By James Walvin
The autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, a trendy African in overdue 18th-century Britain, is quoted, anthologized and interpreted in dozens of books and articles. greater than any unmarried modern, Equiano speaks for the destiny of thousands of Africans within the period of the transatlantic slave alternate. This research makes an attempt to create a rounded portrait of the guy at the back of the literary photo, and to check Equiano within the context of Atlantic slavery.
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Extra resources for An African's Life: The Life and Times of Olaudah Equiano, 1745-1797
3. 18 Interesting Narrative, p. 48. Africa Remembered 15 19 Paul Edwards, 'Master and Father in Equiano's Interesting Narrative', Slavery and Abolition, vol. n, no. 2 (1990). , p. 83. 21 The account of his enslavement is in Interesting Narrative, pp. 46-55. , p. 54. 23 This argument is developed in Chapter 10 below. 24 Interesting Narrative, p. 43. 2 SLAVE SHIPS AND LANDFALL Sometime around 1756 the young Equiano - confused, frightened and dispirited from months of travel and upheaval - caught sight of the British ship which would carry him across the Atlantic.
30 Equiano arrived, then, at the apogee of the Chesapeake's slave-based tobacco prosperity. When Equiano looked around his new North American home, a region dominated increasingly by local-born slaves, he saw few fellow Africans but he found 'not one soul who could talk to me'. He was in a slave community increasingly dominated by second- and third-generation slaves, many of whom were local and acculturated to the demands and institutions of local European life, most notably in the languages they spoke.
Casting aside his initial worries that white people might merely be evil spirits, Equiano had come to think of them 'as men superior to us; and therefore I had the stronger desire to resemble them; to imbibe their spirit, and imitate their manners'. Here was a young African in the process of reinventing himself; acquiring those qualities of refinement and cultivation which might make him acceptable to his new compatriots. ' The most important first step was the need to read and write. Literacy had become a critical element in the European definition of 'enlightenment' and 'civilization'.