Olaudah Equiano: Writer Of The First Slave Narrative

Olaudah Equiano
Emeka Ochiagha
July 23, 2021

Olaudah Equiano was 11 when the white men came. He’d loved his life in the small, tight-knit village in present day Nigeria – but it was all stripped from him when the slavers came.

First they took him to the West Indies, and then they shipped him to America – where he was sold to a sea captain. 

Equiano, disgusted and terrified by enslavement, knew that the world needed to hear his story. They needed to know about the cruelty. But how?

He educated himself despite enslavement, and eventually bought his freedom. Equiano then moved to Britain, and it was there that he wrote the first book of its kind: the “slave narrative.” It exposed slavery for what it was – and transformed the institution.

His book was an instant success, and the first edition sold out almost immediately. Translated into many languages, it opened eyes across the world. It was even a contributing factor in the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which officially banned the slave trade in Britain.

Equiano was able to convey the horrific realties of slavery with honesty and reflect that back into the world. We must also continue to create language to discuss anti-Black violence and the realities of our lives. Telling the truth matters!

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