Words can’t describe how excited I was to see Olaudah Equaino’s picture up as the Google Doodle for today, 16th October 2017. 

I remember coming across a beautiful book; EQUIANO’S TRAVELS while I was in my final year at the University of Ibadan.

 The first time I heard about EQUIANO, I was in my second year and in the third month of an Academic Union Strike that lasted for Six months – Six Months of my precious life! 

I remember sitting on the bed at home and for want of something to do; I picked up my phone and went straight to Google where I typed: THE IGBO PEOPLE. That was the day I first heard about OLAUDAH EQUIANO.

I was genuinely happy when I saw his book. Sadly, I could not take it out of the library and so I devoted my time to reading two chapters each day and putting it up on my blog.

A lot of Nigerians haven’t heard about OLAUDAH EQUIANO. This book, EQUIANO’S TRAVELS is an autobiography written by Equiano himself – The Interesting narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa the African. Paul Edwards, a Senior Lecturer, Department of English Literature, University of Edinburgh abridged and edited this version. The book was first published in the year 1789; and according to the editor, the last edition to appear was an American one of 1837, and today, in Nigeria as elsewhere, Equiano’s book is not well known except to historians and few book enthusiasts.

This book is his very own account of his varied and adventurous life in the years between. At the age of 10 he was captured by slave traders and taken to the southern states of America. He was sold to a planter in the West Indies and worked there and aboard slave ships sailing between the Caribbean and England. Afterwards he worked aboard naval and merchant ships, including slave ships, before he saved enough money to buy his freedom at the age of twenty-one. He visited the Mediterranean, and took part in Phipps’ expedition to the Arctic (1773), as well as crossing the Atlantic several times. As an ardent member of the Anti-slavery movement he came to know several of the leaders of the movement such as Granville Sharp. He was appointed Commissary of Stores for the freed slaves returning to Sierra Leone.

His book was famous in its time. Between 1789 and 1827 it ran into seventeen editions in Britain and the United States, as well as translations into Dutch and German. For a long time it has been unobtainable but it is of great literary and historical importance in the context of African writing.

It has 14 Chapters in all and some miscellaneous verses. 

The plan inititially was to summarize each chapter on my Blog. I ended up talking up about Two chapters only. Do well to read the summary Here.

I’ll certainly get my own copy by the end of this year and finish it.

Author,Chika Unigwe, rewrote Gustavus Vassa’s eventful life into a remarkably epic and a timeless love story in a book; THE BLACK MESSIAH. It is also a compelling tale of adventure that takes the reader inside the holds of slave ships and at the heart of the eighteenth century.
Although originally written in English, The Black Messiah appeared in Dutch translation under the title De zwarte messias, published by Antwerp-based De Bezige Bij in 2013. The original English version is yet to be released.

In a Facebook post, Chika Unigwe wrote: 

Google is celebrating Olaudah Equiano’s birthday today. While I am glad to celebrate his greatness, let us remember that his “birthday” was a date chosen arbitrarily by one of his slave masters. Equiano was Igbo, came from a culture  where precise age meant nothing. People belonged to age groups. Equiano’s abductors had no way of knowing his real age (nor would they have cared). His date of death is not in doubt and was not chosen by someone who had paid money to “buy” another human being. Maybe that’s the better date to dedicate to remembering him?

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