When Olaudah Equiano and his sister woke up in the morning they never thought that they would be separated. Soldiers came into their house during the day and took them away from their parents. Olaudah and his sister did not not know where they were being taken. They walked for a very long time until they got to a big ship. They took Olaudah from his sister, and he did not know whether he would see her again.

Olaudah, who was 11 years old at the time, had grown up in Eboe which is now Nigeria. Around 1754 Olaudah and 244 other people were taken from their homes and put on a slave ship where he knew no-one. It was a terrifying experience as many people were injured and many of them died. He was convinced that the people who took him and his sister were evil spirits and that he was in hell. The ship travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados in the West Indies where he was sold as a slave.

From there, he and many other slaves were sent to the then British colony of Virginia which is now the State of Virginia in the United States of America. One day when Oluadah was being transported, he met his sister. The meeting was very short and Oluadah never saw his sister again. This added to the sadness that he carried his whole life right up until he was no longer a slave, and had his own family. For he saw a lot of other slaves being separated from their families whenever the ships reached places where slaves were to be sold.

Oluadah was bought by Michael Pascal, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and became Oludah’s Master. Micheaele Pascal changed Oluadah’s name to Gustavus Vassa. In his book, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789), he mentions how in Virginia, slaves were treated cruelly and were very unhappy. They were beaten so badly that sometimes they were not able to speak or eat. Oluadah began to hate himself and sometimes washed his face so hard to try and change the colour of his skin.

Pascal took Oluadah with him when he left Virginia and travelled to England. Although Oludah was a slave, his master trained him to be a sailor. He even sent Oludah to live with his sister-in- law so that he could go to school and learn how to read and write. At school he learnt how to speak English very well and even became a Christian.

In 1765 he was sold to another master called Robert King. His new master helped him to continue going to school. He taught Oluadah all about business; how to sell fruit, glass tumblers and other things that would help Oluadah to learn about business. After becoming educated, Oluadah was able to buy his freedom and not be a slave anymore.

In 1767, after becoming free, he travelled around the world to places like Arctic, South and Central America before finally settling in the United Kingdom. Eventually, he went back to England, where he continued to work at sea.

During this time he decided that he wanted to help other slaves. He heard about a group of people who were fighting to stop slavery. He joined the group and was able to tell people about how terrible it was being a slave. A lot of people were very interested in his story and asked him to write a book about what had happened to him. He later wrote a book which was called “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano”. He was the first slave to ever write a book about his life as a slave. At the time slaves were not allowed to read and write, so to be able to speak English and to write a book was amazing.

In 1772, Olaudah met a young woman called Susannah Cullen. They fell in love, got married and later had two children. Sadly, in 1796 his wife Susannah died. Despite the sadness of losing his wife, Olaudah continued fighting against slavery. He was very happy to be a freeman but wanted other people to be free as well. Unfortunately, in 1797, when he was 52, (age) Olaudah became sick and died. Early in the following century, slavery was abolished.