Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745 – 31 March 1797), known in his lifetime as Gustavus Vassa (), was a writer and abolitionist from the Igbo region of what is today southeastern Nigeria according to his memoir, or from South Carolina according to other sources. Enslaved as a child, he was taken to the Caribbean and sold as a slave to a captain in the Royal Navy, and later to a Quaker trader. Eventually, he earned his own freedom in 1766 by intelligent trading and careful savings.
In London, Equiano (identifying as Gustavus Vassa during his lifetime) was part of the Sons of Africa, an abolitionist group composed of well-known Africans living in Britain, and he was active among leaders of the anti-slave trade movement in the 1780s. He published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789), which depicted the horrors of slavery. It went through nine editions and aided passage of the British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished the African slave trade.As a freedman in London, he supported the British abolitionist movement. Equiano had a stressful life; he had suffered suicidal thoughts before he became a Protestant Christian and found peace in his faith. After settling in London, Equiano married an English woman named Susannah Cullen in 1792 and they had two daughters. He died in 1797 in Middlesex. Equiano's death was recognized in American as well as British newspapers. Plaques commemorating his life have been placed at buildings where he lived in London. Since the late 20th century, when his autobiography was published in a new edition, he has been increasingly studied by a range of scholars, including many from his homeland, Igboland, in the eastern part of Nigeria. Other scholars have suggested Equiano was born in South Carolina, and was renamed Gustavus Vassa by a British trader while en route to England.