In what ways did the interactions of Africans and Europeans create a “New World”? meaning what kind of impact did Olaudah Equiano make towards his surrounding and vice versa? Olaudoh Equiano projected a new world where both Africans and Europeans could advance if they would rid of racial prejudice and just honestly work together. But before we get into how the interactions of Africans and Europeans created a “New World”, we must first learn what kind of person Olaudoh Equiano was.
Olaudoh Equiano was born in 1745, he was also known as Gustavus Vassa (his slave name). He was captured and enslaved as a child in his home town of Essaka (located in Africa). Equiano worked as an author, a merchant, a seafarer and a hairdresser. He was shipped to the West Indies and then moved to England where he successfully purchased his freedom and eventually settled in 1792. He married an English woman and had two children. Equaino wrote an autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which depicts the horrors of slavery and tells Equiano’s story as a slave and the road to freedom in the New World.
The major creation of the New World I believe is centered around the destructiveness of the slave trade. Equiano's life is a testament to how terrible the slave trade was for him and others. For example, being “cargo” on a slave ship was a terrifying experience for Equiano. He says, “I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life; so that with loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything. I now wished for the last friend, Death…” (55-56).
African adults, teens, and even children were kidnapped from their homes and separated from their families. The bonds between families were destroyed and slaves were given new names. Any type of culture, values, tradition, etc. were obliterated by the Europeans (slave owners). Slaves were subject to the most horrible conditions and punishments then delivered for erratic and wrong reasons. This detrimental behavior resulted from the artificial levitation of the white man over black. But even the Europeans were depraved by the slave trade because it turned decent people into monsters. Although Equiano’s different masters showed different degrees of cruelty or kindness, they are all complicit in its horrors. The slave trade brought on a new era; it opened a pandora’s box, a new world, a new identity.
The main narrative of the book is about a man who is not allowed to have an identity because he is a slave, but he maintains to shape one in spite of the world. He was invisible, a void, he had no control over his property, his own movements, or even his name. He says, “my captain and master named me Gustavus Vassa. I at that that time began to understand him a little, and refused to be called so, and told him as well as I could...