Google celebrates Olaudah Equiano the Nigerian born slave whose story pushed for the abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom and it’s colonies, with a doodle in honour of what would have been his 272nd birthday.
If you open Google search today – October 16, wherever you are in the world you’ll be welcomed by the Google Doodle of a black slave abolitionist.
His name is Olaudah Equiano and Google is marking what would have been his 272nd birthday.
If you are wondering Olaudah what??? How is this relevant to anything that is happening today?
Well let me give you a brief history lesson, seeing as the Federal Government of Nigeria has stopped the teaching of history at our schools.
Olaudah Equiano was known as Gustavus Vassa for majority of his life. He was born in the Eboe area of Southern Nigeria and kidnapped with his sister at the age of 11 and taken to America to become a slave. He was later able to buy his freedom from his slave master and ended up in London, where he became one of the more prominent African fixtures of the 18th century. It was his autobiography chronicling his life as a slave that pushed for the end of slave trade in Britain.
Here are 17 facts we should ALL know about Olaudah Equiano.
1. Olaudah Equiano was born on October 16, 1745.
2. Kidnapped from his home at the age of 11. He was sold by local slave traders and shipped across the Atlantic to Barbados and then Virginia.
3. In Virginia he was sold to a lieutenant in the Royal Navy named Michael Pascal. It is Pascal who renamed him ‘Gustavus Vassa’ after the 16th-century Swedish king.
4. By the time he was sold to Pascal, he had already been renamed twice. Michael while on board the slave ship that took him to America; and then Jacob, by his first owner.
5. Olaudah Equiano travelled the oceans with Pascal for eight years. It was during this time he became a Christian and was baptised. He also learned to read and write.
6. When Pascal was done with him he sold Equiano to a ship captain in London, who took him to Montserrat, where he was then sold to a prominent merchant named Robert King.
7. King put him to work on his shipping routes and his stores, as a deckhand, barber and valet.
8. In 1765, at the age of 20, King promised Equiano that he could buy his freedom for £40 (now worth £6000).
9. In about three years, Equiano who was making money on the side from his jobs working with King, had managed to raise the money to buy his freedom from King.
10. He became a free man in 1767.
11. Equiano spent the next 20 years travelling the world, including trips to Turkey and the Arctic.
12. He ended up in London and in 1786, he became involved in the movement to abolish slavery. He was a prominent member of the ‘Sons of Africa’, a group of 12 black men who campaigned for abolition.
13. In 1789 he published his autobiography called – ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African’. It was his personal account of slavery and his experiences as a black immigrant. It caused a sensation on it’s release, causing many white readers to feel shame at the suffering he had endured.
14. The book added fuel to the fire of the anti-slavery movement in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.
15. Equiano’s autobiography, helped in the creation of the Slave Trade Act 1807 which ended the African trade for Britain and its colonies.
16. In 1792, Equiano married an Englishwoman, Susanna Cullen, and they had two daughters.
17. Equiano died on 31 March 1797.
These are the stories us as Nigerians should know.
These are the lessons that should be taught in our schools, to our kids.
Black people have suffered at the hands of the white man. I wish we would all realize the powers that we possess and stop letting white people think they are better than us.