Equiano’s Life at Sea

Olaudah Equiano was an African born in 1745. Equiano was kidnapped when he was about 11 years of age, along with his sister. They were later separated and sold to different master’s, which devastated Equiano.

 

Equiano was eventually sold to a slaveholding ship, which truly horrified him. Hundreds of slaves had been crammed inside the ship, chained to each other with little food or water, and no toilet. That meant that many slaves died from diseases after having to inhale the feces of all the other slaves. The slaves were treated horribly, sometimes being whipped until they couldn’t stand anymore. After another voyage and more trading masters, Equiano ends up with a sailor on a ship. This master treats him well, and Equiano becomes very loyal to him.

 

Over the years of being out at sea, Equiano learned much about how ships operate, how the system of the crew works, and about the British and French sides. He also learned how to read and write, something that was extremely important to him. At one point he gained the help of a father-like figure, who taught him some basics of arithmetic too. Equiano was having the time of his life, and by the time he was 14 he spoke English rather clearly, could understand what others were saying to him, and became an important member of the crew. Despite switching ships now and again, he stayed with his master nearly all the time, and the two had a tender bond. All seemed to be well until his time of the ship was up, and he was to be freed.

 

On that day, Equiano was very hopeful and excited. The rest of the crew encouraged him, saying he would be free soon, and that they were sure of it. Legally, Equiano’s master did not have any right to keep him as a slave or sell him, and so Equiano was quite certain he would be free soon. However, his master (who he had been with for years now) locked him up and found a captain on a neighbouring ship who would buy him. Equiano was unlawfully sold and he could do nothing about it. His former shipmates promised to find and free him once they got their wages, but his freedom was far from his grasp.

 

In conclusion, Equiano greatly enjoyed his time at sea and was quite content. However, because of his greedy master, he was unable to gain freedom, and so was condemned to slavery for a longer period of time.
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