by Solomon Northup
12 Years a Slave, the Oscar winning Hollywood film directed by Steve McQueen and staring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbander, Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch, is the harrowing true story of Solomon Northup who was kidnapped and endured 12 Years of Slavery.
Tricked by two men offering him a job as a musician in New York State in 1841, Solomon Northup was drugged and kidnapped. His life in jeopardy, he was forced to assume a new name and fake past. Taken to Louisiana on a disease-ridden plague ship, he was initially sold to a cotton planter.
In the twelve years that follow he is sold to many different owners who treat him with varying levels of savagery; forced labour, scant food and numerous beatings are his regular fare. Against all odds, Northup eventually succeeds in contacting a sympathetic party and manages to get word to his family. The ensuing rescue and legal cases are no less shocking and intriguing than the rest of the tale.
Northup’s meticulous first-hand recordings of slave life provide a true-life testament to tremendous courage and tenacity in the face of unfathomable injustice.