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Who is Olaudah Equiano – Today’s Google Doodle?



Who is Olaudah Equiano - Today's Google Doodle? - BellaNaijaOlaudah Equiano, known in his lifetime as Gustavus Vassa, was a freed Nigerian slave in London who helped pass the abolition of the African slave trade in Britain and its colonies.

Equiano, in 1789, wrote “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” which depicted the horrors of slavery from the point of view of a slave, and helped in the passing of the British Slave Trade Act of 1807 that ended up abolishing the African Slave Trade.

Equiano wrote about being kidnapped at the age of 11 along with his sister from his parents’ house in Essaka in the Eboe province, which is Igboland in present day Nigeria.

He was transported along with 244 other enslaved people to Barbados, then to Virginia, a then British Colony.

He was bought in 1754 by Michael Pascal, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and was renamed Gustavus Vassa after the Swedish king Gustav I.

Pascal was relatively decent to Equiano, and invited his sister-in-law to teach him to read and write.

Pascal had Equiano return with him to England, where he served as his valet during the Seven Years’ War with France, and trained in seamanship. He was expected to assist the ship’s crew in times of battle, hauling gunpowder to the gun decks.

Equiano was eventually sold to Captain James Doran, who then sold him to Robert King.

King taught Equiano to read and write even more fluently, and allowed him to engage in trading, selling fruits and other items.

When Equiano was about 20, he was told by Robert King that for his purchase price of £40 – about £6000 today – he could buy back his freedom, which he did in 1767.

Equiano settled in London in the 1780s, joining the fight for the abolishment of slavery, and wrote his memoir “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African” in 1789.

The book fueled the growing anti-slavery movement in the new world, and eventually helped the passing of the British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished the African Slave Trade.

Today, the 16th of October, 2017, would have been his 272nd birthday. He was born on October 16, 1745 and died on March 31, 1797

Photo Credit: Wikipedia


This post has been edited to properly relay some information concerning Olaudah Equiano’s origin.


  1. Michy

    October 16, 2017 at 11:40 am

    What an impactful life!

  2. Teekay

    October 16, 2017 at 11:47 am


  3. x-factor

    October 16, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Dear BN

    Kindly cross check these facts correctly,
    1. He was born on October 16, 1745 and died on March 31, 1797
    2. Equiano settled in London in the 1980s….

    Something seems to be off or may be i am missing something here…..

    Thank You

    • Seriously

      October 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      I read his book in high school. Great book. What a brave man!!! These are people that deserve a statue.

      I guess, he was raised from the dead hence he settled in London 1980.
      BN, this is no longer funny. The mistakes are ridiculous.
      Did Uche Pedro sell this website? I really don’t understand how it went from quality to barely making it.

    • Who Knows

      October 16, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      He was a vampire maybe? Lived until 1980 🙂 Obviously a typo. BN take note

    • yvonne

      October 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      it says 1780s not 1980s, you should probably re-read before criticizing

    • Derin87

      October 16, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      @yvonne did it occur to you that they corrected the error they made?

    • Zachary

      October 16, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Ilike you x-factor

    • Zachary

      October 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm


    • Zachary

      October 16, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      If he is truly Nigerian then I wish he used his energy of impact to develop Nigeria too.

  4. Anon

    October 16, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    This is a walk down the history lane. I remember many years ago when I used to watch America’s Next Top Model and I used to say to myself that Miss J looked like him.

    Etsako, Benin, Nigeria! Those are two different areas. It’s either Etsako, Edo or Benin, Edo. Old usage was Etsako, Bendel.

  5. marlee

    October 16, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    great to know, i salute people like him, we all owe them a debt of gratitude.

  6. Sunshiney

    October 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    As a West Indian, I remember having to read about him and others with regards to slavery and the abolitionist movement in the UK. I’ve never believed the majority of his story. I have always believed that elements of Equiano’s life were falsified and utilized by abolitionists as a case to “free” the slaves in the British West Indies. I believe he was an intelligent, former slave who used and embellished parts of his story for fame in exchange for an “easy” life in the UK. He did nothing for West Indian slavery and to me was nothing more than an Uncle Tom. Gustavus Vasa my ass!!!

    • Sherlie Holmes

      October 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      I don’t why your comment just irritated me. Uncle Tom bawo? Girl bye.

    • Sherlie Holmes

      October 16, 2017 at 3:07 pm


  7. Chaimo

    October 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Olaudah Equiano (Ekwuano) was an igbo man born in Isieke, captured during the slave trade, wrote about the Igbo and was able to help calm down Igbo slaves during their uprising in Virginia using igbo language to speak to them.

    How come I see benin ethsako as his origin other than what he wrote?

    • Abi

      October 17, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      I’m currently reading this book and can confirm that the write up is inaccurate in several places.

  8. tunmi

    October 16, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Bn pretty please let’s do more of these.

  9. lizzy

    October 16, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Bella Naija,
    As an ethical brand, the right thing to do is acknowledge the error in your post after correction and not make your commentators look silly…..

  10. Frida

    October 16, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Pls BN kindly do your research. If my memory serves me correctly, Olaudah was from ESSAKA village. He had Igbo origins and wrote extensively about the ‘Eboe’ (Igbo) tradition.
    I may be wrong but that’s what I remember from reading about it.

    • nnenne

      October 17, 2017 at 4:17 am

      You are right Frida! Bella got me confused. Oluda, meaning the resounding voice / golden ring ,pending on the tone, is an Igboman.
      Schomburg Library, in NY, had an expose, on him sometime last year.
      Believe it or not, the Igbo blood does not lie!
      It’s in the DNA!
      IIgbo don’t die, they multiply!

      There’s another one also in Viginia, name forgotten, who bought his freedom back,and ended up buying part of the masters plantation! Bishop TD Jakes too.

      Shout out to our African American family! !!

    • Fred

      October 17, 2017 at 6:49 am

      Olaudah wrote that he is from ESSAKA, which is actually Iseke. Equiano is actually Ekwuano. Please cross check your facts..

  11. Ese

    October 16, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Hes Eboe and he wrote about eboe culture and growing up. Typical BN … usual copy and paste ….no research
    go and research about.a town called isieke in Anambra state


    October 17, 2017 at 1:37 am


  13. Anna

    October 17, 2017 at 5:26 am

    Read about the times Olaudah spent in Africa as a boy slave in the book, Before We Set Sail, a historical fiction. Available on

  14. Chux

    October 17, 2017 at 10:03 am

    He was from Ariam Usaka in current Ikwuano LGA of Abia state.He was shouting Ikwuano when he was captured.Please try and research before you write and stop importing things from the internet because it is full of junks.

  15. Oma

    October 17, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Please how far is bellanaija na wa for una!! You get such story and you can’t carry out a simple research on it. Please employ more people if you are lazy.

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