Kidnapped and sold into slavery when he was 7 years old in (approximately) 1752 – eventually, Olaudah was able to buy his freedom. Following decades of adventure, in 1781 he learned of the Zong massacre. To enable the captain to claim compensation for the loss on the ship Zong’s insurance, 130 African enslaved people were thrown overboard. Outraged and horrified, Equiano brought news of this to the abolitionist campaigner Granville Sharp and got much more involved in the movement to fight the trade of enslaved people.
In 1789, he published his autobiography ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano’. It is one of the earliest-known examples of writing by an African writer published in the UK, detailing his early life and many adventures. It was a crucial counter narrative to commonly-held and prejudiced English beliefs about African people and their lives, became a bestseller and was an important tool for the abolitionist movement.