Saturday, July 25, 2020

Ottobah Cugoano extracts now on our VLE

One of the great things about running your own VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) is that you are not stuck with a set list of authors on a curriculum.  Although we do restrict our authors to those who are out of copyright it also means that we can stretch these boundaries a little, too.  So the GCSE syllabus dictates that texts are taken from 1800 to the present day.  Well, so be it.  However, for us is something amazing from 1787 comes up, 23 years is not going to make a difference to us.

Perhaps overshadowed by his more famour peer, Olaudah Equiano, Ottobah Cugoano is somewhat neglected.  However, having read his autobiography recently (yes, the "something amazing" from 1787) I felt that his experiences had to be shared with students subscribed to the Pass GCSE English VLE.  As such he will feature as one of our "Paper 2" authors.

If you have not heard of him, Ottobah Cugoano was born in what is present-day Ghana around 1757.  As a youth he was kidnapped, sold into slavery, and taken to Grenada.  Here he was worked on a plantation but was bought by an English merchant a year later and taken to the UK.  He was taught to read and write and given his freedom at the age of fifteen. He worked for the artists Richard and Maria Cosway who introduced him to British cultural and political figures.  He joined “The Sons of Africa” – a group of London-based African abolitionists (those committed to ending slavery). Cugoano published his autobiography – “Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species” in 1787.  In this extract he and some friends are kidnapped by traffickers.

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