Portrait of Olaudah Equiano from the frontispiece of his autobiography. Equiano had an extraordinary life. According to his autobiography, he was born in c.1745 in a small village in what is now Nigeria. Kidnapped when only about 11 years old, he was sold to English slave traders who then transported him to the West Indies. After some ten years of enslavement, first to an officer in the Royal Navy, and later to a Quaker merchant in North America, he was able to buy his freedom with money earned through some judicious trading and saving. Equiano spent many years as a seaman and travelled all over the world ? from the Mediterranean to the North Pole. On his return to England he became increasingly concerned with social and spiritual reform and much of his later life was spent working for the anti-slavery movement. His autobiography played a significant role in furthering the abolitionist cause.