OLAUDAH EQUIANO – UDEMBA ISSEKE

Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa was an Igbo boy from Essaka in today’s Anambra State who was kidnapped and sold as a slave to British Traders in the 18th Century. After years of working for his European slave masters, Olaudah got educated, bought back his freedom, married a British woman and eventually was the first black man to write a book. His book, an autobiography called ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa’ was a major work that inspired the Abolitionist Movement of the 18th Century.

The book shed light on how Igbos lived in pre-colonial times and brought to an international reading public the beliefs, culture and lifestyle of one of the major African tribes. This book also captured a personal story of the horrors of slavery and slave trade and the self determination of one man to succeed against all odds.

Olaudah Equiano’s contributions to history are immense. He worked closely with William Wilberforce and other Abolitionists to end the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and to give freedom to millions of slaves across the world. In the twentieth century, Olaudah Equiano’s story gave a push to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States of America and nowadays they continue to inspire the struggle for the respect of the rights of the Black person and indeed every human person.

The Ekwealuo family originated from the Dimori kindred of Edeke village in Isseke Ancient Kingdom. There are five families in the kindred; Nnabuife, Ezike, Ekwealuo, Okwereizu and Mgbenka. They were formerly known as Ikenkwo, until Oaudah’s father in the fourth generation who took on his own name as Ekwealuo. The last surviving child of Olaudah’s mother Albert Ekwealuo, died in 1967 at the age of 110.

Olauda Equiano was given a posthumous title of UDEMBA ISSEKE during Ofala Isseke in 2008. He was also honoured among other illustrious indigenes by the Government of Anambra State during its Twenty Fifth anniversary celebration in 2016.