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Ibn Sori in "Prince Among Slaves", the first full account of his life, pieced together from first-person accounts and historical documents.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.
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