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Ottobah Cugoano / John Stewart
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Quobna Ottobah Cugoano was born about 1757, near Ajumako on the coast of what is now Ghana . He was kidnapped at about 13 and taken to work in a slave-gang in Grenada . After about two years in the West Indies he was brought to England and freed by his owner. He had himself baptised and took the name John Stewart. After this he worked as servant to the court painter of the Prince of Wales, and became a friend of Olaudah Equiano and a leader of London 's black community. He campaigned against slavery, and in 1786 he and another community leader, William Green, arranged for the rescue of Henry Demaine, a black man who had been kidnapped to be sold in the West Indies . They alerted the abolitionist Granville Sharpe, who was able to bring a legal writ to free Demaine just as the ship holding him was about to set sail.

In 1787, Cugoano published Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species , the first attack on slavery to be printed by a black Briton. In it, Cugoano argued that it was the moral duty of a slave to resist his enslavers, and went further than almost all the white abolitionists at this date by demanding the immediate ending of slavery. He also claimed that if slavery were abolished Britain would gain more wealth “in a righteous way”, through friendly trade with Africa than it did through the slave system.

Little is known of Cugoano after1791 when the second edition of his book was published, except that he was reported to have married an Englishwoman. In 1791 he wrote that he planned to open a school, mainly for people “of his Complexion”, to teach them “the Knowledge of the Christian Religion and the Laws of Civilization.”




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