Olaudah Equiano was not only an accomplished author but also the first black abolitionist. At the age of 11, He was captured by slave traders from his hometown in Isseke, present day Anambra State and sold into bondage to the British colony of Virginia.
He was forced to serve several masters, one of whom was a British Naval officer with whom he traveled between four continents. He was given the name Gustavus Vassa by one of his many owners, and he was also forced to serve several masters.
Because of these journeys, he was able to produce the most well-known and vivid slave narrative of his time period.
He purchased his freedom in the year 1777 at the age of 32, after having mastered reading, writing and arithmetic.
After relocating to England, he quickly rose to prominence as a key figure in the nascent anti-slavery movement.
He was responsible for presenting the British Parliament with one of the earliest petitions calling for the abolition of slavery.
When he was appointed to the post of Commissary for Stores to the Expedition for Freed Slaves in 1787, he made history by becoming the first person of African ancestry to hold a post in the British Government. He was also the first person to hold the post of Commissary for Stores. The nation known today as Sierra Leone was founded as a result of this endeavor.
He collaborated with some of the most prominent abolitionists in Britain to convince the Parliament to outlaw the slave trade.
In the year 1789, he penned his autobiography and had it published under the title The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa the African.
His story quickly became the first “best seller” written by a British author of African descent. The Prince of Wales, along with eight other dukes, was one of the individuals who purchased copies of his narrative. In addition to this, he went on a lecture tour throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland in order to promote his book, particularly among the increasing number of abolition committees that were formed as a result of the book.
In 1792, he tied the knot with an Englishwoman by the name of Susanna Cullen. The couple was blessed with two little girls.
Equiano passed away in the year 1797, which was ten years before the abolition of the slave trade and 36 years before the abolition of slavery by Parliament throughout the British Empire.