The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written By Himself (Audiobook)
First published in 1789, The book describes Equiano's time spent in slavery, and documents his attempts at becoming an independent man through his study of the Bible, and his eventual success in gaining his own freedom and in business thereafter.
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Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745 – 31 March 1797), was a former enslaved African, seaman and merchant who wrote an autobiography depicting the horrors of slavery and lobbied Parliament for its abolition.
In his biography, he records he was born in what is now Nigeria, kidnapped and sold into slavery as a child. He then endured the middle passage on a slave ship bound for the New World. After a short period of time in Barbados, Equiano was shipped to Virginia and put to work weeding grass and gathering stones.
In 1757, he was bought by a naval captain (Captain Pascal) for about £40, who named him Gustavas Vassa. Equiano was about 12 when he first arrived in England. For part of that time he stayed at Blackheath in London with the Guerin family (relatives of Pascal). It is here that Equiano learnt how to read and write and to do arithmetic. However, Equiano spent much of his time at sea, both on warships and trading vessels.
He served Pascal during naval campaigns in Canada and then in the Mediterranean. In 1763, Captain Pascal sold Equiano to Captain James Doran. He was taken to Montserrat and sold to the island's leading merchant Robert King. During the next three years, by trading and saving hard, Equiano was able to save enough money to buy his freedom for £40.
He came to London before returning to sea, working as an able seaman, steward and, once, as acting captain. He travelled widely, including the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Arctic (in an attempt to reach the North Pole, under the command of John Phipps). Returning to London, he came into contact with the anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp when his friend, John Annis, was kidnapped by his former owner. Between them they tried to save Annis but were unsuccessful.
In 1775, he travelled to the Caribbean and became involved in setting up a new plantation colony on the coast of Central America. Equiano did everything to comfort and 'render easy' the condition of the enslaved people brought to work on the plantation. Equiano himself was badly mistreated. A slave trader named Hughes tried to enslave him and strung him up with ropes for several hours, but Equiano managed to escape in a canoe.
He returned to London and worked as a servant for a while, before finding employment with the Sierra Leone resettlement project, which was set up to provide a safe place for freed Slaves to live and work. He also formed the ‘Sons of Africa', a group which campaigned for abolition through public speaking, letter writing and lobbying parliament. In 1788, Olaudah Equiano led a delegation to the House of Commons to support William Dolben's bill to improve conditions on slave ships, by limiting the number of enslaved Africans that ships could carry.
Equiano knew that one of the most powerful arguments against slavery was his own life story. He published his autobiography in 1789: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. It became a bestseller and was translated into many languages.
The book began with a petition addressed to Parliament and ended with his antislavery letter to the Queen. The tens of thousands of people who read Equiano's book, or heard him speak, started to see slavery through the eyes of a former enslaved African. It was a very important book that made a vital contribution to the abolitionists' cause.
Equiano worked hard to promote the book. He went on lecture tours around Britain and Ireland and spent much of the 1790s campaigning against slavery. He was helped by abolitionist friends, such as Thomas Clarkson, who recommended his book and wrote letters of introduction. You can see one of the letters of introduction (written in 1789) in the source materials. He visited Birmingham in 1789 and Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Cambridge in 1790. In 1791, he toured Ireland. Equiano spoke at a large number of public meetings, where he described the cruelty of the Slave Trade. The following letter was written by Equiano in 1792:
"Sir, I went to Ireland and was there eight and a half months and sold 1900 copies of my narrative. I came here on the 10th and I now mean to leave London in about 8 or 10 days and to take me a wife (one Miss Cullen) of Soham in Cambridgeshire. When I have given her about 8 or 10 days comfort, I mean directly to go to Scotland - and sell my 5th. Editions. I trust that my going has been of much use to the cause of Abolition of the accursed Slave Trade. A gentleman of the Committee, the Revd. Dr. Baker, has said that I am more use to the cause than half the people in the country - I wish to God, I could be so."
In 1792, Equiano married Susan Cullen, from Ely, at Soham church. After his marriage, Equiano visited Scotland, Durham and Hull. In 1793, his travels took him to Bath and Devizes. These travels turned the public against the Slave Trade, raising awareness of the horrors of the trade, changing attitudes towards enslaved people and inspiring others to join the abolition campaign.
Equiano died in March 1797. The Slave Trade in Britain was not to end until nearly a decade later. It would be forty years before slavery itself was abolished in the British Colonies.
A fossilised jawbone found poking out of the ground in Ethiopia has set the story of human origins back nearly half a million years to a time when early man shared the vast grassland plains of eastern Africa with a rich variety of prehistoric animals.
This suggests there must have been an even older common ancestor of both H. habilis specimens, said Fred Spoor of University College London and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, who believes the answer now lies with the new jawbone discovery in Ethiopia.
Scientists have confirmed that the jawbone belongs to the Homo genus and, at 1.8 million years old, is more than 400,000 years older than the oldest previous fossil of the same group of early humans who eventually gave rise to our own species, Homo sapiens.
The discovery begins to fill in a huge gap in human origins between the primitive “ape man” of Australopithecus afarensis – best known from the Lucy fossil discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 – and the earliest known members of the “human” family, the species Homo habilis or “handy man”.
“The jaw helps to narrow the evolutionary gap between Australopithecus and early Homo. It’s an excellent case of a transitional fossil in a critical time period in human evolution,” said Bill Kimbel, director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University in Tempe.
The incomplete mandible with teeth was found by graduate student Chalachew Seyoum of the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Addis Ababa, who made the discovery while surveying a hill in the Ledi-Geraru area of the Afar region of Ethiopia, where many early human fossils have been unearthed.
Although scientists are not yet sure which species the jawbone’s owner belongs to, they are confident it can be included in the “human” lineage of Homo, which is characterised by an upright, bipedal posture, sophisticated tool-making abilities and a relatively large braincase.
The Imafidons are Britain’s smartest family and have become international models of academic achievement.
Dr. Chris Imafidon and Ann Imafidon came from Edo State, Nigeria, to London over 30 years ago and their children have broken national records in education.
Anne-Marie, 23, the eldest child, is multi-lingual. She speaks six languages and graduated from college at age 10. At 13, she was the youngest person to pass the U.K.’s A-level computing exam. She went on to attend John Hopkins University in Baltimore and received her masters degree from Oxford University, all before she turned 20 years old.
In 2009, fraternal twins Peter and Paula made headlines for becoming youngest students to enter secondary school at age 6. Their older sister, Christina, was 11 when she was accepted to study at any undergraduate institution in Britain.
Nigerian architect Olajumoke Adenowo reveals her tips for success, mentorship and what she'd like to do next.
She enrolled at the University of Ife at just 14. Five years later, she had her first degree in architecture, and by 23 she was employed and designing her first building. Three years later, she set up shop solo, and two decades on she is one of Nigeria's most accomplished architects.
Always an overachiever, the ambitious builder -- once described as the "face of architecture in the Nigeria" -- has dedicated her illustrious career to reimagining her homeland's landscape.
Involved in the design and construction of over 70 buildings, she has brought institutional facilities, epic 2,500-seat auditoriums, residences, estates and cutting edge corporate offices to life.
Adenowo's hugely successful career is no doubt a reflection of the dreamer's passion for her craft, and her success has been confirmed by numerous architectural accolades awarded to the 46-year-old.
Besides these business-based achievements, her work with women pushing for gender equality -- Adenowo hosts her own radio show mentoring women -- has seen her receive several commendations from the likes of the United Nations Information Center over the years.
Here she reveals to CNN how she designs both functional and beautiful structures across the continent, her top tips for success and why she wants to inspire the next generation.
Mentorship is vital. Upon graduating at an early age, Adenowo quickly found work at Femi Majekodunmi Associates architectural firm where she impressed her boss -- then the President of the International Union of Architectects -- with her passion and enthusiasm. The work ethic she displayed opened up great opportunities for the rising designer who was soon asked to create the Federal Ministry of Lands in Abuja. "I was always ready. I would be at the office at 11pm on Sunday when other girls are dancing or something. I think my boss saw my passion and he gave me a chance," she says. "If we had more mentors like that in Africa, I believe the younger generation would blossom faster."
It's OK to work things out as you go. At 25, Adenowo decided to go it alone and start her own company, AD Consulting. It was a big risk to undertake but her reputation as one of Nigeria's most prominent architects proves that sometimes you have jump into the unknown. "The office was a little bigger than three chairs. It was myself and a young boy who sat in the corridor but I started anyway because I believe that you do what you can with what you have, where you are."
Great architecture isn't just a building. Adenowo explains that to build a great building, you have to have an omniscient outlook. "You have to know history, you have to understand culture, sociology, anthropology. You need to know physics, you have to understand chemistry to a point. You have to understand art and the history of art to be a really good architect," she says. "Good architecture is about the spirit of the age. If you look at a pyramid, it talks about one man's quest to be immortal ... It's 4,500 years old and we still see them. We can no longer forget those pharaohs because of architecture."
Go a step further than 3D. "My buildings all have a fourth dimension and the fourth dimension is time. Each space I design changes in time. I design lighting schemes in such a way that by night the building is a totally different entity from what it was in the morning. I design buildings in such a way that as you move through the space, you experience something new at every step."
Passion doesn't just come from within. "The passion comes from my clients. I feed off their energy... I would do anything for my clients to make sure that their buildings come out the way they should."
Take ownership and inspire. Despite juggling a prosperous career and a family at home, Adenowo still finds time to mentor women through her weekly radio show. She also founded the Awesome Treasures Foundation in 1999, which helps mentor women and young girls. "We believe the greatest need of Africa is leadership, vision. Strong people who are ready to give their all to say, 'this is the way', and Awesome Treasures is here to address that need, to raise transformational leaders."
The sky's the limit. Adenowo may have achieved great success but that doesn't mean she's resting on her laurels. "In the next five years, it would be a dream come true if I have the opportunity to design a building that would define Nigeria's identity. The way you see the Tour d'Eiffel and you think Paris, the Empire State Building and you think New York."
After one very disappointing shopping trip to find naturally made beauty products for tweens and teens, this sister duo decided to launch their own, Sweet Dream Girlz.
Sweet Dream Girlz has been seen in USA Today, Bloombergs Businessweek, Girls Life Magazine and celebrity endorsed by several teen, tweens and mothers. The naturally made beauty products are filled with shea butter and natural oils. And, free from harmful ingredients such as paraben and talc. The body product fragrances smell almost good enough to eat. The facial products teach girls that it is essential to learn good skin care habits at their age. The professional quality hair care products leave the hair feeling soft and silky.
These two aren't stopping at beauty, Their direct selling program, SPA DIVA empowers girls to be entrepreneurs.
They have expanded the brand to be
vibrant lifestyle of products to include fun, sweet sneakers, apparel and accessories. Thus, enabling teens and tweens to be Sweet Dream Girlz from head to toe
If you have ever thought about starting a business and wanted to focus on on the continent of Africa, then now is your chance. With the stroke of his pen, Obama initiated his executive order to add to the Doing Business In Africa (DBIA) Campaign he started in 2012.
This effort went into effect last year at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum where President Obama announce his plan to invest $7 billion dollars in new financing to promote U.S. exports and investments in Africa under the DBIA Campaign. This is on top of other companies, institutions and nations commitment of another $26 billion dollars for similar efforts totally a whopping $33 billion dollars in opportunity.
The goal of the effort is for the US Government to strengthen commercial relationships with the continent of Africa. POTUS recognizes there are a wide range of opportunities for trade, investment and more across the continent. This puts entrepreneurs and businesses in a great position for expansion and creates job opportunities right here in the United States.
The DBIA Campaign encourages U.S. commercial engagement in Africa by harnessing the resources of the U.S. government to assist businesses in identifying and seizing opportunities and to engage with members of the African Diaspora in the United States.
President Obama’s Executive Order (E.O.) is to promote broad-based economic growth in the United States and in Africa by encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.
The E.O. creates a President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa under the direction of the Secretary of Commerce. The new Government resources to support the exports and investment in Africa will come from the following; Interagency Initiatives, U.S. Export-Import Bank, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
USA Gymnastics caught up with two-time World all-around champion Simone Biles, her parents and coach Aimee Boorman to reflect on Simone's incredible success and look ahead to the future, including Simone's 2015 debut at the AT&T American Cup on March 7.