Journey Back to Freedom: The Olaudah Equiano Story
by Catherine Johnson
"My name is Olaudah, but I have had so many names: Michale, Jacob, Gustavus and Olauda. Olaudah is the name my parents gave me. The other names were given to mne as a slave. So you, my friend, may call me Olu" .
Aged 11, Olaudah Equiano was kidnapped from Essaka, West Africa, and sold in to slavery. Passed between 'owners' on land and on sea, Equiano finally bought back his freedom. He went on to become perhaps the most famous member of the Sons of Africa campaigning group in London and went on to write the seminal 1789 work, The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African, Written by Himself, still in print some 200 years later. Equiano's contribution to the abolition of slavery was critical. And, his presence in UK History should loom much larger. His journey to freedom and his life as a free man were, also, complex, not at all straightforward. Only such an accomplished middle grade historian as Catherine Johnson (an author weighed down by awards, fellowships and honours) could deliver that knotty biography into a punchy, riveting narrative. And the backnote on how she dealt with her source materials is fascinating. Use those last few pages to launch budding authors of historical fiction. Johnson remains at her great heights. Reading Age 8, Interest Age 9-12, Paperback 104pp