The Horrors of a Slave Ship

The Horrors of a Slave Ship

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The Horrors of a Slave Ship

The Horrors of a Slave Ship follows a time in American history when ships used to be taken into captivity, especially those that opposed the commercial revolution in Europe. The article tells the story using firsthand accounts from sailors, merchants, ship captains, abolitionists and the slaves themselves tracking their journey from capture in the African villages to their sale in America. Particularly, the article navigates in detail the tragic encounters of Olaudah Equiano, a captive slave and how he was flogged, kidnapped severally and suffered sleepless nights. The men in the slave ships were chained to the middle deck of the ship. There was gun room in the ship that was used to store weapons. The men used the enslaved children to sneak tools, allowing them to sneak to the gun room where they obtained weapons. The weapons were employed in the battle between Americans and Africans and many Americans and Africans lost their lives in the battle. The battle lasted over an hour and things became difficult for the men enslaved in the ship. It got to a point when the battle became inevitable, and they set the entire ship on fire burning everything, themselves included. The men opted to die in the flames than to suffer on the slave ship. The explosion was triggered by gunpowder which was aboard the ship and nearly everyone died. The article reveals the greater truths that unfold from a sequence of personal stories. Through Olaudah Equiano’s story, the author points to the tribulations of a captive slave. At the age of eleven, Olaudah Equiano’s life changed when he was kidnapped alongside his sister. They were treated brutally and forced to do dangerous jobs and if they did not follow orders they were flogged without mercy.

By telling the personal experience of Olaudah Equiano in captivity, the author wants readers to process and absorb the extent of maltreatment and the full range of horrors the people were subjected to. The author intends to pass across the message that such treatment of slaves was unacceptable at the time. Such approaches had allowed people to become numb to human beings being kept in hot chains, in densely populated and poorly ventilated quarters covered in blood, bile, and excrement of the sick and dying people. The author wants to evoke feelings of disgust by describing the inhumane treatment of the slaves on the slave ship. There was also routine rape of women and girls and reprisals on those who were unwilling to abide by the officer’s commands. It is also the intention of the author to evoke fear and mercy by pointing to the fact that hungry sharks were awaiting to devour the bodies of the suicidal and dying slaves. The author reveals the exploitative nature and character of the sailors of the early 19th century and the motivation of the rank-and-file pirates and the critical role of sailors in America’s Revolution. Additionally, the author helps democratize the readers’ understanding of seafaring during colonial times from the standpoint of the ruling class. The author also demonstrates how slave ships and crews managed their journeys when transporting slaves to America. To increase profits, captains denied their crew food and left them in the Caribbean on their way home to avoid paying their wages.

Through reading this article, I have gained a new understanding of the journey of slaves into America. I knew that the journey was not easy and that they went through many problems, but I never thought that the journey was this rough. After learning about the horror that they went through from being kidnapped, being denied food, rape, and being kept in a tiny room with poor ventilation, I understand their frustration. I know why they opted for death by using the gun powder in the gun room to start a fire. I completely understand their frustrations as that is not a decent way to live. They were hopeless, the journey was long, and they had no idea what awaited them at their destination. I can only imagine how that must have felt, and maybe if I as in a similar situation with them, I would easily have given up. I keep imagining their agony, cries, screams and call for help in that tiny room. Being held in captivity is one of the most traumatizing experiences that anyone can go through. As a slave, one is not free. One does not have the freedom to move around as they please and do what they want. At all times, they must follow the directives of their superior failure to which one is flogged mercilessly. As a slave, one is usually at a disadvantage because one is treated like a less human being. One is helpless, and one does not have rights. At the time, there were no laws to protect slaves. As such, slaves did not have the will and power to fight for their rights because there was nobody to back them. They did not see a point in fighting for their rights as it would only result in their deaths. Their only choice was to abide by what their masters told them or risk losing their lives. The article has opened my eyes regarding the experiences of slaves, and it has made me grateful for the freedoms of speech, movement, expression that I enjoy today. It is a good thing that slavery was abolished and is now a thing of the past because it is inhumane and unacceptable.