BORN in what is now Nigeria, Olaudah Equiano was sold into slavery in 1756 at the age of 11. After spells in Barbados and Virginia he spent a decade travelling the world as a slave to a British Royal Navy officer. In turn he was sold to a merchant in Montserrat, a British island in the Carribean. By now he was self-educated and was permitted to buy his freedom for £40 which was then the equivalent of a professional annual salary. He then travelled as an explorer and eventually settled in England in 1760. With encouragement from slavery abolitionists he began writing his memoirs and had them published in 1789. This was one of the first books published by a black African writer and it was an immediate success. By 1790 a fourth edition was published and Equiano came over to Ireland to promote the book. He spent several months in the south, visiting Dublin and Cork before coming north to Belfast where he spent three months. He visited all the local bookshops and travelled to fairs and markets throughout the north.