Many Nigerians and people of African descent opened Google Doodle today to be very surprised by what they saw. The hero of today’s Doodle is Olaudah Equiano, one of the most prominent fighters against the slave trade. Find out more about Olaudah Equiano right now!
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1. Olaudah Equiano biography
The hero of this day’s Google Doodle was not always known as Olaudah Equiano – that was his birth name that he adopted again later in life, but for most of his biography he was known as Gustavus Vassa.
There have been disputes over Equiano’s place of birth, with some scholars suggesting he was born in America. However, according to most sources and Olaudah Equiano, he was born in Benin, Nigeria in 1745, and kidnapped and sold into slavery with his sister when he was just 11 years old.
Olaudah was sold to a Royal Navy lieutenant named Michael Pascal, and this is where Equiano’s travels began – he spent 8 years traveling with Pascal, visiting many faraway lands, adopting Christianity and learning to read and write in the process.
When he was 23 years old, Olaudah Equiano was able to buy his freedom for £40, which would be £6,000 in the present day. He spent the next 20 years doing more travels, this time visiting places as distant as the Arctic and Turkey.
By 1786, Equiano had settled in London, becoming involved in the anti-slavery movement. He was a vital part of the Sons of Africa movement, which fought for the abolition of slavery. Olaudah Equiano died on March 31, 1797.
2. Olaudah Equiano family
During the first 40 years of his life, Equiano was focused on his social work and travels, but after living for several years in London, he married an Englishwoman named Susanna Cullen. Together they had two daughters, Joanna and Anna Maria Vassa.
Susanna died just over a year before Olaudah, and their younger daughter Anna Maria died the following year, leaving Joanna the only surviving member of the family. Joanna got married at the age of 26 and died at 61, although it’s unclear whether she had any children.
3. Olaudah Equiano book
One of the most essential Olaudah Equiano facts is his book, which served as one of the first honest portrayals of the life as a slave. The book was called “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano“, and it made a huge impact on the British society at the time.
It needs to be said that while Equiano’s experience as a slave was rather different to what most other slaves had to go through – namely, he was never involved in field work and was a personal servant of his owners, learning to read, write, and make trades – that experience resonated with the people who had gone through slavery.
In his book, Olaudah Equiano not only described the hardships of being an African slave, but also the difficulties that freed slaves had to face in their everyday lives: for example, the danger of being kidnapped and sold back into slavery.
Equiano’s work became a bestselling book and allowed the author to do more for the abolition of slavery. He traveled around the country, giving lectures about slavery and calling for its abolition. Olaudah Equiano was and remains one of the most influential figures of the anti-slavery movement, and that is exactly why he was honored by today’s Google Doodle.
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