The Middle Passage is an indication of a historical period where African slaves were transported from their native land to Western countries. This passage was full of malice, full of malevolence to all the slaves and even to some of the whites. What follows is an exposition of the social history revolving around an African slave known as Olaudah Equiano will be done. The discussion is based on an article written by Equiano himself after a memorable experience he underwent during the passage. In this case, a sneak peeks into what the African slaves suffered reckoning the suffering and inhuman conditions they were subjected to will be offered. Further, the essay will explore the perception that the Europeans had of the Africans and vice versa.
In extent, the passage was a mash-up of critically inhumane aspects which resulted in the demise of many African slaves. The first aspect is that they were subjected to malnutrition in that they were only given a limited amount of food, and those who were weak were unable to survive through the voyage to the overseas countries. The author mentions a scenario in which the Europeans had plenty of fish from a previous catch. The whites in this occasion are seen to select the best fish from the batch, and when they got as much as could fill their stomachs, they toss the rest back into the sea rather than give them to the slaves. Even with the tearful pleas of the African slaves, the whites would not spare a single fish for the slaves; rather they threw them away.
The second aspect encompasses the thorough beating that the slaves received during the voyage. The slaves were subjected to intense flogging when they refuse to eat and when they try to escape by jumping into the sea. The slaves were in such a great horror and brutal cruelty that they wished for death. With any chance they got, some of the slaves jumped overboard so that they could drown to death. If anyone attempted this life taking action and was caught, the subject would be submitted to a very severe beating or cutting that he or she would either die on the spot or later from his or her injuries. An example of a brutal beating is the one carried out on a white crew of the ship. The guy was whipped using a big rope until he passed on. His body was thrown overboard with no shred of humanity or regret for those who beat him.
The final aspect that contributed to high mortality in the Middle Passage was the poor living conditions that the slaves were subjected to. The slaves were mostly kept under the ships deck. Here, they were subjected to crowded conditions without proper ventilation. As the author puts it, they were in rooms that were unfit for respiration; offensive smells which resulted to suffocation of some members and caused sicknesses which led to the demise of some of the slaves.
To explore the perception in between the Africans and the Europeans magical creatures was the knowledge of the Africans concerning the Europeans. The African perceived the Europeans as a group of bad spirits who ate the Africans. This was because they had a very different skin color and spoke in a very strange language. Moreover, the whites were taken to be magical since, according to the author, they had mystical ways and spells of operating the ship through the sea.
On the other hand, the Europeans perceived the Africans as mere merchandise up for buying and selling as they wished. For instance, the slaves, on arrival to Bridgetown harbor, were placed in parcels and attentively selected by the interested merchants. They were sold from one merchant to another at the will of their owners. In other words, they were only perceived as some sorts of goods for sale and exploitation.
To sum it all up, the Middle Passage, as portrayed by Equiano, is a passage of severe cruelty and savage deeds fueled towards the slaves. It was so inhumane that the slaves wished for death. The passage is but an experience of brutality, misfortune and separation of loved ones. It is one passage that only left scars to the bodies and lives of those who experienced it.
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