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A Brief Introduction Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano was famous by another name Gustavus Vasa, he was a famous writer and abolitionist who was born in the region of the kingdom of Benin. In his childhood, he was taken to the Caribbean and there he was sold as a slave to an officer of the Royal Navy. He was sold twice after that but ultimately, he was able to purchase his freedom in 1766. He supported the British abolitionist movement. He became part of the Sons of Africa which was an abolitionist group which was composed of Africans living in Britain and he became an active leader of the anti-slave trade movement of 1780. The author published his autobiography known as “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, from which it can be possible to get an idea about the terrific life the slaves had to spend during their slavery. The book has nine editions and helped to get past of the British slave trade act of 1807 and abolished the slave trade. He got married to an English woman named Susannah Cullen and he had two daughters. This eminent author died in the year 1797. After his death, he became one of the most known individuals on whom several research studies have been conducted by many scholars.

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History of Olaudah Equiano 

Michael Henry Pascal bought Equiano in Virginia where he changed the name of Equiano to Gustavus Vasa but he refused to accept this name as he had also been renamed twice before this and he insisted that he should be known as Jacob. On refusal, Equiano stated that gained me many a cuff and eventually he was submitted to the new name. for the rest of his life, he used his name, and this name is also recorded in all the official records even in his autobiography he used the name Equiano.


Pascal took Equiano with him when he returned to England and had him as a valet at the time of seven years’ war with France. Equiano acted as a commentator for siege of Louisburg the battle of Lagos and the capture of Belle Lle. He also gets training in seamanship where it is expected from Equiano to assist the crew of the ship during the time of battle. He used to haul gunpowder to the gun decks. Equiano had been favoured by pascal who sent him to his sister in laws place to ensure that Equiano could attend school and take the basic education.


On February 1759 Equiano converted himself to Christianity and was baptised at St Margaret’s Westminster where he was described as a black born in Carolina.


Equiano settled in London and in 1780 he joined the abolitionist movement. The movement was made mainly to abolish the trading slavery and particularly strong among the quakers, but the society for affecting the abolition of the salve trade which was founded in the year 1787 as a non-denominational group, as the Anglican members tried to influence the parliamentary directly. The individuals who are prepared to get the sacrament of the lord’s supper as per the rites of the church of England were allowed to serve as MP ‘s under the test act. Equiano has been highly influenced by George Whitefield’s evangelism.


During the period of 1783 abolitionist like Granville sharp has been informed by Equiano about the practice of slavery that year he was the first to tell sharp about Zong massacre which was being practiced in London as litigation for insurance claims. This became one of the major reason for the popularity of the abolitionist movement.


Equiano on 1785 became one of the eight delegates from Africa in America to present and address of thanks to the quakers at a meeting in the grace church street London. He was befriended and supported by abolitionist many of whom who encouraged them to write and publish his autobiography. This famous abolitionist has been financially supported in this effort of philanthropy and religious benefactors. His books and lectures were promoted by countess of Huntingdon and Selina Hastings.


His book has been published in nine editions it is one of the most known books written by an African writer which is widely read in England. The book became a best seller in 1792 and the book was published in Russia, holland, Germany and in united states. This book became the fits influential slave narrative which became a popular literary work of the world. However, the experience of Equiano was different from that of most of the slaves in the world he has the opportunity to not to do field work he mostly do the personal work of his owner and went to sea for which he get the opportunity to get education and that helped hi later when he became a famous writer. His personal life of slavery his journey of advancement and his experience as a black immigrant which became a sensation when it came in the form of a book. The book became one of the main reasons of motivation for the anti-slavery movement in Great Britain, Europe and in all over the world. He surprised the world with his extraordinary literature and presentation of his life as slave. In his book Equiano give entire description of his hometown and the laws and customs of the people of Africa. After he has been captured as a boy, he gives the description of his life in captivity he also described the journey when he passed the coast in the captivity.


The critics of the book claimed that the book demonstrated the full and complex life of the Africans and the inhuman slavery rules. This book has been considered as one of the best examples of English literature by any new African writer. Equiano has impressed so much by this book that he achieved independence from his benefactors from the finance that is raised from the sale of the book. Although his life this writer always worked for the economic social and educational condition of Africa.

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