Meet the Cast

Olaudah Equiano
played by Youssou N'Dour


Olaudah Equiano played by Youssou N'Dour

Meet Olaudah Equiano

A central figure in the abolitionist movement in Great Britain, Olaudah Equiano (c.1745–1797) wrote an eyewitness account of his life as a slave and of his work in the anti-slavery movement: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African. Though born in what is now Nigeria, Equiano was kidnapped and sold into slavery in childhood and taken as a slave to the New World. As a slave to a captain in the Royal Navy, and later to a Quaker merchant, he eventually earned the price of his own freedom by careful trading and saving.

Equiano, like Wilberforce, stood for more than just abolition. Equiano was an African, a slave, a sailor, an Englishman, an abolitionist, a Christian, a writer. He used his many titles to show how slavery brutalizes society as a whole.

He wrote: "Is not the slave trade entirely a war with the heart of man? Such a tendency has the slave trade to debauch men's minds and harden them to every feeling of humanity! For I will not suppose that the dealers in slaves are born worse than other men…it corrupts the milk of human kindness and turns it into gall. Surely this traffic cannot be good, which spreads like a pestilence and taints what it touches!"

About Youssou N'Dour

Grammy® Winner Youssou N'dour is one of Africa's music pioneers, who has put African music on the world map over the past fifteen years.

Born in Senegal, his mother taught him the music and songs of the Wolof people, to whom his family belongs. He began to perform with music and drama groups at an early age in his home town in Daker, making his first public performance with a modern band in 1973. In 1975 he joined the Star Band, the house band at Dakar's most popular night club. With them, he experimented, melding Wolof music with western instruments, in a style called mbalax. In 1979 he formed his own band Etoile, revamping and renaming them Super Etoile de Dakar in 1982, and continuing to introduce new elements to his music, with lyrics from Wolof mythology and elements of contemporary life in Dakar.

In 1982 he released his first cassette for sale, and his popularity grew in Dakar as more cassettes were recorded. His albums Immigres and Nelson Mandela provided him with an international breakthrough and led to his collaboration with Peter Gabriel. Together they toured in 1987.

Youssou N'Dour now records for the world market, but holds onto his African roots by continuing to live in Senegal with his family, recording music specifically for his African audiences.

Amazing Grace marks Youssou's film debut and he also collaborated with David Arnold to provide music for the film's soundtrack.