Equiano: “I now wished for the last friend, Death, to relieve me.”


My friend Shelli mentioned that she had Equiano’s book. 

I was hoping to find a copy.
Thank you Shelli!

After watching Amazing Grace again last week, I shared about how much it made me respect William Wilberforce.

But it also made me want to know more about Olaudah Equiano.

His slave narrative, The Life of Olaudah Equiano, was originally published in 1789 and it helped fuel the British abolitionist movement.  Equiano was born a Nigerian prince and was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  When writing about his passage on a slave ship he said: “I now wished for the last friend, Death, to relieve me.”  Finally, many years later, Equiano purchased his own freedom and went on to write about his journey from royalty, to slavery, and finally…to freedom.

I have a hard time not flipping through a book before I start reading it…so when Shelli loaned it to me this morning, I immediately was drawn to a section of his writing near the end.

I was familiar with the beginning of Equiano’s poem “Reflections on the State of My Mind” because it is often included in literature and history classes, but I’d never before read the final verses:

Well may I say my life has been
One scene of sorrow and pain;
From early days I griefs have known,
And as I grew my griefs have grown.

Dangers were always in my path,
And fear of wrath and sometimes death;
While pale dejection in me reign’d
I often wept, my grief constrain’d.

When taken from my native land,
By an unjust and cruel band,
How did uncommon dread prevail!

My sighs no more I could conceal.

He died for sinners–I am one;
Might not His blood for me atone?
Though I am nothing else but sin,
Yet surely He can make me clean.

Thus light came in, and I believ’d;
Myself forgot, and help receiv’d
My Saviour then, I know, I found,
For, eas’d from guilt, no more I groan’d.

O, happy hour, in which I ceas’d
To mourn, for then I found a rest!
My soul and Christ were now as one:
Thy light, O Jesus, in me shone.

Bless’d be thy name; for now I know
I and my works can nothing do;
“The Lord alone can ransom man–
For this the spotless Lamb was slain.”

When sacrifices, works and pray’r,
Prov’d vain, and ineffectual were,
“Lo then I come!” the Saviour cried,
And, bleeding, bow’d his head and died.

He died for all who ever saw
No help in them, nor by the law;
I this have seen and gladly own
“Salvation is by Christ alone!”

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  1. Thanks for sharing that!

  2. Oh my…he sounds like an amazing man!

  3. I’ll let you know what I think of the book Jessica…if you like autobiographies?
    I knew he had an incredible story, but didn’t realize his faith was such an important piece.

  4. I love it! You have a great list of “living” books on here. I’m writing them all down and hope to fit them all into our CM homeschool next year!

  5. Hi Kari–I’m hoping to update the “favorite books” tab soon…so did you find the list of kids’ books?
    No twaddle here.
    (well…maybe just a little :)

Would love to hear your thoughts...