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Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano

1507 words - 6 pages

Assignment # 1— Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
History shows that both Africans and African Americans alike faced unique problems prior to and during the 1800's, particularly prior to 1865. One such problem is the issue of Diaspora and how culture and slavery has affected the choice of religion. It is the purpose of this paper to expose comparatively the extent to which individuals have been influenced by these issues. One such individual is Olaudah Equiano. By following and analyzing some of the key moments of faith in his life, this paper seeks to expose the extent to which the series of controversial dialectical incidents that happen throughout his early life, i.e., his cultural African religious traditions (thesis), and Christianity as taught by his slave masters (antithesis), had a direct influence in developing his own understanding of religion (synthesis). Furthermore, this paper will demonstrate Olaudah Equiano's decision was based on the impact of both the influences of culture and slavery, and a personal experience based on his perspective of divine intervention.
To begin, most Africans have come from societies with traditional African religious backgrounds unrelated to Islam or Christianity. As a whole, African religious traditions combine belief in a Supreme Being with the worship of other gods and ancestors and use ritual and magic to mediate between human beings, nature, and the gods. In many African languages, there is no word for God, because in their tradition every thing and place embodies God. Many African religions have common tenets. They share a belief in a community of deities, the idea that ancestors serve as a way to communicate with these deities. They also share the belief that society as a whole is organized around values and traditions drawn from a common origin, which was created by one Supreme Being. Moreover, despite the universality of belief in a Supreme Being in Africa, formal, church-like worship of God was not widely practiced. This was the world of Olaudah Equiano; but unbeknownst to him, he would soon embark on a passage that would dramatically change life as he knew it.
Equiano narrates his life from boyhood onwards; he was born in a gold-coast African village, sold into slavery to another village, moved to yet another village as a slave, and finally captured and sold to European slave-owners. He was then renamed by one of his slave masters. After reading the vivid description of his way of life, customs, and religion of his village in his narrative, it is clear that before the influence of Europeans and Christian missionaries, it appears the Ibo religion was a complex synthesis of magic, and nature. Ibo practiced some form of ancestor worship, which held that in order to gain success in this world; one must appease the spirits of the deceased.
According to the memoirs from Equiano, "the natives believe that there is one Creator of all things, who...

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