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Understanding Slavery

A Slave on Three Continents

Childhood
The Kingdom of BeninOlaudah Equiano was born into a wealthy West African family in 1745. His family was Ibo. They lived far from the sea, in an area now part of Nigeria.

Olaudah Equiano's father was a village chief. He had seven children and many slaves, so Equiano grew up in a slave society. But it was a different kind of slavery, as Equiano noted in his autobiography:

With us the slaves do no more work than other members of the community, than even their master; their food, clothing and lodging were nearly the same as ours, except that they were not permitted to eat with those who were free-born; and there was scarcely any other difference between them than a superior degree of importance, which the head of a family possesses.

Next: Enslaved in Africa


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