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Vincent Carretta

slave narrative author, was born Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, probably between 1710 and 1714 in Bournou (Bornu), a kingdom in what is now northeastern Nigeria. He was the youngest child of the oldest daughter of the king of Bournou. All that is known about James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw is found in A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as Related by Himself (1772), one of the earliest “as-told-to” slave narratives recorded by a white amanuensis. According to this account, Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, spiritually dissatisfied with the animist faith in which he was raised, alienated himself from his friends and relatives by his constant questions challenging their faith in physical objects, as well as by his growing belief in the existence of an uncreated creator. Consequently he became increasingly “dejected and melancholy.”

When an African merchant from the Gold ...


A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, An African Prince appeared in London in 1770, related by a former slave from America in need of financial support for his family. In the work, Gronniosaw mentions how the Puritan spiritual writers John Bunyan and Richard Baxter influenced him. Thus, he tells his life story in accordance with the spiritual autobiography's traditional pattern of sin, conversion, and subsequent rebirth.

The narrative deals with Gronniosaw s remembrance of Africa where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery Transported to Barbados he was resold to a young gentleman in New York and later to a minister who taught him about Christianity A schoolmaster generously offered instructional services to the young slave who gained freedom when his master died Gronniosaw then worked aboard various ships until he settled in England There he married white Betty and ...


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 ...