Olaudah Equiano, also known as Gustavus Vassa, dedicates his book to the Lords of Parliament in England, stating that the purpose of his book is to provoke feelings of compassion for his countrymen who have been beaten down by the horrors of the slave trade. While Equiano too suffered, he now is grateful to have gained knowledge of Christianity and of the nation of Britain.
Equiano emphasizes his own trajectory from unlettered African to Christian British citizen, and he stresses that the opportunities made available to him shouldn’t be barred to other people who look like him and come from his country.
Equiano states his hope that the fact that someone like him is speaking for such a cause will excuse any literary weaknesses on his part, since he is an “unlettered African.” He urges his readers to consider abolition when the question arises in parliament.
Instead of writing a political tract or rhetorical speech, Equiano believes that a memoir is best suited to convincing readers of his own humanity.