ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Lost Hebrew? Olaudah Equiano

Updated on July 14, 2014
Olaudah Equiano- From the tribe of Judah or descendant of Keturah?
Olaudah Equiano- From the tribe of Judah or descendant of Keturah?

Lost Hebrew? - Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797)

Equiano’s autobiography: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African, by Olaudah Equiano (1789), is both chilling and informative. But for the researcher looking for clues to the true identity of the slaves, this primary source helps us to persist in the unfolding of a mystery - the Hebrewisms of the men women and children known only as African slaves or Negroes, found in their names, customs, practices, and even their land, before the initiation, and proliferation of the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Home of Olaudah Equiano - Biafra West Africa 1747

The Desert of Seth in West Africa 1747
The Desert of Seth in West Africa 1747

Video: Kingdom of Juda

The Kingdom of Juda renamed the Slave Coast
The Kingdom of Juda renamed the Slave Coast

The Kingdom of Juda

Olaudah Equiano (c.1745 – 1797), was captured as a child from his hometown of Essaka in Biafra (just above the Desert of Seth), an Igbo (Eboe) village in the kingdom of Benin in what is now southern Nigeria. Equiano recalls his kidnapping at age ten and transportation to the Caribbean, where after a short stay he was sent to the English colony of Virginia. There he was purchased by a Captain Michael Henry Pascal, a British naval officer; who renamed him Gustavus Vassa, and brought to England in 1754. [You can read this hub: Maps of Africa-The Desert of Seth son of Adam for more in-depth information.]

Of particular interest is the original name of the author Olaudah. When one looks at the suffix of his first name [udah] etymologically, the connection to [J-udah] or [J-uda] is without question. His name indicates the tribe from which he originated, thus one begins to suspect that he is from the tribe of Juda that were present in West Africa. In 1747 British and French mapmakers charted a “Kingdom of Juda” on the coast of Guinea that was later renamed the “Slave Coast”. Equiano recalls:

“That part of Africa, known by the name of Guinea, to which the trade for slaves is carried on, extends along the coast above 3400 miles, from the Senegal to Angola, and includes a variety of kingdoms. Of these the most considerable is the kingdom of Benen, (Benin) both as to extent and wealth, the richness and cultivation of the soil, the power of its king, and the number and warlike disposition of the inhabitants.”

Equiano is from the Igbo (Eboe) tribe, one that exists today and recognised by many observers and commentators as being a lost tribe of Israel. Of the similarities in customs to the laws of Moses he writes: “I cannot forbear suggesting what has long struck me very forcibly, namely, the strong analogy which even by this sketch, imperfect as it is, appears to prevail in the manners and customs of my countrymen and those of the Jews, before they reached the Land of Promise, and particularly the patriarchs while they were yet in that pastoral state which is described in Genesis..” Some of these similarities are found in their religious practices. Equiano cites their belief in “one Creator of all things” the practice of circumcision, offerings and feasts according to the laws of Moses; and recalls: “Some of our offerings are eaten with bitter herbs.”

Afra Southern Africa 1680

Afra - The Land of Shem

The Patriarch Abraham

In matters of authority and leadership among his tribe, a connection to the ways and customs of the patriarchs Abraham Isaac and Jacob is alluded to when he says: “Like the Israelites in their primitive state, our government was conducted by our chiefs or judges, our wise men and elders; and the head of a family with us enjoyed a similar authority over his household with that which is ascribed to Abraham and the other patriarchs.”

During Equiano’s time theologians Dr Gill author of a bible commentary and Dr. John Clarke formed the opinion that the presence of Hebrewisms among Equiano’s tribe, and indeed the larger portion of the slaves taken from West Africa originated from a familial connection to Abraham but not through Jacob:

“Indeed this is the opinion of Dr. Gill, who, in his commentary on Genesis, very ably deduces the pedigree of the Africans from Afer and Afra, (Book of Jubilees p73) See the descendants of Abraham by Keturah his wife and concubine (for both these titles are applied to her). It is also conformable to the sentiments of Dr. John Clarke, formerly Dean of Sarum, in his Truth of the Christian Religion’: both these authors concur in ascribing to us this original.”

One can only assume these theologians may not have been acquainted with the many maps charted by Christian colonizing nations dating back to the 15th century revealing multiple biblical locations throughout the length and breadth of Africa. It is also interesting that the author himself is unable to evoke any memories as to the reason why their practices were identical to those prescribed in the Mosaic Law and practiced by the Jews.

Opinion Poll

In your opinion- what was Equiano's lineage?

See results

Oluadah Equiano in "Amazing Grace" (2006)

When Captain Pascal discovered that Equiano desired his freedom, he sold him to a Captain James Doran, who sold him on to a Quaker merchant Robert King who then loaned him to a Captain Thomas Farmer. Eventually, Equiano engaged in the enterprise of trading goods between ports and in 1766 was able to save enough money to purchase his freedom.

Equiano has been depicted in the movie "Amazing Grace", and though many historical facts have been compromised, the movie is emotive and informative giving us a visual insight into his contribution to the fight for the abolition of slavery. His narrative gives an in-depth account of his life before his capture, during enslavement and as a freedman, it gives the children of those who survived the slave trade insight into their ancestors way of life before the travesty of slavery. Thus it is a testament preserved through the ages and is to be added to that remnant of sources preserved for Equiano’s nation from the 18th-20thcenturies and maybe beyond.

Links

For maps of Biblical locations in Africa visit the Member Gallery at: HistoryRevised.com



© 2014 Amanda Trayce

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Olukayode Tiiye 23 months ago

      He is from Yoruba

    • profile image

      mex 3 years ago

      Sure sounds yoruba...but it's purely igbo in Olauda(oluda) Ikwuano

    • profile image

      midnightcr3w247 4 years ago

      the name sound Nigeria and Yoruba to be precise

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)