– He was the African author whose autobiography exposed the realities of the slave trade.
– Today would have been his 272nd birthday.
– Google has decided to honor him.
Olaudah Equiano, the African writer (1746-1797) whose autobiography gave the world one of the first accounts of the effects of the slave trade has been celebrated by google for his impact in the abolition of the slave trade .
Born on the 16th of October, 1746 in Essaka, the Eboe province of Southern Nigeria. He and his sister got abducted by slave traders when he was just 11 years old and they were shipped along with 244 other captives to Barbados. They were later moved to Virginia.
He was sold to a Royal Navy officer, Lieutenant Michael Pascal who renamed him Gustavus. The Lieutenant was comparatively kind to him and educated him.
Then during the war that took place in France for seven years, he was employed to haul gunpowder to support cannon-fire during sea battles at the deck.
Then he was sold to captain James Doran, a London’s ship captain who set sail for Montserrat abroad the Charming Sally where he got sold again to a well-to-do Quaker merchant, from Philadelphia, Robert King.
He served as the valet of the king and even barber. He was allowed to make deals of his own and make a little money for himself. Combined with the sale of other things such as fruits and drinking glasses, he was able to buy his freedom from the king three years later.
He spent the next 20 years traveling around the world, visiting exotic places and also campaigning for the emancipation of his fellow slaves which was when he wrote the book. Some of them are: The interesting Narrative, Sold as a Slave and Le prince esclave.
His autobiography was told from the perspective of the victim and when it became published, it became a sensation that gained popularity among a lot of people in that era.
The book was able to play a role of alerting and enlightening the audiences in the eighteenth century about the sufferings, debasement and dehumanization of the black who were charted away to work for the whites.
The book inspired Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce and their fellow campaigners to draft the Slave Trade Act of 1807 which at the end of the day helped to abolish the human trafficking of Africans across the British Empire.
He confessed that freedom was difficult to adjust to and he wanted to commit suicide, but he found solace from his Methodist faith and his marriage to English wife, Susanna Cullen.
He and his family lived in Soham Cambridgeshire and he died in 1797.
His work is still revered and read even now as a masterpiece of the colonial period.