The Extraordinary Tale of Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori

Man thrives by the principles he holds dear in his heart. It is those principles that equip a man with an unwavering attitude to aspire to be his truest self. 

I know it has been quite a while since I have featured another piece of What I wish I would have learned in school; these series of blogs attempt to depict various odysseys of historical figures who managed to rise above the predicaments of an oppressive system. It was Frederick Douglass who once said, “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. I feel now is the time to reclaim our narratives, because in school, we are seldom taught about the great empires of Mansa Musathe Moors, or the Kilwa kingdom; the traditional curriculum seems to revolve around the Middle Passage when in fact there was livity and prosperity among the Black culture long before our plight.  A close brother of mine shared with me this story, and after reading about it: I felt a strong conviction to share his story and what I admired most about his journey. This is the triumphing tale of “an African royal slave who was forcefully sent across the Atlantic in shackles” and managed to make the most of every presented opportunity to return home. His story is an insight to the cruelties of slavery, but also to how many individuals succeeded in handling such calamitous predicaments. 

This is the story of prince Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori, an African royal slave who was forcefully taken from his kingdom and managed to outwit his master to endow the means to return home: 

This 26-year-old prince was supposedly heir to one of Africa’s most influential kingdoms. “After being kidnapped in 1788 by enemy troops in his native land of Fouta Djallon in what is now Guinea”. The royal slave arrived in Natchez, Mississippi at the height of the global slave trade. Sori was a well-educated aristocrat in Islam and politics, fluent in five different languages. Sori, in denial of his new reality, fled the cotton plantations and found refuge in the wilderness. Realizing that his return was unlikely, he eventually came to terms with his situation. He sought to find a way to make himself indispensable by becoming an adviser to his master and helping him to become one of the region’s leading cotton producers. In a remarkable twist of serendipity, Sori crossed paths with a British surgeon, whom was cared for by Sori’s family after surviving a shipwreck. This British surgeon then proceeded to buy Sori’s freedom despite how valuable he was to his master. Eventually his story broke nationwide, and Sori’s story started gaining attention and the support of many, which paved way for his emancipation. His quest to return home gained so much notoriety that he was able to receive sponsorship from president John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson who was preparing for a presidential campaign used this tale as a tool to ridicule Adams. After a wearisome journey of perseverance, Sori was able to set across the Atlantic Ocean once again, this time joined by his wife, they arrived in Monrovia, Liberia in 1829. Unfortunately, he would not live long enough to return to his native kingdom. Weakened by the journey, he contracted a fever and died at the age of 67. 

Sori’s story is insightful and liberating in so many ways, it is the story of a man with a steadfast belief system that paved a way to reclaim his freedom. If his story is not a testament to what attitude and character can do for man, I am clueless as to what can. Sori’s story is a message of hope, triumph amidst hardship. It is this type of character, empathy, and morality we should all aspire to embody. In fact, it is present in all humanity, but culture has a way to dim that presence for unknown reasons. My sincere hope through these stories is to show that there is life beyond whatever circumstances one may be in, whether it be career-related or personal. Black kids, in particular, should not only aspire to be entertainers or athletes. The media has successfully painted a deceiving lie, that success can only be attained through those channels. I beg to differ; man holds within himself an abundance of potential and gifts waiting to be manifested. One just has to find a set of principles (non-negotiables) that he strongly believes in, to pave the way for personal success.  Dare to dream, keep showing love, and never fold your integrity, things will eventually turn out for the better

Run your own marathon…

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