12 Sep 2022


Equiano Was Fortunate

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Academic level: College

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The name “Olaudah” means a good fortune in the author’s native language. Equiano’s narrative describes the hardships that slaves experienced in the 18 th century. However, the ability of Equiano to survive all the horrors of slavery helps to ascertain how fortunate he was. He describes his account with passion while pointing out to the cruelty and oppression that Africans experienced during slavery. During his era, the whites treated Africans like animals. Slaves were starved, beaten and exposed to dangerous ordeals during their transportation from one owner to the next. Despite the hardships, it’s evident that Equiano was fortunate enough to survive this threat. The narrative was written by himself which highlights how lucky he was. This is due to the fact that in the 18 th century, an African writer was never considered to harbor any substantial knowledge of documenting a story. Therefore, Equiano’s act of noting down the ordeal that he experienced is astonishing. Perhaps he may be considered to be one of the luckiest slaves to acquire education.

After being kidnapped, Equiano describes how he was exchanged among various owners until he reached the ocean docks. It is through this ordeal that he eventually harbored little hopes of surviving. In the narrative, he boldly concedes that the whites “were going to kill me” (423). He thought that white people could accomplish anything by magic. However, besides this exchange from one owner to the next, Equiano survived the horror that most slaves were facing during that period. Therefore, this transition from one slave owner to the next clearly confirms how lucky he was. In the eighteenth century slaves were treated as animals thus the chances of surviving were too minimal.

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Equiano’s fortune is also instigated by his modest kind of life. He never saw himself to be better than other people. Despite being treated harshly on board, he found himself in England under the care of a hospitable master. However, it is through Equaino’s modest nature that coerces his master to treat him well (431). This is a fortunate aspect since most of the slaves were being treated harshly by their masters. For instance, he states that slaves from central and western parts of Africa were being taken to Europeans nations for unpaid labor in the plantations (155). This assertion clearly illustrates how Equiano was lucky to get a master who treated him well.

Equiano experienced both the cruelty of slavery and freedom. This is a contradicting case which can only be associated with luck. His social contact with Robert King proved to be a vital point of his life. It is through his service to Admiral Pascal that his freedom as a slave came through. However, he wasn’t granted free route to freedom but earned it through education. Therefore, his association with Robert king can be testified to be a fortunate thing since very few slaves were given the opportunity to gain western education and also to convert to Christianity.

Also, the further success of Equiano depended on his acceptance of Christianity. This was the only viable way to acquire western education. Also, his willingness to convert to Christianity hinged on his initial spirituality backgrounds. It is very evident in the narrative that he lived a spiritual life in his homeland prior to being kidnapped as a slave. Through this spirituality, he believed that he was “a particular favorite of heaven” (402). However, he was utterly disturbed to draw a direct connection between slavery and Christianity. This is due to the fact that slave owners were also Christians. However, he came to learn that Christianity had nothing to do with slavery. He later realized that Christian beliefs were similar to his native religion in Africa.

From a personal point of view, I would consider Equiano to be fortunate. This is due to the fact that despite being a slave, he reached high level that could not be imagined. He was barely eleven when he was kidnapped. He went through cruelty and brutality during slavery. During this period the slaves suffered especially on board. Some of them died of brutality and diseases due to prolonged exposure to colds when on board to European countries. Therefore, Equiano’s transition from slavery to finally winning his freedom is a fortune on its own. His vocal campaigns on slavery abolition are way above what was expected of former slaves in the eighteenth century. Therefore, this transition helps emphasize how fortunate he was in life.


Allison, R. J. (2016).  Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Written by Himself . Macmillan Higher Education. 

Holmes, C. (2015).  John Bull's island: immigration and British society, 1871-1971 . Routledge. 

Landers, J. G. (2013).  Against the odds: Free Blacks in the slave societies of the Americas . Routledge. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Equiano Was Fortunate.


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