The English and Europeans believed that Africa was nothing more than a “dark” place. It was filled with mysterious people and even more mystifying ways of life held by the people. They thought everyone was beneath them, and they were extremely closed-minded to any possibility that the Africans were equals. In actuality the African society was a well developed and fully functioning continent. There was royalty, agriculture, metropolis areas, and many other similar aspects to other European countries.
Ayuba Suleiman Diallo’s story of his life in slavery held true to all of the stereotypes held against African’s during this time period. The constant theme throughout the excerpt is this “animal-like” quality that the English and Europeans believed the Africans had. Everyone perceived them not as humans, but as property and money. The first display of this in Diallo’s story was when he was captured. The people who stole him shaved his head and beard to make him look more as a common slave. In Diallo’s culture this was the equivalence to a slap in the face.
It is not like he is a pet that needed to be groomed; he was a human and his captors treated him like he was nothing. Another instance where he was treated inhumanly was after he was sold into slavery in Maryland. While praying in the forest, a young white male threw dirt in Diallo’s face making fun of his spiritual ways. In any society a religion is sacred. This complete disregard for a person’s way of worship is the exact thing that happened to all slaves. The interesting part to this specific slave is that the people who took him were completely off in their first impression of Diallo.
Diallo came from an upper class of family. His parents were Muslim merchants and he was educated to be one as well. If he lived in America or Europe and was a different skin color he would be a respected citizen. This vast difference in the way these people thought about him and the way he actually was shows the misconceptions of the African race. He was human, he was not property to be mistreated and sold for profit. In America nowadays people would be incarcerated for religious persecution the way Diallo was treated. This story portrays the West African culture as something not so far off from other cultures.
In any society there is always a difference among different parts of the country. Sometimes that difference is not only in the way they talk or act, but in the way they interact with each other. Just as the North and South feuded in America, certain areas were feuding at this time in Africa. In the passage it explains how the Gambia River separated two sides, each side including a group of people who did not live cohesively. This proves that there was a system there. Their culture was complex, there were religions, classes, and a system to things.
It was not just a whole mess of chaos and everyone there was not uncivilized as the English and the Europeans first thought. Diallo was born into a higher class of people, but because of his skin color he was kidnapped and taken into slavery. The bottom line is that no matter what happened or who you were, during the period of the slave trade, the only thing that mattered was money. The English and Europeans did not think about the Africans and their culture. They went into the slave trade thinking they were nothing. It did not matter what was actually true, as long as at the end of the day they got paid.