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White and Black People Cultural Relations Essay

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Updated: Apr 30th, 2020

A historical event is always seen differently by different people. It is but natural that people perceive information in a different way as they have their own background which affects the way they see things. It is possible to trace this difference through a brief analysis of people’s accounts on slavery. Writings of Captain Thomas Phillips and Nzinga Mbemba can be useful for this purpose. Analysis of these documents suggests that white people had specific views on black people while the latter also distrusted whites. Notably, they shared a lot of values and it is possible to trace certain cultural interchange.

In the first place, it is necessary to note that Africans and white invaders shared the same view on slavery. It was acceptable in both societies to capture people and trade them as if they were goods. The captain, who was brought up in the ‘civilized’ and Christian world with its values of equality of all, tried to get a good bargain and buy African slaves. At the same time, the king was not against slave trade and saw it as something usual. This can be explained by the fact that African tribes and kingdoms were often in the state of war and made prisoners of war their slaves.

Another similarity between the two authors is that they include certain example of cultural exchange in the letter. Thus, the African king appeals to Christian values and asks the Portuguese king to send educated doctors and priests. The captain is aware of certain peculiarities of Africans. For example, the way they trade and the way they try to preserve their freedom.

As far as differences in the writings are concerned, it is necessary to state that even though both persons were not against slavery; their views differed on one matter. To be more precise, the captain does not pay attention to the fact that noble men could be sold and focused on ‘quality’ of slaves bought. Nonetheless, the king asked the king of Portugal to make white people more responsible and avoid buying and selling noblemen into slavery which was “an obvious damage” to the king (Mbemba 621). This can be explained by the fact that for the captain all Africans were quite equal. They could be younger or they could be stronger. However, the captain recognized the king as a man of authority. For the African King, there was a particular hierarchy and he, as any other African, distinguished noblemen (who could not be slaves) and others (who could be sold and bought).

Apart from this, the captain did not concentrate on Africans’ sorrows and often regarded trade as something positive for slaves. Thus, the captain notes that Negroes often jump into water trying to escape and drown in the majority of cases. The captain seems to fail to understand why this happens as he believes that the conditions of slaves in the new lands are “much better there than in their own country” (Phillips 626). He comes to the conclusion that they are simply homesick as “home is home” (Phillips 626).

It is also noteworthy that branding causes “but little pain” (Phillips 625). Clearly, Captain Phillips could not empathize as he never experienced the same. He was never a slave and he was never branded or bitten for no reason. More so, he did not see white people branded or enslaved. Moreover, he takes into account diseases of Africans only as a matter of possible losses not as a cause of human beings’ suffering.

Nevertheless, the king knew sufferings of his people as he could talk to some of them and he saw what his land needed. The entire paper written by the king is devoted to the needs of Africans who required medicine, doctors, priests and educators. Obviously, the king knew this all as he was a part of that society and lived among those people.

Notably, both parties distrusted each other though the king’s letter contains little details on this matter. Captain Phillips stresses that African traders are “so cunning” (Phillips 625). The king does not explicitly says that he distrusts white people, but the fact that he asks the king to issue a law to forbid white people buy noblemen is very suggestive. Of course, the king could hardly say overtly about his real attitude towards white people as he understood the power of the Portuguese king who could destroy his entire kingdom.

In conclusion, it is important to note that such controversial issues as slavery need in-depth research which presupposes analysis of different sources written by all the stakeholders. Of course, if people had written resources of white people, it could led to the belief that it was absolutely normal to trade slaves and there was no other viewpoint on the matter.

The king’s letter provides insights into the African society and gives reasons why Africans were sold. The two letters also shed light on the way different groups of people interacted and the way cultural exchange was going on. Of course, the more sources a historian studies the more complete picture he/she will have. Therefore, it is essential to analyze lots of documents and, on the basis of this analysis; it is possible to come to conclusions.

Works Cited

Mbemba, Nzinga. “Appeal to the King of Portugal, 1526.” World of History, Volume II: Since 1400. Ed. Kevin Reilly. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 620-623. Print.

Phillips, Thomas. “Buying Slaves in 1693.” World of History, Volume II: Since 1400. Ed. Kevin Reilly. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. 623-627. Print.

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