A Human Instead Of a Salve
The Atlantic slave trade has both moments of pride and shame, but unless people fully understand the Africans’ experience of the past people will not realize how important the liberties of the present they value. Though reading Olaudah Equiano’s biography, people can understand Europeans need to value the Africans as humans instead of chattel. In the book, Olaudah Equiano developed himself from his hometown Eboe, his voyage at sea, his conversion to Christianity, and his Abolitionist movement. He offered people a good opportunity to understand how a no identify African salve transform to black European.
The sadness of Olaudah Equiano began while he and his sister were kidnapped from their homes and soon separated from each other. However, as an African, he could find similar feature easily. In Equiano’s narrative, he was sold several times and traveled to closer the sea between his fellow Hebrew. During this travel, he might own his identity because his statement that “the language of these people resembled ours so nearly, that we understood each other perfectly. They had also the very same customs as we.”(p.29) He also claimed that the Africans degenerated into license and immorality due to get in touch with the whites. For example, Olaudah Equiano points that the people who lived near coast did not respect their bodies and enjoyed scarring themselves. (P.29-30) However, it’s just the beginning of the nightmare. Though selling by his tribe masters, Olaudah Equiano was shipped to the West Indies by a slave sailboat. When people read his experience in the Middle Passage, people can feel Olaudah Equiano’s grief, despair, and fear though his vivid memories description. In his accounts, the whites were wasteful and cruel; the ship cabin was stuffy and dirty. He took a hell ship which fill with terror, anguish and death (P.30-32). Although his identity was erased by the “white evil spirits”, he would remember his own race and culture. He wanted to cherish his cleanliness and rectitude forever.
As an African salve, Olaudah Equiano had no identity which means he could not control his freedom, protect his property and even keep his original name. In his memories, he got several names, such as Michael, Jacob and Gustavus Vassa, without his agreement. Even when he argued about his name, he was beaten and scolded (p.35-37). Then, he showed his value at his fighting seven years’ war at sea which gave him chances to onboard various vessels and gain the approval of others. For example, he got his white friend Dick who is a “mind superior to prejudice”. He also understood for the first time who is God and began to go to church. The moment “snowing” and “the great man in heavens, called God” would be his precious memory (p.39). Actually, Olaudah Equiano’s sailing experience was very important for him to transform. During this voyage, he gradually accustomed to his slavery and get in touch European knowledge which helped him to transform. It seemed that Olaudah Equiano identify with European culture and religion.
Since Olaudah Equiano had accustomed to his slave situation, he never gave up the pursuit of freedom. What’s more, Olaudah Equiano was fortunately that he had a good master who gave the idea that “he had no right to detain me, he always treated me with the greatest kindness” (p.56). However, after he experienced suffering all ways of the salve, he had known the reality brutality; originally, neither the law nor kindness could ensure him freedom and humanity. He stated that he trust his master can protect him away the assumption about salves’ escape plan. But his master ignored him and gave up him (P.57-58). Now he started to reflect on his own actions. He became a “black European salve” instead of a “black European human.”
In the salve trade of darkness, Christianity was the light which help Olaudah Equiano get through the night, even if it's just the…