The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

6. Extremely scarce, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1837 edition). Captured far from the African coast when he was a boy of 11, Olaudah Equiano (1745 - 1797) was sold into slavery and later acquired his freedom. In 1789 Olaudah wrote his widely-read autobiography. The youngest son of a village leader, Equiano, was born among the Ibo people in the kingdom of Benin, along the Niger River. He was "the greatest favorite with [his] mother." His family expected him to follow in his father's footsteps and become a chief, an elder, and a judge. Slavery was integral to the Ibo culture, as it was with many other African peoples. His family owned slaves, but there was also a continual threat of being abducted or becoming someone else's slave. This is what happened, one day, while Equiano and his sister were at home alone. Two men and a woman captured the children. Several days later Equiano and his sister were separated. Equiano continued to travel farther and farther from home, day after day, month after month, exchanging masters along the way. Equiano's early experiences as a slave were not all disagreeable; some families treated Equiano almost as a part of the family. The kind treatment, however, was about to end.

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