Olaudah Equiano was born in 1745 in Nigeria that used to be called Eboe. He was kidnapped and sold to slave traders when he was about eleven. The traders took the boy to the West Indies. Though Equiano witnessed the sale of slaves, he was not purchased. He stayed with the Dutch ship instead, traveling to North America. Most of the time in slavery Equiano spent serving the captains of ships and British navy vessels. In North America, he was purchased to work on a Virginia plantation and, in some time, he was purchased by Michael Henry Pascal and taken to England, a captain of a merchant ship. His new masters gave Equiano another name — Gustavus Vassa, which he used during all his life, though his autobiography he decided to publish under his real African name.
During the voyage to England, Equiano started being friends with Robert Baker, a white American boy. Their friendship lasted for two years until Baker’s death. In England, Equiano was exposed to Christianity. He started attending church and receiving instruction from Robert. Equiano found it easy to follow the European culture, though initially, he considered it strange and frightening.
Equiano traveled extensively and visited different parts of the world, including Holland, England, Nova Scotia, Gibraltar, Scotland, the Caribbean, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
In 1763, Robert King purchased Equiano. The new master was a Quaker merchant and he used Equiano to serve as a clerk and for working on King's trading sloops. Equiano could save some money because he was allowed to be engaged in minor trade exchanges. It was not easy because buying and selling fruit and goods by him caused insults and setbacks from white buyers. They refused to pay for goods or demanded a fraudulent refund. King encouraged him to buy his freedom, which only cost 40 pounds sterling money (the same price paid by King for his slave). Equiano became free in 1766.
In 1767, he settled in England, went to school and start working as an assistant of Dr. Charles Irving, a scientist. Equiano travelled a lot, visiting such countries as Turkey, Italy, Portugal, Jamaica, Grenada, and North America. Together with Irving, he joined a polar expedition in 1773. The aim of the expedition was to find a northeast passage from Europe to Asia. In 1789, Gustavus Vassa published his autobiography as a two-volume work. There were several editions of his work during his lifetime. In 1792, he married Susanna Cullen. They had two daughters. Equiano died in 1797 in London.
Olaudah Equiano was born in 1745 in Nigeria that used to be called Eboe. He was kidnapped and sold to slave traders when he was about eleven. The traders took the boy to the West Indies. Though Equiano witnessed the sale of slaves, he was not purchased. He stayed with the Dutch ship instead, traveling to North America.