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Modern Voices
Catherine Ancholou on Equiano's family's reaction when told about Equiano's story
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Q: How did Equiano's family respond to you when you were telling them about Equiano?
Catherine Ancholou

A: First of all, the first thing that I met when I went into the village was disbelief. They wouldn't believe me easily. They didn't believe it was possible. Why did it have to be their son? So many people were sold. Why did it have to be their own son who would have written a novel, who would have written a story that became popular? And people are talking about him everywhere in the world. It was disbelief. They didn't quite believe me.

They were withdrawn from me. They were watching me suspiciously. They didn't know my mission. They didn't know why I was there. So I had to kind of get around it by talking to the traditional ruler to allow me to prepare their minds and for them to allow me to talk to them, for them to respond to me, for them to answer my questions, you know. So there was quite a lot of preparatory stages to them opening up to me, because they didn't know me and there was no reason why they should open up and talk about their son.

They were afraid that perhaps people would begin to ask questions about this boy who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. And perhaps the white man was coming to find those who were guilty, or whatever, of that crime. And perhaps somebody was going to go to jail if they confessed that something like that happened to their child. So there were quite a lot of difficulties that I had to encounter before they were able to feel free and talk to me.

Catherine Ancholou
Associate Professor of English Literature
Awuku College of Education
Nigeria




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