Gronniosaw, James Albert Ukawsaw
- Joanna Brooks
James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw was born in present-day northeastern Nigeria to a daughter of the royal family of Bournou (Bornu). As a young man, he left his home and family when a traveling Gold Coast merchant lured him away with marvelous tales of coastal trade with Europeans. Upon his arrival at the Gold Coast, Gronniosaw was accused of espionage by a rival king, condemned to execution, and sold to a Dutch slave merchant.
After surviving the Middle Passage from Africa to Barbados, Gronniosaw was purchased first by a wealthy Dutch family of New York City and then, in 1730, by the Dutch Reformed minister Theodorus Frelinghuysen. Frelinghuysen, a famous proponent of religious revivalism, provided Gronniosaw with a religious education and guided his conversion to Christianity. Gronniosaw also learned to read Dutch under the tutelage of a local schoolmaster. When Frelinghuysen died in 1747 or 1748 Gronniosaw was ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.