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Slavery in Africa was less brutal. African slavery did not include much flogging or separation from the master. The slave-master relationship was friendlier than the one of the Europeans in the New World. Equiano was allowed to eat with the master and her free son and play with her son. He was treated fairly in a sense to at one time he felt as though he was adopted rather than enslaved. Equiano saw slavery in the New World as being worse than a death sentence. The daily flogging and treatment as being strictly property and unhuman was only encountered with the white men.
The most difficult part of the experience psychologically for Equiano’s was being separated from his sister. Equiano was the youngest boy of six, and his only sister was the youngest child in the family. Therefore, he had a closer relationship with her than his older brothers. Equiano was devastated when his sister was separated from him: “I was left in a state of distraction not to be described. I cried and grieved continually; and for several days did not eat anything but what they forced into my mouth.” He saw his sister again months later at the coast, and they wept and embraced each other without speaking. They stayed together that night, but the next morning she was torn from him forever. “The wretched-ness of my situation was redoubled by my anxiety after her fate . . . your image has been always riveted in my heart, from which neither time nor fortune have been able to remove it.” Equiano’s emotional pain from the separation of his sister concluded the fact that his past life in Africa was forever gone.
Merchants and planters came aboard to inspect Equiano and the other slaves. This inspection included making them jump and concluding with the examiner pointing to the land. On the day that the slaves were sold by the merchant, buyers rushed into the yard in which the slaves were kept and chose which person or persons that they wanted. This was terrifying to Equiano and the other Africans because family ties were broken, friends were separated, and they would most likely never see each other again.
Initially he thought the “ugly men” were going to eat him. Equiano also thought his captors possessed magic. He inferred this when talking to his countrymen about how the captors sailed the ships and anchored them. When Equiano saw the men riding on horseback, he thought the people of the New World were “full of nothing but the magical arts.” Equiano continually saw or endured the cruelty of the white men: “Every circumstance I met with, served only to render my state more painful, and heightened my apprehensions, and my opinion of the cruelty of the whites.”
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