'O, ye nominal Christians! Might not an African ask you,
learned you this from your God?'


These pages are taken from the early chapters of Equiano’s autobiography. The 11-year-old Equiano had been kidnapped by local middlemen and then sold on to White slave traders operating out of the Niger delta.

The first extract recounts his experiences on the slave ship taking him from Africa to the West Indies. The appalling and crowded conditions, the casual cruelty of the White sailors and the desperation of those kidnapped, leading to suicide, are all described here.

The second extract reports on the slave market in Barbados where Equiano was sold. Here, he recalls the behaviour of the White buyers towards what were regarded as commodities, and the breaking up of enslaved families without a qualm. Poignantly, he exclaims: ‘O, ye nominal Christians! Might not an African ask you, learned you this from your God?’

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1814 edition), pp. 63-6, 69-70

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