Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tribute to Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori

In honor of Black History Month, I would like to pay Tribute to Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori. His story has always been one of the saddest yet inspirational slavery accounts for me.

Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori (a.k.a. Abdul Rahman) who was a former prince from West Africa who was captured and brought to America and made a slave.

He was born in Timbo, West Africa, which is present day Guinea. He was a Fulbe from the land of Futa Jallon and his father was a wealthy King who sent Abrahim to study in 1774 to study in Mali at Timbuktu. Timbuktu is a city in Tombouctou Region, in the West African nation of Mali and is home to the prestigious Sankore University an intellectual and spiritual capital and centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries but is believed to have been established in the 10th century. Its 3 great mosques, Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahya are representative of its awe and golden age.

Abrahim was captured by warring tribes and sold to slave traders in 1788 at the age of 26. He was bought by a Natchez, Mississippi, cotton and tobacco farmer, named Thomas Foster.

He spent many years as Foster's slave but never forgot his royal past. God set a plan in motion that would eventually alter his circumstances. God enabled him to cross paths with a European white man and former friend from his past in Africa.

The gentlemen was so amazed and outraged that this former Prince was being held a slave, he offered to buy Ibrahim but his mean and surly master, Thomas Foster refused to sell or grant him freedom.

In 1794 he married Isabella, another slave of Foster’s, and eventually fathered a large family.

In 1826 he wrote a letter to his relatives in Africa. A local newspaperman sent a copy to Senator Thomas Reed in Washington, who forwarded it to the U.S. Consulate in Morocco. After the Sultan of Morocco read the letter, he asked President Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay to release Abrahim Abdul Rahman.

He eventually returned to Africa after spending 40 years as a slave but died before reaching his actual homeland.

In 1977, history professor Terry Alford documented the life of Ibn Sori in "Prince Among Slaves", the first full account of his life, pieced together from first-person accounts and historical documents.

PBS is currently airing a documentary titled "Prince among Slaves", portraying the life of Abdul Rahman Ibrahim. It is a must see.

To Ibrahim:

Your struggle is over; your battle is done
You sit now in the Royal Court of the "Anointed One"
But your story remains as a lesson for all
With faith comes freedom til the Master calls

Rest in peace:

Karen Burney 2/7/08


Craig Manson said...


Thanks for writing about a very important story that I'm embarrassed to say I had never heard.

Anonymous said...

Thanks also for the great look out for Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori!!! I have to see the Movie!! but I think He is my Ancestor??? I know it sound unbelieve probley My Name is Abdurrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sadiq!! and me and my mom Rasheedah Sadiq look just like him!! here my email if u want to email me this is No lie!!!

Karen Burney said...

Thank you for your comments on Louisiana Lineage Legacies. Wow, you probably are related. He did have a lot of children so that means he has a lot of descendents. It is probably not a coincidence that you have a very similar name. How did you get your name? Were you named after another relative? If you are in fact related, that means that you definitely descended from royalty. I would look into if I were you. If you need help tracing your lineage, I would be glad to help.

*** FYI-I read that Abdul-Rahman and his wife Isabella had 5 sons and 4 daughters. When they were freed, they only were able to raise enough money to buy the freedom of 2 of their children and their families and he died before the others could be purchased. The others remained in the hands of their Master, Thomas Foster who died the same year as Abdul-Rahman in 1829. Foster's estate, including Abdul-Rahman's other children and grandchildren, was divided amoung Foster's heirs and scattered across Mississippi and the South. In 2006, Abdul-Rahman's descendants gathered for a family reunion at "Foster's Field". You could be one of the descendents also.

jemaw said...

An amazing History,

I am Abdurahman Ibrahim, not the one used to be slave but the one choused to be a slave, the guy who share the same 1st name and last name went back to his home back then but at this time we are coming to the western world for voluntarily for modern body chooses to be a slave but since the real slavery is pushed back to Africa and human life have no values any more since our own African leaders whom are the same color, the same religion, the same language and the same culture are worst their former masters, Italy, France, British and Portugal, the black nation have no choice but run to the only free land called USA...most people call this modern slavery but I don't think so slavery exist under any name specially in the world where I live and enjoy day and night freedom....Let us pray for those whom live in Ethiopia whom supposed to be ever free nations in the African cotenant but their history is never been above suffering from poor ruling system, starving and dyeing every day, Let us pray for those whom are prisoners for no crimes and kept in a prison for decades.
The only place we can call land of slavery is Africa, back then they were selling their own people and today when they could not find no body to buy a human they are killing arresting and the majority Africans are suffering from such a brutal actions of their own leaders not due to what white man have done, what white man have done then is just history but what black man is doing now will never be history back in Africa.
I left my home country after sufferings arrest torture and after abuse of my entire natural rights committed in Africa, what should the rest black nation learn from my history?
Specially Black Americans please call your selves an American I just got here few years a go and I do not want to call Africa as home period!!! your home is where you enjoy freedom not where your freedom got abused and you got raped or tortured!!!