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Collections >> Titles by Omar ibn Said >> A short biography of Omar ibn Said from The Christian Advocate, July 1825

Prince Moro.

FROM The Christian Advocate (Philadelphia) 3 (July 1825): 306-307.

[The following paper was put into our hands by a friend, who received it from a physician at Fayetteville, in North Carolina, by whom it was drawn up. It contains, we are assured, a faithful statement of facts; and we are persuaded its perusal will give pleasure to our Christian readers. It has brought to our recollection a remark we have heard—"that when God intends to communicate his grace to a heathen, he will either be brought to the gospel, or the gospel be carried to him." Ed.]

About the close of the importation of negroes into South Carolina, a rice planter of that state purchased a gang of slaves and sent them to his plantation; among whom was a man of a slender frame and delicate constitution, who was not able to labour in the field, or had not the disposition to do so. His health failing, he was considered of no value and disregarded. At length he strolled off, and wandering from plantation to plantation reached this place, was taken up as a runaway and put in jail, where he remained for some time. As no one claimed him, and he appeared of no value, the jail was thrown open,* that he might run away; but he had no disposition to make his escape.

* The cause of the jail being thrown open was, he was found to be "a bright mason."

The boys amused themselves with his good natured, playful behaviour, and fitted up a temporary desk, made of a flour barrel, on which he wrote in a masterly hand, writing from right to left, in what was to them an unknown language. He was also noticed by some gentlemen of the place; but his keeper grew tired of so useless a charge, and he was publicly sold for his jail dues. His purchaser, a gentleman living about thirty miles from this place, finding him rather of a slender make, took him into his family as a house servant. Here he soon became a favourite of the inmates of the house, particularly of the children. His good conduct in a short time put him in possession of the keys of all his master's stores, and he gradually acquired a knowledge of the English language. His master being a pious man, he was instructed in the principles of the Christian religion, which he received with great pleasure; and he seemed to see new beauties in the plan of the gospel, which had never appeared to him in the Koran; for he had been reared and instructed in the Mahomedan religion, and it was found that the scraps of writing from his pen, were mostly passages from the Koran. It would seem that he was a prince in his own country, which must have been far in the interior of Africa—perhaps Tombuctoo or its neighbourhood. At all events his intercourse with the Arabs had enabled him to write and speak their language with the most perfect ease. Some of the Africans pretend to say he was what they call "a pray-God to the king;" by which may be understood, a priest or learned man, who offered up prayers for the king of his nation, and was of his household. His dignified deportment showed him to be of a superior cast—his humility that of a peaceable subject, not a despot. In his person he is well formed, of a middle size, small hands and feet, and erect in his deportment. His complexion and hair, as well as the form of the head, are distinctly of the African character. Some years since, he united himself to the Presbyterian church in this place, of which he continues an orderly and respectable member. A gentleman who felt a strong interest for the good Prince Moro, as he is called, sent to the British Bible Society, and procured for him an Arabick Bible; so that he now reads the scriptures in his native language, and blesses Him who causes good to come out of evil by making him a slave. His good master has offered to send him to his native land, his home and his friends; but he says "No,--this is my home, and here are my friends, and here is my Bible; I enjoy all I want in this world. If I should return to my native land, the fortune of war might transport me to a country where I should be deprived of the greatest of all blessings, that of worshipping the true and living God, and his Son Jesus Christ, whom to worship and serve is eternal life."

"My dear deliverer out of hopeless night,
Whose bounty bought me but to give me light;
I was a bondman on my native plain,
Sin forged, and Ignorance made fast the chain;
Thy lips have shed instruction as the dew,
Taught me what path to shun, and what pursue;
Farewell my former joys! I sigh no more
For Africa's once loved, benighted shore;
Serving a benefactor, I am free,
At my best home, if not exiled from thee!"


Titles by Omar ibn Said