Equiano Olaudah has had a life full of challenges right from his early childhood. From the time Equiano was kidnapped when he was left at home, he shares about his life as a slave and it is rather clear that the experience was dreadful as the reader is able to see and understand clearly how the slaves are treated when being transported to become slaves in foreign land; hunger, starvation, brutality and death are major problems faced by the slaves (Equiano, 89).
The first chapter of this book by Equiano makes an introduction about his origin country and it also gives a description of his background information. Thus, in order to understand better about Equiano’s life, it is important we briefly focus on his basic information as presented in this book because it provides the reader with a good basis for argument about the topic.
The narrative of Equiano’s life
Equiano was born in Africa in a country known as Benin, his family included seven members and Equiano was the youngest in the family that only had one sister; during his childhood, he was taught the art of war which he enjoyed doing until the age of eleven years when he was kidnapped together with his only sister and they were taken to a foreign land where they became slaves (Equiano, 26).
Equiano was sold to Mr. Pascal as a slave and it was here that he was given the name Gustavus Vassa as it was traditional for masters to give their slaves new names. Pascal sent Equiano to Britain and here, Equiano had a chance to visit places; most importantly he was sent to school in London where he learned how to write and read (Equiano, 127).
It is after this that Equiano visited other different countries and after several years, Equiano had a chance to come back to Britain where he made a very essential decision; he ventured into politics and become involved in legal procedures in efforts to campaign against slavery and slave trade. For this reason, Equiano made the first step in his major campaign by writing the book “The Interesting Narrative” which was aimed at sensitizing and campaigning against slavery.
How does Equiano define himself by the time he is writing his book?
Its is no doubt that, Equiano’s life is a concept full of dilemma for two major reasons; one, as we have already learned, Equiano was kidnapped and brought to Britain as a slave from Africa where he had a family, parents and siblings who all lived there.
Secondly, the question about his identity remains a dilemma since, when Equiano came to Britain, although he was a slave in the beginning, he had great opportunities and he became a very prominent person a factor that motivated him to make necessary social changes through campaigning against slavery.
In this regard, I am of the opinion that, Olaudah Equiano is an African and by the time he is writing this narrative book, it is no doubt that he is a supporter of the African heritage. As a critical reader, one can be able to see clearly from the beginning that, Equiano’s interesting narrative is captured from a home setting of the African background and as the book begins, it explains and makes a full description about the early child hood and life of Equiano which provides very basic information about his community and his society.
Equiano is enslaved and taken to the foreign country in which he comes face to face with a very different lifestyle and culture. However, Equiano takes great pain when he is in the foreign land considering what his fellow brothers and sister in Africa are undergoing. This clearly shows that, Equiano indentifies with Africa (Equiano, 110).
As Equiano narrates about his life in this book, he maintains and portrays a great aspect of African legacy and through out the book, he upholds African purity and further claims that, people in the Europe do not have high cultural qualities especially considering their flexible and dynamic way of life. Although, Equiano Olaudah grows in the middle of western ideas, it is no doubt that he also portrays numerous and desirable African cultural qualities and therefore making him to appear as a person who is proud of the African culture.
Additionally, based on his courage and fighting spirit, we are also able to observe that Equiano Olaudah is not happy neither is he contended about what is happening in Africa (slavery and slave trade). For this particular reason, Equiano becomes ambitious and he decides to campaign against the wide spread evil of slavery and slave trade which by then, is a common practice against Africans by people from the west. This incidence clearly shows his love for Africa and it also depicts his loyalty to his native home; Africa.
Slavery was a practice that was wide spread in the world during the early period. Amongst the many slaves, Equiano also became a victim from the time he was very young. However, when he becomes of age, Equiano is well informed and he makes a decision to fight against the negative practice. “The interesting narrative” plays a major role in facilitating the war against slavery which is later abolished shortly after the death of Equiano Olaudah.
Equiano, O. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. LinkedIn: Coffee-town Press, 2008.