English decently, but he could perfectly understand everything that was being said to him.

He also started viewing the others on the ship as superiors to him instead of barbaric and scary. He wanted to be like them. Equiano went to London with his Master and was sent to serve for the Guerins. He liked it there and they provided him an education.

  1. Within the district, Equiano was born in Essake, a small province, in 1745. Although the circumstantial evidence is not equivalent to proof, anyone dealing with Equiano's life and art must consider it.
  2. The master is forgiving and insists that Equiano shall not be harmed. Equiano sold fruits, glass tumblers, and other items between Georgia and the Caribbean islands.
  3. But to have it off by five years, as Lovejoy contends, would place Equiano well into puberty at the age of 17, when he would have been far more likely to have had a say in, and later remembered, what was recorded. With the aid of Granville Sharp , Equiano tried to get Annis released before he was shipped from England, but was unsuccessful.

He got baptized with the help of Miss Guerins. After a while his Master got called back to sea, so Equiano had to leave school to work for his Master. They went to Gibraltar, which allowed him to get cheap fruit and tell the story of losing his sister.

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A person who lived in the area told him that he saw his sister and took him to her, but it ended up not being his sister. Equiano met Daniel Queen while working for his Master and he quickly became a big part of his life.

He taught him a variety of things like religion, education, and how to shave. Equiano viewed him almost like a father and tried to repay him with sugar or Tabaco whenever he could afford it. The ship left to go to London in December because they heard talk to peace and the end of the war.

King wanted to purchase him because he liked his character and how much of a hard worker he is. Other people offered King up to one hundred guineas for Equiano. King was good to Equiano and said he would put him in school and fit him for a clerk. King fed his slaves well and sometimes got criticized by others for it. King had Equiano do a new job on the ship, which is called gauging. Gauging is measuring the depth of the boat or a compartment of a boat.

He also put Equiano in charge of the Negro cargo on the ship. He recounts a specific event that happened in 1763. He and a companion were trying to sell limes and oranges that were in bags. Two white men came up to them and took the fruit away from them. They begged them for the bags back and explained that it was everything they owned, but the white men threatened to flog them if they continued begging. They walked away because they were scared, but after a while they went back to the house and asked for their stuff back again.