The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African

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Born in 1745, Equiano was born a member of the Igbo tribe in a village called Essaka in the kingdom of Benin. He describes Essaka as a remote and fertile village where slavery is a part of life. Born into a family of seven, Equiano is the youngest of six sons and the "greatest favourite of his mother." One day, when he and his sister were left to mind their house while their people were gone to their work, they were both kidnapped and enslaved, violating the unwritten rules that slaves should only be acquired as prisoners of war or criminals. This day would change Equiano's life forever and begin his experiences in slavery.

After being kidnapped, separated from his sister, reunited, and then separated once again from his sister,
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In England, Equiano had a very kind master who was also his friend. With Pascal, he journeyed to many European ports and fought for Britain on the naval ship in the Seven Years' War. In Britain, he was hired to serve numerous different families and acquired many useful friends during this time. Equiano recalls a pleasant and safe time there, with a growing desire to act as the British. "I could now speak English tolerably well, and I perfectly understood everything that was said. I not only felt myself quite easy with these new countrymen, but relished their society and manners. I no longer look upon them as spirits, but as men superior to us; and therefore I had the stronger desire to resemble them, to imbibe their spirit, and imitate their manners." During this period, he served a woman named Miss Guerins, who sent him to school where he gratefully learned to read and write. She was also the one who convinced Pascal to allow Equiano to be baptized and became his Godmother.

With his recent education and much talk of freedom, or being delivered, Equiano was devastated when he was sent off once again. With Captain James Doran, he sailed to the West Indies and upon arriving at Montserrat, Equiano was sold to a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia named Robert King. Although King was another kind master, upon his merchant ships, which delivered cattle and food to the West Indies in exchange for carrying newly arrived African slaves
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