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Journey Back to Freedom

From the horrors of the slave trade to a book that changed the world, Catherine Johnson celebrates the incredible life of Olaudah Equiano in this gripping true story.

Born in what is now Nigeria in 1745, Olaudah Equiano’s peaceful childhood was brought to an abrupt end when he was captured and enslaved aged 11. He spent much of the next eight years of his life at sea, seeing action in the Seven Years’ War. When he was finally able to buy his freedom, he went on to become a prominent member of the abolition movement and in 1789 published one of the first books by a Black African writer. Journey Back to Freedom focuses on Equiano’s early life, demonstrating the resilience of the human spirit and one man’s determination to be free

Our Review Panel says...

Olaudah Equiano was cruelly snatched from his home in Essaka, Africa, aged only 11, in 1756. Initially taken with his older sister, Ifeoma, they soon became separated. Olaudah never heard from her again. From there he was taken to England, first enduring a long voyage where he was treated horribly, along with the other slaves. He was sold several times before being taken to America to be a house slave. The master was cruel and the slaves were too scared to even speak to each other. Next he was bought by an English naval officer and taken to sea. Here he finally made friends and began to learn to read and write, as well as experiencing many adventures and great peril.

Olaudah’s story does not end there. He is bought and sold a couple more times before he is taken to the West Indies. Here he sees a chance of freedom. It turns out he has a flair for business and becomes his master’s trusted slave. Working hard, he finally earns enough money to buy his freedom and returns to England as a free man. Here he wrote a book about his experiences and worked hard in the campaign against slavery.

This is an incredible true story, vividly brought to life by Catherine Johnson. It would be a brilliant addition to any UKS2 or KS3 classroom, especially if studying slavery. A difficult subject matter sensitively brought to life for children.

Reviewer: Caroline Waldron

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