Olaudah Equiano, later to be known as (Gustavus Vassa) was born in what is today, Nigeria. Kidnapped from his African village at the age of eleven, and sold to a Virginia planter.
He was later bought by a British naval Officer, Captain Pascal, as a present for his cousins in London.
Equiano bought his freedom after ten years of enslavement throughout the North American continent, where he assisted his merchant slave master and worked as a seaman.
At the age of forty four he wrote and published his autobiography, ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African. Written by Himself,’ He registered it at Stationer’s Hall, London, in 1789.
More than two centuries later, this work is recognised not only as one of the first works Published in England by an African.
Equiano recalls his childhood in Essaka, where he was adorned in the tradition of the “greatest warriors.”
He is unique in his recollection of traditional African life before the advent of the European slave trade.
Equiano was extremely well travelled for his time. He not only traveled throughout the Americas, Turkey and the Mediterranean; but also participated in major naval battles during the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War). He also took part in the search for a Northwest passage led by the Philips expedition of 1772-1773.
Equiano also records his central role, along with Granville Sharpe, in the British Abolitionist Movement.
As a major voice in this movement, Equiano petitioned the Queen of England in 1788.
He was appointed commissary of provisions and stores to the expedition to resettle London’s poor Blacks in Sierra Leone, a British colony on the west coast of Africa.
Read Equiano’s book