Yesterday, Google’s Doodle celebrated Olaudah Equiano. Some of you may be asking, who is this person? Well, Mr Equiano was an African writer and freed slave who supported the movement to end the slave trade in England.
In 1789, he published his autobiography which helped create the Slave Trade Act 1807. This act ended the African trade for Britain and its colonies.
Equiano was born in 1745 and died in 1797. Throughout his life, Olaudah identified as Gustavus Vassa and was part of the Sons of Africa group. This group was an abolitionist group of prominent Africans living in Britain at the time.
His autobiography was titled The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. In it was the depiction of the horrors of slavery that many people faced. It helped form and pass the British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which made African Slave Trade illegal.
He married an English woman called Susannah Cullen when he settled in London, the couple had two daughters. Although his death was recognised in both British and American newspapers, his gravesite is unknown.
He only used his African name Olaudah Equiano, when writing his autobiography, he used the name Vassa throughout his life. During the American Revolution, Britain enticed slaves of rebel owners to fight for the British army. Once the war was over Britain guaranteed the freedom of these slaves in England.
Equiano became heavily involved with helping the ‘Black Poor of London’, who were these freed slave soldiers. His autobiography was the first influential slave narrative which later became a large literary genre.
His experience of being a slave was different than that of the norm: he didn’t work in fields, he served his owners personally, went to sea with them and was taught to read and write.