This was an era when the slave trade was a global trade, and very few of the victims lived to tell the story. “Its geographical scope encompassed four continents……”(p.29) It was a highly competitive business as highlighted by the paper. The source gives the voice of Olaudah Equiano who narrates the experiences he went through during that period, how he had his education “He learned to read and write…” as well as his experience as a slave “his experience as a slave was very quiet unusual.”(p.29)
The paper does not bring a clear picture of the slave trade, it is quite so brief and just highlights a few facts about the slave trade and the circumstances and the extent of the trade on a global scale. Rather it only covers a few instances that the writer narrates to explain his predicament “he traveled extremely as a seaman aboard one of his master’s ship” (p.29). Olaudah helps the audience to get a vivid picture of the conditions and circumstances that slaves endured in the long and painful journey from freedom in their motherland to a life of misery and suffering in foreign lands. We get to understand that from the time a slave is captured he/she had to go through the hands of various slave masters till they finally get to their final destination this is a way to make sure the price appreciates from the source market all the way to the ultimate slave master.
The story further highlights of the writer as a Freeman and therefore falls short of a reliable source of information “and was allowed to buy his freedom in 1776, settling in England”(p.29) Slave trade was lucrative both at the market of origin and the labor market. The source explains that it was recorded at a time when the slave trade was facing abolishing with limited information to describe the case scenario adequately “his book was published in 1779 as abolitionism was gaining wider acceptance.”(p.29) Olaudah Equiano narrates how slaves were captured in Africa and later to be sold away to the European and American markets. His experience when still in Africa where he would be exchanged from one slave master to another, however, paints more valuable expertise in the hands of native Africans. There’s no distinction between the slave and the free man leaving for freedom. At this level, his narration is different from many sources that highlight the slave trade. He tells of a mistress who treats a slave with dignity and respect equal or more to her son (p.31).
The idea of a slave master/mistress treating a slave as a free man is hard to find in most records that highlight this later outlawed but once very lucrative trade.” Equiano was seized from his home at the age of eleven and sold into the Atlantic slave trade at the high point of that infamous commerce…”(p.29) The shipboard experience was characterized by instances of brutality and cruelty and surprisingly even to some points the white slave masters turning against their own and subjecting them to a slave like treatment. It would only mean that those involved in the trade were so much obsessed to the point that they could not spare anyone getting in their way irrespective of their position in society. Living conditions were destitute that which led to an outbreak of diseases due to poor ventilation and sanitation. European Christians were against the trade as its ideas were against Christian teachings “do unto all men as you would men should do unto you…”
On a positive note, however, the slave trade enhanced the movement of humanity across continents which result in the distribution of the world population in all the continents of the world. “its victims numbered in the many millions.”(p.29)” his experience on a slave ship, and his arrival in the Americas.”(p.29) Though characterized by human rights abuse, it led to the realization of civil freedoms in the years that followed its abolition with Christianity as a religion playing a crucial role to make this a reality since most slave masters were Christians and the slaves got assimilated into the culture of their new masters. It would have been resourceful had it explained in detail the slave part of the story. Rather the source just highlights a section of the issue, then focus shifts on the abolition with insufficient information on explaining the title. “Voices from the slave trade, ” the source highlights his life into freedom though it is not explained adequately about his contribution to fighting for the rights of slaves since he was once a slave earlier on through it is vague about his lobbying “he became a prominent voice in the emerging abolitionist movement..”(p.29)
Strayer, R. W. & Nelson, E. W. (2016). “Chapter 14. Thinking Through Sources: Voices from the Slave Trade.” In Ways of the World: A Brief Global History. New York, NY: Macmillan Learning.