Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797)

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Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745 – 31 March 1797) also known as Gustavus Vassa, was a prominent African involved in the British movement for the abolition of the slave trade. He was enslaved as a child in his home town of Essaka in what is now southern Nigeria, shipped to the West Indies, moved to England, and successfully purchased his freedom. Throughout his life Equiano worked as an author, a seafarer, merchant, hairdresser, and explorer in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Arctic, the American colonies, and the United Kingdom, where he settled by 1792. His autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, depicts the horrors of slavery and influenced the enactment of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.In his account, Equiano gives details about his hometown Essaka and the laws and customs of the Igbo people (written Eboe), he also gave description of some of the communities he passed through as he was forced to the coast. His biography details his voyage on a slave ship, the brutality of slavery in the West Indies, Virginia, and Georgia, and the disenfranchisement of freed people of colour (including kidnap and enslavement) in these same places. Equiano was particularly attached to his Christian faith which he embraced in 1759 and is a recurring theme in his autobiography; he identified as a Protestant of the Church of England. Several events in his life drew him to question his faith, as well as almost losing it completely after a black cook named John Annis was kidnapped from a ship in England and then tortured on the island of Saint Kitts.As a free man, Equiano's life was still filled with stresses and even had suicidal thoughts before he became a born again Christian and found peace in his faith. Earlier in his freedom, he resolved never to visit the West Indies or the Americas again because of the brutality about, but was drawn back there because of his duties to various captains. Later in his life, Equiano married an English woman named Susannah Cullen and had two children. He died in 1797; the exact location of his gravesite is unknown, although there are plaques commemorating his life lived in buildings around London. There have been efforts in Nigeria to find about his birthplace and home town, Essaka.

Source: dbpedia

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