What was one of the major strengths of Olaudah Equiano’s community?
Olaudah Equiano, the author of the slave narrative The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, was born in Benin in 1745 among the Ibo people. He begins his narrative discussing the richness of the land of his birth. He writes:
"Our land is uncommonly rich and fruitful, and produces all kinds of vegetables in great abundance...Every one contributes something to the common stock; and as we are unacquainted with idleness, we have no beggars."
His native land is naturally fertile, and the people are accustomed to performing labor in a communal way. Equiano says that his people are hardworking and vigorous. The community is able to provide for everyone, and no one goes hungry as a result. He also writes that his people are handsome and without deformity.
Equiano was taken forcibly from his home at age 11. After being enslaved in Virginia, he bought himself out of slavery in 1766 and published his narrative in 1789. His narrative helped sway public opinion in favor of the passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which ended the British slave trade.