The Interesting Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano
(Written by Olaudah Equiano, 1789)
Olaudah Equiano’s memoir is among a handful few of surviving first-hand accounts of the Trans-Antlantic Slave trade. Born in the Kingdom of Benin (modern-day Nigeria) around the year 1745, Equiano was born free, but was captured, sold, and enslaved as a young child. Being transported as a child from Africa to the Caribbean, and then numerous trips back-and-forth between the Caribbean to the American South throughout his life, Equiano developed impressive skills as a seaman and merchant that would eventually allow him to make enough money to purchase his own freedom.
The treacherous heft and brutal inhumanity of European/American chattel slavery fill every page of Equiano’s life story. Notably, Equiano’s slave narrative is unique because he was mostly a personal assistant as opposed to a field worker. This elevated stature allowed Equiano to eventually become a renowned abolitionist and advocate for the rights of enslaved Africans.
The success of his memoir allowed him to purchase his freedom and become an international sensation, and he used his rights as a freeman to help house and educate any enslaved person he met.