Major Debates in the Study of Africa Paper

Major Debates in the Study of Africa Paper - Jun-Hao...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Jun-Hao Rosalyn Shih Prof. Mahmoud Mamdani Major Debates in the Study of Africa October 20 th , 2008 Crises and Conflicts in Olaudah Equiano’s Trans-Alantic Slave Narrative Introduction At the time of publication, The Narrative of Olaudah Equiano was the first autobiography written an African American without the aid of ghostwriters or editors, and more importantly, solid proof of how Africans were intellectually just as capable and articulate as the Europeans. Today, Olaudah Equiano’s narrative is nonetheless just as fascinating because it addresses so many of the major issues surrounding the current study of Africa. The main issues covered by this paper will be 1) how Equiano constructs an African identity within his Eurocentric conceptual framework, and 2) how he illustrates the difference between African and trans-Altantic slavery to argue in favor of abolition. Not least of all, this paper will examine how Equiano’s narrative is an evocative example of what DuBois calls “double-consciousness”, a schema that informs his outlook, and crystallizes the way he regards the relationship between Africa and the Western world. Equiano’s African identity and European conceptual Framework According to his narrative, Equiano was born around 1745 to an Ibo tribe in modern-day Eastern Nigeria and captured as a slave at age eleven. After passing through the hands of many African masters, he eventually was sold across the Atlantic. He continued to change masters who ranged from a lieutenant in the English navy to a West Indian trader to a Philadelphian Quaker merchant. It was with his new Quaker family that Equiano fully developed his literacy skills and a faith in Christianity. Through his own
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
hard-work and success he finally bought his own freedom, launched his own business career and devoted his life towards abolition. Equiano’s story of slavery to freedom is one of rags to riches only possible in America, yet he paints a utopian picture of home to suggest how simple and perfect life was before imperialism in Africa. He unabashedly recreates an paradise of the Ibo tribe of his childhood, where moral values and harmony are complete. He illustrates, in great detail, all aspects of Ibo life, including marriage ceremonies, festival celebrations, and habits of eating and dress. “As our manners are simple, our luxuries are few” (192), he states, in one of many times to emphasize his tribe’s simple and unadorned lifestyle. The system of government he describes is similarly straightforward and decentralized; for example he points out that their “subjection to the King of Benin was little more than nominal” (191). Also, Equiano asserts that prior to his capture, he had never heard of white men or even the sea. Occasionally, they would be visited by mahogany-colored men from the southwest, who brought gunpowder and other novelties. Otherwise, this near complete isolation from Western Civilization kept Equiano’s tribe in an almost pre- modern Golden Age harmony. In this way, Equiano begins to do what 20
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 10

Major Debates in the Study of Africa Paper - Jun-Hao...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online