Search

Search using this query type:



Search only these record types:

Item
File
Exhibit
Exhibit Page
Simple Page

Advanced Search (Items only)

Olaudah Equiano

In The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789), Equiano recounts his enslavement across the Atlantic, his conversion to Christianity, and his eventual journey to freedom.  Equiano describes the terror and inhumanity of chattel slavery upon a slave ship and in doing so he invokes the imagery of cannibalism, fearing that the white men would eat him. This scene is an interesting reversal of early rhetoric that positioned Africans and West Indians as cannibals:

"When I looked round the ship too and saw a large furnace of copper boiling, and a mulititude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate and quite overpowered with horrow and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. . . . I asked if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces and long hair?'"