James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw was a one-time African slave, who published the story of his journey from Africa to the Americas, and then finally to Europe as A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, An African Prince, Written by Himself in 1770.
Born in the kingdom of Bornu, at the age of 15 Gronniosaw was duped by a traveling merchant into traveling with him to the Gold Coast where he was eventually sold to a Dutch captain. He was then bought by an American and was taught to read and brought up as a Christian.
He was bought by a Dutch minister, and remained with him for thirty years until the ministers death. Gronniosaw then spent time as a privateer on British ships, and a servant for a merchant.
Eventually making his way into Europe, he met his wife Betty who was a weaver in London.
He traveled to Amsterdam and spent time living there, in Norwich and finally settled in Kidderminster.
The autobiography follows a three-stage sequence. The first phase is his African childhood, where he lived in unhappiness, ignorance and a state of confusion.
The second phase of the journey is a spiritual one, with his conversion to Christianity.
The final phase carries on his spiritual journey, but his life is thwarted at all corners by hardships and disappointments. These trials he believed were tests set to him by God, and ultimately strengthened his faith.
The theme of this particular text is 'journeys in the long eighteenth century', and this is the first biographical piece to be looked at. Following on from the fictional works of Aphra Behn and Voltaire, it demonstrates how such non-fictional accounts were used to bring the realities if the slave trade into the minds of the public.
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