Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano, a prominent African figure, who fought against slave trade, was born in Essaka, an Igbo village in the kingdom of Benin in 1745. He is best known for his significant contribution in abolishing the slave trade through the Slave Trade Act of 1807. He worked with Granvile Sharpe and Thomas Clarkson and encouraged people, very often through speeches in front of large gatherings, to emancipate the slave trade.

In 1789, Equiano published his own autobiography, The Life of Olaudah Equiano the African, which was published in Germany in 1790, America in 1791 and Holland in 1791 and this book became the bestseller with 1900 copies. He spent more than eight months in Ireland and gave several speeches on the cruelty as well as the evils of the slave trade.

Equiano married Susanna Cullen on 7th April 1792 and they had two children, named Anna Maria, who died at the age of four, and Johanna. He also became an intimate friend of Thomas Hardy, the secretary of the London Corresponding Society. He was an active member of this group and campaigned in favour of universal suffrage. He was also appointed to the voyage to settle former black slaves in Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa. Later on 31st March 1797, he died at Paddington Street, Marylebone, before the completion of the task.

After his death, he remained forgotten for a considerably long time, for over a century. In 1960, an African scholar rediscovered his biography, which was largely sold in Britain, Africa and North America. In 2005, his biography was again published by Vincent Carretta under the name of Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-made Man.