Olaudah Equiano: A Great Man Who Walked The Earth
“I am neither a saint, a hero, nor a tyrant.”- Olaudah Equiano
The world recognises this day for two reasons. Today, nations, where slavery occurred, will gather to remember the “Victims of Slavery Remembrance”. In Nigeria, it is more personal. On this day in 1807, Britain, Nigeria’s colonial lord, prohibited subjects from the trafficking of slaves in Nigeria. One of the greatest authors who fought for its abolishment is Olaudah Equiano.
Olaudah Equiano was born Igbo in the ancient kingdom of Benin in 1745. Equiano is later kidnapped alongside his sister where they are separated at the age of 11. Soon after, he gets sold to travellers who sell him to a widow and thereafter “heathens” who will take him to a slave ship.
While in the US, he is named Jacob and works on a plantation alone. One day, he is sold to Michael Henry Pascal who rechristens him Gustavus Vassa.
At a point in his life, he takes on the job of a sailor to save to buy his freedom. He encounters the victimisation and inability to protect himself because of the limitations of his skin colour. Yet, he argued that Africans were not inferior to the Europeans because they also had their culture, language and customs. Again, he believed that the Jews and Igbos shared similarities.
The revered author of “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African” is regarded as being a campaigner of the abolition of the slave trade and was very instrumental in maintaining law and order among the Igbos in Jamaica during the 1776 Mosquito Shore Scheme.
So great was his impact that Google celebrated his birthday with a doddle.
To read on the Igbo Landing and the Brazilian Yorubas’ and the Jamaican Igbos’, visit here Guardian Life “Culture” category and catch up on Nigerian’s ancestors and their sojourn in other parts of the world.