Before We Set Sail is about the eventful journey of an eleven year old African slave boy within the deep interiors of West Africa in the years 1755 – 56. Written by “himself” as a freed slave resident in London in 1796, the narrative focuses on the thrilling adventures he encountered during the time he spent as a boy slave in West Africa prior to being sold to British slave merchants.
Before We Set Sail is presented as a continuation of the best selling first-ever slave autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano: Written by Himself.
In The Interesting Narrative, Olaudah Equiano gave scant attention to the period he spent in Africa as a slave after being kidnapped from his parent’s home, before being sold to European slave traders. He rather emphasized his experiences as a slave in the United States and later United Kingdom. Before We Set Sail focuses on this missing period in Olaudah Equiano’s autobiography. The book deftly weaves a captivating tale of escape and resale from one African slave master to another, giving an enchanting account of events that would have occurred in 18th century West Africa.
Before We Set Sail offers a refreshing, suspense-filled and witty account of the Africa of 1755, from the double points of view of an unlettered African boy and a literate British adult, in a way that excites the reader’s curiosity.
Out of 250 manuscripts submitted by African writers across the globe, the manuscript “Before We Set Sail” was one of six shortlisted for the inaugural Penguin Publishers Prize for African Writing.
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