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Olaudah Equiano (1745–1797)

Teoksen The Life of Olaudah Equiano tekijä

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One of the most remarkable figures in the history of African literature is Olaudah Equiano, who is also known as Gustavus Vassa. He was born into an Igbo community that he called Essaka, or most probably Isieke, in what is now the Ihiala local government area of the Anambra State of Nigeria. näytä lisää Captured and sold into slavery at the age of 12, he was taken to the West Indies. There he was resold to a British naval officer who helped him acquire an education and some nautical experience. When Equiano was beginning to consider himself a free man, he was unexpectedly sold again to a Philadelphia trader, for whom he undertook business trips to the West Indies. These trips enabled Equiano to make enough money to buy his freedom. As a free man, Equiano continued his vocation as a sailor and traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. He eventually joined the abolitionist movement in Great Britain, where he settled down as a respectable African European, married an English woman, and had two children. Equiano moved in high social circles, wrote and spoke frequently in various public media on abolition issues, and petitioned the British Parliament on the evils of slavery. But by far his most important contribution to the abolition movement was his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself, which was first published in London in 1789. Not only was The Interesting Narrative an eloquent diatribe against the evils of slavery; its early chapters presented a thoroughly idyllic picture of the culture, social life, and geographical environment of his Igbo home, which he describes as "a charming, fruitful vale." In the autobiography, Equiano refutes the detractions of African peoples in European and oriental literatures, religious dogmas, and philosophical and ethnographic writings. He emerges as the first spokesperson of pan-African nationalism, black consciousness, negritude, and a whole range of other contemporary African and African American intellectual movements. The Narrative is a mixture of factual ethnographic and historical details, debatable assertions, and outright fallacies; it is as mystifying as it is revealing. So powerful is its eighteenth-century rhetorical style that, despite the assertion in its title that it was "written by himself," few of his white contemporaries were convinced that such elegant prose and humane sentiments could be written by an African. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän
Image credit: This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired in the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.

Tekijän teokset

Associated Works

Slave Narratives (2000) — Avustaja; Avustaja — 320 kappaletta
The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume 1 (1990) — Avustaja, eräät painokset255 kappaletta
American Captivity Narratives (New Riverside Editions) (2000) — Avustaja — 61 kappaletta
Great Slave Narratives (1969) — Tekijä — 58 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla


Muut nimet
Vassa, Gustavus
Weston, Gustavus
Whitefield's Tabernacle, Tottenham Court Road, London, England, UK
Kingdom of Dahomey
Maa (karttaa varten)
Essaka, Kingdom of Dahomey (now Nigeria)
London, England, UK
Essaka, Kingdom of Dahomey (now Nigeria)
Virginia, British America
London, England
Mosquito Coast (näytä kaikki 8)
Soham, Cambridgeshire, England, UK
Sierra Leone
plantation manager
Sons of Africa
London Corresponding Society
Lyhyt elämäkerta
Olaudah Equiano was born to a noble family in the African kingdom of Benin in approximately 1745.   While still a boy, he was kidnapped, enslaved, and taken to the West Indies.   For the next eleven years he traveled from the Americas to Europe and through the Caribbean.  After being freed in 1767, he moved to London, became an active abolitionist, and helped freed slaves settle in the African colony of Sierra Leone.  In 1789 he published his best-selling autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African which served as the model for many later writers, including Frederick Douglass.  He died in England in 1797, survived by his wife, Susanna Cullen, and their two daughters.  [from The Kidnapped Prince , an adaptation of his autobiography by Ann Cameron. (2005)]



Okay... This was brilliant. Equiano (Vassa?) is an utterly fascinating historical figure and man, and his story is thrilling. Sold into slavery as a child, Equiano, by the providence of God, was spared the brutality of North American farm labor and consequential obscurity. Bought by a smattering of high-ranking British captains, Equiano was taught to read, allowed to practice Christianity, and generally live a very free life (not counting some particularly bad owners), eventually buying his freedom and continuing his journey around the world. He charts his adventures traveling the world, the many injustices he must encounter, and the Christianity that was his bedrock. You just feel with him.

There is a lot of heartbreak in this account. How could there not? One thing I will recognize informs my high esteem of this story is the religious tone it uses. Equiano was what we'd call a true believer, and it's one more layer of interesting given the broader imperialism of Christianity. I implore the less religiously inclined to not fault him; I think it is incredibly dehumanizing to question this too much. His Christianity gave him strength, gave him a strong moral compass to battle for the abolition of the slave trade, and allowed him many great connections in a world where being black could be so tenuous. His Christianity was truly beautiful and made me yearn for church once more—Crazy how good, upstanding people can convert, no?

On a side note, the more I read 18th-century writing, the more I really think the period of the 1770s-1790s was the pinnacle of the written English word. The command of language Equiano employs is exquisite and commanding, and really quite arresting when relaying his life. It's a bit similar to how Du Bois' utilizes language a century later—both men show the "mental faculties" so many suppose they can't have on account of their skin.

Anyway, I can't recommend this enough. It's just... amazing. Equiano is a fascinating man caught between two worlds, and while his 18th-century Britishness can raise an eyebrow sometimes, it illustrates the breadth of thought of the period. I just spent an hour on York University's webpage about him, and I can't get enough. Ah!
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Eavans | 6 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 29, 2023 |
Hakim Adi's selection of writings about Britain (mainly England) by Black people of the late 18th to the early 20th century is carefully chosen to establish their presence in all strata of society at a date earlier than certain commentators would wish it known. There's a thread showing the development of abolitionism into emancipation into supremacism to justify the continued exploitation of Black Labour, and Adi's selections often strongly resonate with current issues, such as the Windrush scandal and the illegal Tory Rwanda deportation policy.

There's also many fascinating glimpses into Georgian and Victorian society and, while varying degrees of racism are noted, many of the impressions of visitors to the island are positive about their reception and of the culture in which they find themselves.

A nuanced and balanced selection of historical testimonies which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, not least the short section on John Ocansey's day trip from Liverpool to my home town of Southport 🏖️
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Michael.Rimmer | Jul 12, 2023 |
Kidnapped at the age of 11 from his home in Benin, Africa, Olaudah Equiano spent the next 11 years as a slave in England, the U.S., and the West Indies, until he was able to buy his freedom. His autobiography, published in 1789, was a bestseller in its own time. Cameron has modernized and shortened it while remaining true to the spirit of the original. It's a gripping story of adventure, betrayal, cruelty, and courage. In searing scenes, Equiano describes the savagery of his capture, the appalling conditions on the slave ship, the auction, and the forced labor. . . . Kids will read this young man's story on their own; it will also enrich curriculum units on history and on writing.

-Amazon description
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CDJLibrary | 1 muu arvostelu | Jun 9, 2023 |
Olaudah Equiano (?-1707) was kidnapped from his home in Nigeria in 1745, brought to Virginia on a slave ship,
then sold to a British Naval Captain. They sailed to England where Olaudah went to school in London.

Captain then sold him to a Quaker and he bought his freedom.

During his life he was over and over betrayed by his former maste and other white menr as they traveled the ocean and back

He submitted his written Narrative to the Queen.

He worked hard to abolish slavery, describing to all who would listen in England
all that he had witnessed of the
"...tortures, murders, and every other imaginable barbarity..."

(Still not sure why he never learned to swim when he spent so much of his life at sea.)
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
m.belljackson | 6 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 14, 2022 |



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