Olaudah Equiano was not just an ordinary writer. His work was written with so much detail about his experience as a slave and his accomplishments.
He has produced many different narratives about himself and about his experiences through work to end slave trading. Equiano positively changed the world with bravery and courage as reflected in his literature. Merchants came to America pursuing to find spices and gold, but found something even more valuable to them. Human trafficking became known as the Atlantic slave trade that started in the 15th century. Africans were unwillingly taken from their homes and most popularly sent to work in mines and on plantations. Soon other countries started joining in. The amount of slaves taken to the Americas from Africa was around 15 million. The slave trade would last close to 400 years; a nightmare that can never be forgotten.
(Newberry Library) Olaudah Equiano would endure slavery, starting in the 1750s. In 1745, Equiano was born in Nigeria and was part of a tribe named Ibo, which was located in the Kingdom of Benin. Young Equiano and his sisters were kidnapped by white men when he was only 11. His sisters and him were separated and he was thrown onto a slave ship in 1757. (Tejvan Pettinger)On the ship, he saw many other Africans who had been tortured, and chained up. According to his narratives, the ship smelled awful causing him to lose his appetite. “I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything.” (Olaudah Equiano 73) If the men did not eat or follow orders, they would be beaten.
If dead, the white men would throw the mangled bodies overboard. (Olaudah Equiano 75) With the ship taking off from Nigeria, he was taken to the Barbados where he spent some time working. Next, he was shipped to Virginia where his job was to pick up stones and weed the grass.
Still being at the age of 12, he was bought by a man named Michael Pascal who was a naval captain. Pascal brought him to England where he renamed him to Gustavus Vassa and taught him to do arithmetic, read, and write. Pascal took Equiano on training vessels and warships while traveling the waters. He provided for Pascal at naval campaigns in Canada and then in the Mediterranean. A naval campaign is a series of operations run by naval forces and other troops to continue to take control over the sea.
(Free Dictionary) Equiano even took part in battle with Pascal at the time of the Seven Years’ War. (East of England Broadband Network) The Seven Years’ War took place from 1754 to 1763. It was a war among Great Britain and France. The war resolved with the Treaty of Paris. (United States Department of State)Pascal had so much respect for Equiano, basically treating him like family, he told him that he would help him become free. Pascal astonishingly didn’t keep his promise.
In 1763, Equiano was sold to a man named James Doran. Doran was the captain of the Charming Sally, a ship that carried slaves. Doran was very inhumane to Equiano, so Pascal ordered him to sell Equiano to a man named Robert King.
King was a Quaker Merchant that had his own storehouses in Philadelphia and had part of a mercantile house in the city. King respected and treated Equiano amazingly. He had faith and appreciated King. King didn’t just encourage Equiano to become free, he loaned him money so that Equiano could establish that objective. King hired him on a large number of his mercantile travels later when Equiano acquired his freedom. (Grade Saver) In Equiano’s later life, he worked in the West Indies for a while and then moved to London. In England, year 1777, he was employed by the England government when becoming an abolitionist.
His job was to help poor Africans in London. (Jim Dexheimer) In 1786, he became part of group of 12 black men who had an operation for abolition. The group was called the ‘Sons of Africa’. (BBC) Olaudah Equiano’s writing was very detailed and showed a lot of depth of what happened to him in his life. His first book that led to more writings was The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African.
(Newberry Library) The book had been so popular that in 1789 it was translated into Dutch, Russian, German, and English. (Encyclopaedia Britannica) It was one of the primal books that has been released by an African author. He traveled broadly to promote this writing. Since becoming popular, he became prosperous and kindly used his funds to help with the cause for the abolitionist. (BBC) He transformed into a famous public speaker who expressed his feelings on abolishing slavery. (English Online) In 1792, he settled down and married a woman named Susannah Cullen.
They had two daughters, Johanna and Anna Maria. Sadly, at 4 years old, Anna Maria died. (Patrick Vernon) Olaudah Equiano died on March 31st, 1797.
He was a greatly appreciated man who was able to conquer all of the bumps that he had in his travel through life. His story that he told throughout his writings assisted to understand what it was like to be misunderstood and to be treated inhumanely. Equiano was a true heroin for positively changing the world through his literature.