Olaudah equiano

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Olaudah Equiano

By his own account, Olaudah Equiano's early life began in the region of "Essaka" (in his spelling) near the River Niger, an Igbo-speaking region of Nigeria. His father was animportant elder in the village, who helped settle disputes. Equiano's people were simple tribesmen with few wants. At an early age, he was kidnapped by kinsmen and forced into domestic slavery in anothernative village in a region where the African chieftain hierarchy was tied to slavery. This was the first time he had ever seen white men, showing how isolated he was from the rest of the world.[1][2]Equiano lived with six brothers and a sister, and was part of a large family. He was the youngest son with one younger sister. At the age of ten and a half, Equiano and his sister were kidnapped byfellow Africans and sold to slave owners. Equiano was sold to white slave traders and taken to the New World, specifically Barbados. Equiano changed hands a few times before being shipped across theAtlantic Ocean. He was not purchased because of his small size; the work on a sugar plantation required strong people. He was then sent to Virginia. On arrival, he was bought by Michael Pascal, alieutenant in the Royal Navy. Forcing slaves to accept a new name was common practice among slave owners when slaves changed hands. Pascal decided to rename him Gustavus Vassa, a Latinized form of the nameGustav Vasa, a Swedish noble who had become king of Sweden in the 16th century, Gustav I of Sweden. This was but one of many names Equiano had been given by slave owners through his life, however, thistime Equiano refused and boldly told his new owner that he would prefer to be called Jacob. As a punishment, Pascal had him cuffed and told him that he would remain in shackles until he accepted thename chosen for him. According to Equiano's narrative, he remained shackled for a long time and was thus forced to accept an odd new name he initially detested. The reason behind the rather unusual...