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

By James Walvin

The autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, a favorite 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 hundreds of thousands of Africans within the period of the transatlantic slave exchange. This examine makes an attempt to create a rounded portrait of the guy in the back of the literary photograph, and to check Equiano within the context of Atlantic slavery.

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He was well treated and had enough time on his hands 'to improve myself in reading and writing. '22 This is hardly surprising since boys serving as servants to the officers, might make up 6 to 10 per cent of the ship's complement. 23 Sometimes Equiano met other Africans. Back in England in 1760-61, for example, Equiano found himself based on the Isle of Wight, 'this delightful island' where he found 'the inhabitants very civil'. There he made friends with another black slave 'a black boy about my own size', who dashed over to greet Equiano when he had caught sight 'of one of his own countrymen'.

Other men, notably Daniel Queen, also helped Equiano and proved influential in the life of a young boy bereft of the authority figures from his own cultural background. And they seem to have been important in shaping Equiano's balanced view of white people in general. For a man whose woes were a direct result of European actions, Equiano showed no obvious hostility to white people, choosing instead his friends and enemies by their behaviour, not their ethnicity. The Industrious Bee made landfall at Falmouth.

491. 2 For the most recent study of the trade, see David Ellis and David Richardson (eds), Routes to Slavery (London, 1997). 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.

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