Olaudah Equiano and July 4th: why you must always read books if you must succeed


Life teaches a lot of lessons, a lot of them we learn through socialization and oral traditions, others we get through the writings of men in form of books.

From ages past, language has remained one of the instruments of cultural preservation. This is evident especially for Africans as we have been told great stories of how foundations of the world came to be.

It is said that ancestry, language & culture, and affection & kinship are means of ethnic identity - we have continued to know more about the peoples of the world by these traits.

No doubt the works of anthropologists, ethnologists, scientists and other great scholars have been documented in books and they have contributed in significant measures to the thorough understanding of the world. This is hugely aided by observations, experience, truth, reality and facts.

Books are not written just out of sheer intelligence, they are products of research, deep thought, personal experience and further inquisition into 'what is'  and 'what ought to be'. Through books we learn about how things came to be especially, The American War of Independence.

A little deviation...

In 1789, a man named Olaudah Equiano otherwise known as Gustavus Vassa wrote a book THE INTERESTING NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF OLAUDAH EQUIANO.  The book rapidly went through nine editions in his lifetime.

It is one of the earliest-known examples of published writing by an African writer to be widely read in England. It was the first influential slave narrative of what became a large literary genre.

But Equiano's experience in slavery was quite different from that of most slaves; he did not participate in field work, he served his masters personally and went to sea, was taught to read and write, and he worked in trading.

Equiano's personal account of slavery, his journey of advancement, and his experiences as a black immigrant caused a sensation on publication. The book fueled a growing anti-slavery movement in Great Britain, Europe, and the New World. 

His account surprised many with the quality of its imagery, description, and literary style. Some readers felt shame at learning of the suffering he had endured. You cannot talk about the American Society and not talk about the contributions of slaves.

Now, I was first introduced to the world of Olaudah Equiano in 2009 by one of my College Professors during of my African Civilization classes. It was a journey of enlightenment for me and I think you should take that journey into knowing more about how the Slavery era was brought to an end.

Oh wow! This wasn't meant to be a lesson in history and politics. So let's get back on track.

I was taught in my High School days especially during Financial Accounting classes that Goodwill is a part of a firm‘s assets, at that time, (more than a decade ago), it made no sense, but now, I understand.

Money is a legal tender, it is the reward for work done or services rendered. In our world today, it is the instrument of buying and selling. Whether capital, salary, wages dividend or reward, it is what makes the world go round (so many think).

But, cash (the part of money described above), is just an aspect of money for money itself is beyond cash; it includes attitude, integrity, goodwill, personality and character. That is why a good name is better than gold or silver and someone like the late Justice Oputa or Chinua Achebe can stand as a collateral in terms of loans other than landed properties or bonds.

Ask Bill, Warren, Mark, even Trump and they will tell you that physical cash alone does not make them the wealthy men they are today. The cash itself is a fraction of what money is. Nelson Mandela typifies this - he wasn't worth upto $10m at the time of his death, but that man was wealthy in every sense of the word wealth!

Now you see, the moral of Oluadah's book written 13 years after the American Independence is the attitude of integrity and perverance,and how fundamental it is to sustaining a nation. Americans share this collective attitude.

The other components of wealth are acquired by a conscious and consistent approach to personal development. Cash comes when you have something to offer, a reputation to protect, an impeccable character, these can not be subjected to mathematical calculations or quantified in pecuniary terms.

This is a principle generally understood by Americans as it is the main trust of the American Dream, a philosophy that guarantees success if you are hardworking, of quality reputation and if you are honest in your dealings then wealth will come to you.

The degree of wealth or riches is not measured by the amount of physical cash you possess. It is the same with poverty. Wealth is a thing of the mind. It is an attitudinal trait.

July 4th is worthwhile celebrating because Americans though capitalists in orientations understand the principles of wealth creation which involves knowledge transfer, a strong reading culture, research and development, technological advancements and of course, a strong belief in God, no matter religiously liberal they are becoming  -  IN GOD WE TRUST. Britain needs to learn from them.


So do us a favour and aspire to a life of personal excellence. The world does not need wealthy men with plenty cash. It needs men with Integrity, Character & Goodwill. It is the lessons from July 4th perhaps one of the finest to come from God's Own Country.

To all those who Oluadah's book led to their emancipation and to those who continue to live the American Dream and teach others how to, Happy July 4th!


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  1. I completely agree with the expression "A successful man is reading people." This shows the importance of reading books.