Commenting on the actions of Africans towards Africans in fostering underdevelopment and weakness of their land, he observed:
"In modern capitalist society, rules are drawn up to protect members of the possessing class from devouring each other raw; but on the Upper Guinea Coast and the West African littoral as a whole, capitalism paraded without even a loin cloth to hide its nakedness. With no restraints on either side, the confrontation of the two cultures was neither peaceful nor orderly, contrary to exploratory revision, and it proved entirely detrimental to African society which was the weaker party."5
This destruction of Africa had to find expression in the realm of ideas; and the church in Europe, which was the principal ideological organ of the State, found biblical justification for the enslavement of blacks, turning the poetic "Songs of Solomon" into the rationale for the bloody trade. Quoting "Songs of Solomon" Chapter One, verse five and six, priests blessed the Africans boarding the slave ships while at the Vatican they debated whether Africans were humans or beasts. While the pontification as to whether slavery was divinely sanctioned was going on, the slave traders, merchants and bankers exposed the fact that the need for profits dictated the ideas with respect to the relationship between Europe and Africa. The bankers, shippers, and iron masters, who made the chains and anchors, pressed ahead with making their fortune, quietening even those who were appalled at the murders on the ships.
'Do You Remember On The Slave Ship, How They Brutalised My Very Soul?'
For those who were captured and chained, the ordeal on board the ship reinforced the conditions of kidnap and the forced march to the coast. Africans were packed like sardines in the hold of the specially made ships, and large numbers died of suffocation. The space allotted to each slave measured five and a half feet in length and six inches in width. Slaves were chained two by two, right leg to left leg and right hand to left hand, and each slave had less room than a man in a coffin. The well publicised hold of the typical slave ship showed how closely packed were the chained Africans on shelves and rows. The slave Equiano, who has left a written record of his capture, gagging and terror, had this to say of the hold of the ship on which he travelled across the Atlantic:
"The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspiration, a variety of loathsome smells and brought a sickness amongst the slaves, of which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, as I may call it, of their purchase. This wretched situation was again aggravated by the gulling of the chains, now become insupportable, and the filth of the tubs into which the children often fell and were almost suffocated. The shrieks of the women and the groans of the dying reduced the whole to a scene of horror almost inconceivable."6
Equiano's narration of the atmosphere of the ship revealed the greed of those insurers and bankers who profited from this cargo. And yet, despite these chains, when the slaves were taken on deck for exercise they struck, undid the chains, hurled themselves against the crew in attempts at insurrection, and oftimes threw themselves overboard. It was on the ship that they cemented bonds of unity and solidarity, and they were strongly attached to those companions who had come with them on the same ship from Africa. The term 'shipmate' symbolised the first Pan-African sign of solidarity and unity which went towards resisting the oppressive conditions of the plantations.