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BNW-Olaudah-Equiano-Gustavus-Vassa.jpg (18270 bytes)

GUSTAVUS VASSA

ABOLITIONIST (1745-1801)

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.