Olaudah Equiano (Gustavas Vassa) was born
in a small village right below the equator, in the province of Essaka in the Kingdom of Benin. All the members of his village
were farmers, they had no social discrimination. Slaves in his village were
prisoners of war, men or women, who were considered part of the village. They were
not given special treatment, they worked shoulder to shoulder in the fields and to their
masters they were part of their own family.
At the age of twelve, Olaudah along with
his sister, were kidnapped and taken to South Africa. Olaudah worked with several
masters during his time in South Africa before he was set on a ship headed to
Barbados. He was able to see his sister once before he set off, never again to make
contact with any member of his family. On his voyage to the new world he confirmed
all the stories he had heard about white men, devils and evil spirits who's' only purpose
was to kill Blacks.
He was overwhelmed by the amount of
suffering he saw around him during his months aboard the slave ship. Slaves were
forced to live under conditions unfit for any living being, small children drowning in a
tub of human waste, pain and suffering so unbearable they choked on every breath, the ship
arrived in Barbados. They sold a
few slaves and then moved on to Virginia
where Olaudah was sold.
With his new master Olaudah traveled to
England, and was involved in many important historical battles. From Canada to
Gibraltar, Olaudah sailed the seven seas. Eventually he was sold again. During
his years with his previous master he became quite fond of England, he came to consider it
his home. He was sold to a rich man from Monserrat, yet even after spending many
years on the island he never quite lost hope of going back to England. Eventually,
Olaudah was able to buy his freedom from his master and move back to England.
Revised: July 18, 2013.