They had never seen whites before, nor did they speak the language of their captors, so they had no idea of their destiny. Equiano tells us the harsh conditions aboard the ship. The slaves were shackled together. Equiano almost makes the reader hear the clanking of the chains and the gasps for clean air. The ships were grossly over crowded and the heat of the ship was almost unbearable.
Many were sick and undoubtedly terrified of what was to happen next. When they arrived to their destination the slaves were auctioned off as if they were cattle. Mothers were separated from their children, husbands from their wives and sisters and brothers were all ripped apart from one another. 2. When Equiano is first taken aboard the ship he is terrified because he had never seen white men before and believed that he was taken into a world of bad spirits. That shows how different their culture and belief system was.
He was convinced that the whites were going to eat him. Equiano was unfamiliar with horses and buildings with stories. He mentions several times about their long hair, so that must not have been a normalcy in his culture; as with the horses and different building structures. 1. Nelson found many diseases such as smallpox, but the majority of the slaves were infected with purulent opthalmia.
This disease made their eyelids to swell and produce a discharge that they could not even wipe away for the chains. Due to the many diseases and harsh living conditions many of the slaves died during the voyage-and were just tossed over board when they did. In this memoir Nelson says that 460 slaves left Brazil and 348 survived the passing. In another account 572 Africans were counted and although the exact number of Africans that were on the ship to begin with was not recorded, he believed that over 700 were on board in the beginning. 2. Nelsons description of the conditions aboard the slave ship was much more harsh that Equianos personal memoir.
He told of the disease, the loathsome smell, shortage of food, and the desperation the slaves showed for water. Nelson tells of the horrid living conditions, the lack of space and the odors. His description of the poor slaves swatting in corners and the misery that was amongst them makes the reader almost sick it is so vivid. Equiano tells of the harsh living conditions and how terrified he was, but Nelson “showed” the true cruelty of what the people did and put slaves through.Bibliography: