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(1745- 177)

The interesting narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vasa tells a richly detailed story of seagoing adventure, spiritual enlightenment, and economic success in England and the Americas. Equiano’s autobiography was the most influential work of English prose by an African American in the eighteenth century. He was the first to write the story of his life himself, without the aid or direction of white ghostwriters or editors, such as his predecessors in the slave narrative relied on. Although Equiano made much of his conversation to Christianity, he made clear his dedication to social change be venting his moral outrage toward slavery and his structuring his story so that freedom, not the consolations of religion, emerges as the top priority of his life in slavery.

Chapter 1

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He starts off by saying that people generally think those memoirs only worthy to be read or remembered which abound in great or striking events, those, in short, which in a high degree excite either admiration or pity all others they consign to contempt and oblivion. He as born in the year 1745, in a charming fruitful vale, named Essake. He talked a great deal about Adultery. Adultery, however, was sometimes punished with slavery or death; a punishment, which he believes, is inflicted on it throughout most of the nations of Africa so sacred among them is the honor of the marriage bed, and so jealous are they of the fidelity of their wives. They are almost a nation of dancers, musicians, and poets. Thus, every great event, such as a triumphant return from battle, or other cause of public rejoicing is celebrated in public dances, which are accompanied with songs, and music suited to the occasion. Their district is a kind of militia on a certain signal given, such as the firing of a gun at night, they all arise in arms and rush upon the enemy. After fighting, the prisoners were not killed, but became a slave. As to religion, the natives believe that there is one Creator of all things, and that he lives in the sun, and is gifted round with a belt that he might own favorite luxury. They practice circumcision like the Jews, and made offerings and feasts on that occasion in the same manner as they did. When someone died, pipes and tobacco were place in the grave with the corpse, which was always perfumed and ornamented, and animals were offered in sacrifice of them.


He started by stating that his country have been implanted in him with great care, and made an impression on his mind, which time could not erase, and which all the adversity and variety of fortune I have since experienced serve only to rivet lesson and record; for, whether the love of one’s country be real or imaginary, or a lesson or reason, or an instinct of nature, he still look back with pleasure on the first scene of his life. He talked about the day he and two men and a woman kidnapped his sister. Soon after escaping, he was sold to another slave master. During the journey, he acquired two or three different tongues. He was again sold, and carried through a number of places. He then came to a town called Tinmah, the most beautiful country he has ever seen. This was the first time he has seen or tastes the cocoa-nuts. In this country, they did not circumcise. They cooked in iron pots, and had European cutlasses and cross bows, which were unknown to us, and fought with their fists amongst themselves. Towards the end of the chapter, he made a comment about slavery, “Surely this a new refinement in cruelty, which, while has no advantage to atone for it, thus aggravates distress, and add fresh horrors even to the wretchedness of slavery.


In this chapter, he was shipped off to North America. On the passage, they were treated when coming from Africa, and they had plenty of rice and fat pork. They landed in Virginia County. Here he was called Jacob. It was about the beginning of the spring 1757, when he arrived in England. He was near twelve years of an age at that time. He often saw his master employed in reading so he became curious. So he decided to take up books and have talked to them.

Chapter 4

He explained that his master treated him very well, and his attachment and gratitude to him was very great. He stated that he respect at least all Englishmen. He explained that he could not go to heaven until he get baptize. So he was baptized by Miss Guerin in St. Margaret’s church, Westminster on February 175 by his present name.

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