The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano Or Gustavus Vassa, The African

 
9781428042766: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano Or Gustavus Vassa, The African
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He was born, he tells us in his Interesting Narrative of his life, in Essaka, a small village in what is today eastern Nigeria that was ruled by the powerful eighteenth century King of Benin. His parents prophetically named him Olaudah Equiano, to signify his expected role as a leader-as one favored and who spoke with a loud voice. They dressed him after the tradition of their greatest warriors. Through age ten or eleven he was rooted in the cultural, spiritual, economic, religious and political customs of this charming fruitful vail, which he describes as 'a nation of dancers, musicians, and poets.'

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An exciting and often terrifying adventure story, and a precursor to the famous nineteenth-century slave narratives, Equiano's narrative recounts his kidnapping in Africa aged ten, his service as a slave of an officer in the British Navy for ten years, and his life after he bought his freedom in 1766, growing to become one of the foremost figures of the anti-slavery movement in Britain. This true story is a spirited autobiography, a tale of spiritual quest and fulfillment and a sophisticated treatise on religion, politics and economics.

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First African and then Western slave traders brought his Edenic childhood experiences to an end. Kidnapped, he was taken away from the womb-like Gemeinshaft and his father's compound in which he had been favored and nurtured. Commodified, he was placed in the hold of a slave ship for the brutal journey through the Middle Passage to the 'New World,' where the ultimate symbol of his status were the various names he was given by slave masters whose 'ownership' of him empowered them to desecrate his name.

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