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Download An African's Life: The Life and Times of Olaudah Equiano, by James Walvin PDF

By James Walvin

The autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, a well known African in past due 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 hundreds 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 snapshot, and to review Equiano within the context of Atlantic slavery.

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Individual spoons were soon lost in the confusion of the slave decks and the Africans fed themselves by hand, all amidst the stable-like squalor of their confinement. Not surprisingly, the slaves soon succumbed to stomach ailments. The sick and the weak, unable to feed themselves properly, slipped further and further into a gloomy indifference (often despite force-feeding by the crew). The ghastly reality of what happened on the slave ships was no secret. Long before abolitionists began to publicize such evidence in the mid-iySos, tens of thousands of Europeans were privy to this grim information, notably of course the sailors, traders, merchants, planters and the rest whose livelihood was so intimately linked to the Atlantic slave trade.

Despite the swirling shot and splinters, Equiano escaped unscathed. It was a dangerous position; as Equiano and his gun mate ran the length of the ship they were always exposed to in-coming fire. In handling the powder (from rotten boxes) they also ran the risk of causing devastating accidents to their own ship. Pondering desperately which would be the least dangerous moment to dash for fresh powder, Equiano realized that such choices were pointless. 21 After much confusion, the French line broke, the British taking a number of prizes and the rest of the French fleet fleeing as best they could.

3 David Richardson, 'Liverpool and the English Slave Trade', in TransAtlantic Slave Trade: Against Human Dignity, ed. Anthony Tibbies (London, HMSO, 1994), pp. 71-3. 4 Malachy Postlewayt, The Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce (London, 1757), p. 25. , vol. I, p. 494. 6 Joseph Miller, Ways of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angola Slave Trade (London, 1988), pp. Journal of African History, 30 (1989), pp. 385-6. 7 Interesting Narrative, p. 53. 8 John Atkins, A Voyage to Guinea, Brasil and the West Indies (London, 1735), p.

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