The mechanisms gave the Africans some form of

The practice of slavery is an ancient
one.  The basic definition of slavery refers to a condition in which
individuals are owned by others, who control where they live, when and what
they work, and in general control their actions. Slavery had previously existed
throughout history, in many times and in most places. The primary purpose of
slavery at first was for wealthy landowners to have other people do their
work for in them, in order to increase their profits and supply as quick as
possible.   But, the definition and purpose that later came to be
associated with slavery today is the brutal and inhumane treatment of a people
which often ended in the individual’s death. Throughout the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries Europeans started to colonize the New World,
and they did so with slaves.  These slaves often came from other countries
and continents, for example, Africa. They took salves from their home towns and
sold them in the slave trade in the New World.  A key component of the
trade was the horrific Middle Passage that carried African captives across the
Atlantic to the Americas.  The Middle Passage was seen as the most
horrific account of the slave trade. It was the event during the slave trade
that one can argue stripped African people of power and dignity.  African people
were taken and forced to endure this passage to eventually be sold. 
Throughout the passage, many Africans, run down both physically and mentally,
began to develop defense mechanisms for survival. One of the most common
mechanisms was the act of starvation. Believing that death would return them to
their country, many stopped eating and starved themselves to death.  The
defense mechanisms gave the Africans some form of power over their own bodies
temporarily. Although many succeeded in starving themselves to death, it became
so common that the captains developed many ways of brutal treatment to force
the Africans to eat.  Many slaves that were on the Middle Passage voyage
simply tried to jump overboard with means of ending the brutality right
away.  Of course most of them were caught and
viciously beaten by the captains and sailors. Olaudah Equiano’s “The
Middle Passage” is a firsthand account depicting what life was like on
these Middle Passage voyages and how he and the other captured slaves felt on
their long trip overseas. Equiano used sentences like “The stench of the hold while
we were on the coast was so intolerably loathsome, that it was dangerous to
remain there for any time…” and “The closeness of the place, and
the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded
that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us.” to
describe to readers just how terrible the conditions of these slave ships truly
were. He also used sentences like “I became so sick and low that I was not
able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything..” and
“laid me across I think the windlass, and tied my feet, while the other
flogged me severely…” to elaborate on how morbidly cruel these African people were
treated. Equiano’s purpose of writing this firsthand account was so
that simply any reader could understand what hardships the African people endured on this voyage to the New World, what
began slavery in America, and for readers to have a glimpse into the
frightening world that was the slave trade.  People also believe that he
wrote this memoir as a kind of therapy from his harsh and brutal voyage.  The Middle Passage not only has been deemed as
one of the cruelest parts of the slave trade but also as one of the most inhumane
treatments of human life over the past centuries.  Olaudah
Equiano’s “The Middle Passage” is one of the many pieces of evidence that help
support that fact, and will continue supporting it throughout history. 


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