Where was he born

There are many theories about where Gustavus Vassa was born. He said he came from Essaka in Igboland. The name he was given after he was born, Olaudah, is an Igbo name, as his second name, Equiano, which was probably not a surname but the name of his father. it was suggested in the early 1960s by novelist Chinua Achebe that Essaka might be identified with Issieke, a theory that Catherine Ancholonu has advocated most forcefully. Issieke islocated in central Igboland, to the southeast of Onitsha. G.I. Jones postulated that Vassa came from that part of Igboland to the west of the Niger River, primarily because of Vassa's references to the Kingdom of Benin, which is the west of the Niger and held sway over portions of Igbo country as far as the Niger River in the eighteenth century. Still another theory identifies Esseke with Usaka, which is located in Abia State. Finally, Vincent Carretta has argued that Vassa might have been born in South Carolina, and not in Igboland at all. Carretta bases his argument on Vassa's baptismal record from 1759 that states that he was born in Carolina. However, there is no reason to believe the baptismal record since it was dictated by relatives of his master, remembering that Vassa was a slave at the time and was certainly not responsible for the misinformation in the records of St. Margaret's Church in  Westminster. Carretta also claims that a derivative document from the records of the Arctic Expedition of 1774, which also gives a Carolina birth, is to be trusted. At the time of the Arctic Expedition, however, Vassa was a freeman and carried with him two documents to prove his free status - his emancipation paper and his baptismal record. He was hardly in a position to contradict what was in his legal papers, which stated a Carolina birth. Vassa most certainly would have used the documents to legitimize his status as a free person, despite any errors contained therein.

For a discussion, see Paul E. Lovejoy, "Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, What's in a Name?" Atlantic Studies, 9:2 (2012), 165-84