On the slave ship, Equiano and many others began to discover that they were Igbo. In Equiano’s village and indeed throughout the interior, the term “Igbo” was not a term of self-understanding or identity. Rather, according to Chinua Achebe, “Igbo” was originally “a word of abuse; they were the ‘other’ people, down in the bush.” “Igbo” was an insult, a designation that someone was an outsider to the village. Equiano himself suggested this contemptuous meaning when he called the Aro “Oye-Eboe.” But on the slave ship, everyone was outside the village, and broader similarities suddenly began to outweigh local differences. Cultural commonalities, especially language, would obviously be crucial to cooperation and community. Igbo, like other African ethnicities, was in many ways a product of the slave trade.

– Marcus Rediker, The Slave Ship: A Human History (2007)


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