The conditions on a slave ship were truly quite devastating. There are many reason as to why this is true. One reason is that there was not a great amount of space. Another reason was that there was a stench. Also, the slaves already knew what they were going to have to do when they reached the New World. The last reason is that the slaves were treated quite poorly.
There was not a significant space for living conditions. Because of this, slaves had to endure being on the ship for about eight weeks and stay in a prone position. The slaves would have to be aligned one next to another and would be stuck like that for the entire journey. This created hardships for many of the slaves and would lead to them physically not being able to breathe. This is because there were not enough vents to supply oxygen to the slaves.
Because of not having enough vents to supply fresh air, there was usually a stench on the slave ships. This stench bothered the slaves and especially bothered Olaudah Equiano. The stench was usually the stench of unbathed people. Some describe the living conditions as “inhumane”. Not having enough vents also resulted in suffocation and heat.
The slaves also knew what they were going to do when they reached their destination. This gave them time to think about what they were doing. Their choice was to either stay on the ship and endure a life of pain and suffering or jump off the ship and hope to die. This is the reason for Equiano’s quote, “I now wished for the last friend, death, to relieve me.”
The slaves were treated quite poorly which was also one of the reasons why they wanted to kill themselves. They were forced to eat so that they did not die. If one did not eat, he/she would receive hourly whippings. If a slave were to jump off the ship, they would make sure that they drowned rather than getting saved by the people running the ship. This is why slave ship conditions were devastating.
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