Olaudah Equiano

(1745-1797) was born in Nigeria and taken into slavery at the age of ten. He first arrived in Great Britain in 1757. He bought his freedom in 1766. Employed as a sailor, he travelled widely, visiting the Americas, Canada and the Mediterranean.

In 1789 he published 'The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavas Vassa the African'. This book provides a unique insight into the slave trade. It is the only written account of the middle passage from a black point of view, and at the time presented the case against slavery to a wider reading public. A personal history, it documents the effect of slavery on the individual. It gives an understanding of the period, a vision of justice, a view of respect and a perception of diversity. It is a history which has been hidden and obscured by a constructed stereotype.

Equiano travelled across Britain with his book, which proved an important contribution to the abolitionist movement, and had profound political implications on the black political position.

I was named Olaudah, which in our language signifies vicissitude or fortunate.