Question: What is Equiano’s argument against the charge of African
inferiority?(Hint: think about Hume’s criteria for inferiority)
Many non-African’s believed that Africans were inferior to other races and
cultures. A famous person to have a belief of the inferiority of Africans was David
Hume. In fact, Hume wrote a famous essay which included his reasons for
African inferiority. Although many people agreed with him, people of African
descent obviously did not. One African, Olaudah Equiano, wrote about his
experiences with slavery and also spoke against other races, especially whites’,
negative views toward the African race.
David Hume wrote about many ways in which Africans were inferior to
other races, and one of his reasons for inferiority was for the Africans’ “lack of
arts”. Equiano begged to differ. In his writing, Equiano gave examples of how
Africans did, actually, have involvemnet with the arts. During a celebration, for
example, Equiano wrote of how song and dance played an important role in the
celebration. Both song and dance are forms of art.
Other races looked down as Africans as unintelligent and unskillful, when
in fact many Africans(in their home land) were skillful and intelligent. Equiano
spoke of priests and magicians who also acted as doctors and helped people get
better if they were ill, as well as advise them if they had a problem. If those
African priests and magicians did not have any intelligence, then they would not
have the ability to help people as they did. Therefore, Africans did, in fact have
intelligence, although they were accused of not having intelligence.
In his writing, Equiano proved to the public that Africans were not inferior
to other races and he gave valid examples to back up what he had to say.