The life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, traces from African freedom, through European enslavement, to Anglican freedom. Olaudah was born in 1745 in a part of Africa called Guinea, here there are districts, he was born Essaka. The life here was agriculture, it was the main part of employment for everyone in the district, even the women and children.(p17) In this part of Africa if the Europeans want slaves they hire a chief, he then takes his tribe to capture slaves. The leader chief usually goes to other districts or states to start battle and get prisoners.
As Olaudah remembers when he was little, his people were suddenly attacked, but they became victorious. The chief of the attack was taken and killed because he was the leader of the invasion. The rest were taken as prisoners and used as slaves. These slaves had easy lives, they worked, were clothed, and almost lived like the others.
On some occasions these slaves could even have slaves of their own, the only difference between the two is that they could not eat in the same place.(p19) When Olaudah and the other childrens parents went to the fields to work, the children would get together and play. One of the children would always have to look out for someone trying to capture them into slavery. At the age of eleven Olaudah and his sister were at home watching the house when two men and a woman jumped over the wall and captured the two. They were tied up and traveled many days, they also refused to eat unless forced to. While the two were traveling, the only time they could find comfort was when they were sleeping or crying in each others arms.
The two of them could no longer find comfort because they were seperated and took in two different directions. Olaudah was treated very well at his new masters house, he worked in the kitchen, in the yard, and with the livestock. While he was planning to escape something happen to ruin it all. He was out with the chickens, he threw a pebble at one and killed it. Olaudah was so scared that he ran away and hid in bush, the whole town was looking for him now. After not eating or drinking for the whole day, he needed food, so he went into his masters house, the next morning a slave woman found him.
He was again treated very well by his new buyers, they often carried him on their shoulders.(p28) As he came closer and closer to the sea coast he could tell there were fewer people that spoke the same languages, so he learned and could inturpret two or three different languages. To Olaudah’s surprise the next house that he was taken to he ran into his sister, they then cried and held each other.Again he was taken from his sister forever, but he was sold to a woman and her son. The two of them treated his very well and they could speak amongst each other, another astonishment to Olaudah was he ate with them. He was there for two or three months until he was kidnapped again, he was then taken to a river and they traveled in canoes for six or seven months to the sea coast.(p33) He was amazed for what he was seeing, but everything changed in a flash when he was taken to the slave ship. The slaves were treated like Olaudah had never seen before, being chained up, beaten, and forced to eat. When Olaudah refused to eat he was tied up and brutally flogged until he did.
He did not know what to think of the white man, they had no women, beat and killed their own, and traveled on a mystical boat across the water. After many months of harsh beatings and travel the boat reached Barbadoes, where they were to be sold and sent to work. Olaudah could not believe what he was seeing, house were built with bricks, men were on horses, and there were so many different languages. After being in Barbadoes for a few days he was then taken to Virgina and then sold again to a man named Michael Henry Pascal.
This man did not want him as his slave, Olaudah was a gift for his friends in England. While on the boat the captain and Olaudah’s master gave him the name Gustavus Vassa, he refuse it but they stuck with the name. He also met a boy just a few years older than him named Dick, the two of them became very attached and did everything together. Olaudah was hardly twelve when they arrived in England, he was amazed by what he saw. He thought there was salt everywhere on the ground, but the mate told him to taste it, it wasn’t it was snow.(p43) Once arriving at a home of his masters friend Olaudah came upon a little girl who became very attached to him.
He felt like when he was with his earlier master the young man, and he was treated very well. They then began to travel many place on a large ship with many men and a lot of guns. While on this ship did many new things, learned to fire a gun and faught for money with white boys.He and Dick then went onto the Savage sloop of war in assistance to bring back another boat that run aground. From there they went to London so that their master could sent for them. On their next travel their master wanted them to stay on the ship so they could learn the french horn. Olaudah could not do this because of being so attached to his master, so he begged to go.
He agreed, but Dick was sent on the ship where they would no longer see each other.(p46) They began to travel to many places around the world. While on these expeditions there were numerous battles. They then arrived at Deptford and Olaudah master was forcing him onto a ship, which meant he was trying to sell him. Olaudah said he couldn’t sell him because he has been baptized.
As they were traveling no ships would take him, but then they found a ship headed to the West Indies, his master then sold him.(p65) Once arriving he was made to unload the ships, he then learned that he was to be sold to a Robert King. While with Mr. King he was very usful and did many things for him, often saving him money. Olaudah was still traveling and running into the crulties of slavery, sometimes it was happening to him too. Olaudah needed to get out of the West Indies so he was then sold again, the boat was headed for Georgia.(92) While in Georgia Olaudah was beaten severely and almost died, but he recovered and soon was back to work.
After many voyages Olaudah has obtained enough money for his freedom, after everything is signed a tragity occurs when his master dies. Olaudah keeps traveling on boat and runs into many diffaculties, men were trying to kidnap him, or flog him, but he was a free man.(pp117-118) He then began to work for many people and kept traveling from place to place, visiting many new islands. Then he realized all the hardship of the sea life and decided to give it up for long while.(p167) He takes up many new places and begins to write many people, to help the slave with their freedom. In which one of his letters is a petition to the Queen.
Mary Prince was born in Bermuda, her mother was a household slave on Mr.Myners farm. After Mr. Myners died she was given to Mrs.Williams, she was a wonderful lady and treated all her slaves very well.(p187) Mary and her family was then sold, they were all split up to different masters. While Mrs. I was her master she thought it was the worst, having to work in harsh conditions from morning till night. She had to do many various jobs, cook, clean, milk cows, and take care of the cattle.
She was there for almost five years until being sent away to Terk’s island.(pp194-197) He new master was Mr. D, she couldn’t belive it could be any worse than with Mrs. I, but it was. She was tied up and beaten and often flogged for not keeping up with the rest of the slaves. Mr. Wood and his mistress treated Mary very bad, when he learned of her getting married she was beaten severely.
Then when Mary ask a man to by her, for she almost had enough money to buy her freedom he agreed. When that man asked Mr.Wood if he was willing to sell her he said “no”, and then again beat her. Mary’s life was shaped very differently because of the fact of her being a woman. The treatment and the work that she received was much more worse than that of a man. Mary could not get anything to work in her favor, especially in buying her freedom.
She did not have the opportunities that a man had, in ways of working in different places for her own profit. Almost everyone that met Mary had something good to say about her, how people respected her, her politeness, and her honesty. Bibliography: