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Prince among Slaves

Prince among Slaves

Prince Among Slaves is a 2007 documentary directed by Andrea Kalin of an African prince enslaved in the American South and remained faithful to Allah despite being in a strongly land. The documentary entails a 1788 slave ship from West Africa with a number of slaves including the 26-year-old Abdul Rahman Sori who was an heir to the throne of one of the Africa’s biggest kingdoms (“IslamiCity” Web). The English slavers sold him to a struggling Mississippi farmer named Thomas Foster to establish his farm. Abdul Rahman quickly escaped from the farm but returned after many weeks. On his return, Abdul utilized his leadership and his endowed intellect as well as farming knowledge to help his master become one of the richest men in Mississippi. He later married an American-born enslaved woman whom they had nine children.

Prince among Slaves

Abdul Rahman strongly believed in his right to freedom. During his enslavement, Rahman met an Irish ship surgeon whose life had been saved by his father when he was marooned in Africa thus making him the only white man who owed Abdul debt. The Irish’s several attempts to purchase Abdul Rahman’s freedom but the bond of slavery proved strong and Foster refused to sell the man he referred to as Prince. According to “IslamiCity” , after two more decades and 40 years of enslavement, Abdul met a local printer who had a friend in US Embassy in Morocco led to communication between the Moroccan Sultan and president John Quincy that eventually led to his freedom (Web).  After the successful appeal by the president to Foster, Rahman was released to go on a condition that he goes to Africa directly without being granted rights of a free man in America.

Rahman decided to work hard to get enough money to purchase his family freedom because he did not like the idea of going back to Africa immediately, which he succeeded early with his wife. He got a setback from the higher prices of his children and grandchildren, which proved too high to raise thus prompting him to give lectures and solicit for donations. He then faced President Adams whom he revealed to that he was not a Moroccan and the President refused to pay any money to assist him (“IslamiCity” Web). Nevertheless, sickness and the risk of being returned to Foster drove him to leave without his children in Africa where he further pressed for his children’s freedom but he unfortunately died barely four months after his return. Some of his children were however, purchased ultimately while others remained enslaved and to this date, Abdul Rahman legacy is alive amongst his descendants.

Prince Among Slaves is a coherent story that fits together well  and pays attention to the notions such as dates and the reality of enslavement which boosts the viewer’s confidence that it is true. Information received from the documentary is a true story that is received from a reliable source and the on our account there is a strong belief to believe that the account is very true. The period of enslavement actually took place in the 1770s and prince Rahman was captured as the history tells it. Professor Terry Alford found the document from Henry Clay’s that documented the life of Abdul Rahman that prompted him to write a full account of the Prince.

Main character is Abdul Rahman who is an African prince that remained enslaved in America for 40 years before he regained his freedom and return to Africa. He falls from a life of power and privileges into enslavement in a foreign land where he endures unimaginable indignities but marries an enslaved woman and has children. It is interesting when he regains freedom after his royal status recognized in the very land he was enslaved. He manages to rescue his wife and some of his children after making several attempts of buying freedom. Rahman is represented as a man who lived in extraordinary times but did extraordinary things such as purchasing his freedom and other aspects that interweave the theme of bondage and deliverance. He is represented as a strong vivid character in a morally complicated documentary, which touches deeply into a human experience. Through the documentary, the African America experience particularly during slavery is brought out clearly (Kalin Film). The prince is used to help in understanding his story of courage and forbearance under the meanness of circumstances through the expansion of human idea in terms of how an individual can survive and maintain dignity amid relentless assault.

Another main character is Foster who purchased Abdul Rahman, tied him with a rope and took him to his land where he was living in a single room with his small family as well as his mother in the Pine Ridge Area. However, the piece of land turned out to be Abdul’s land and his attempt to offer Foster a ransom was declined. Rahman played a major role in elevating Foster’s social status from a small farmer to the richest man in Mississippi. He switched from planting tobacco to cotton and added more acreage and he increased the number of adult slaves. He also offered Abdul Rahman little but vital priviledges such as freedom of worship, tending a small garden, selling and keeping the proceeds. He further refused to sell Rahman at any price due to his fortune but later agreed to release him on condition that he does not settle in US but leaves to Africa immediately (Kalin Film).

Point the filmmaker is making

It is apparent from the film that nothing straddled America like the slavery, which was a cruel yet critical element of the settlement as well as the continuation of the New world colonies. Slavery acted as the foundation of farming economics in the South and as the conflict between America’s bedrock values of freedom and equality that became unbearable. Telling the story of Abdul Rahman is telling a story of slavery in all its chapters that include capture and enslavement (Kalin Film). The film has highlighted the nature of international trade, terrors experienced in the middle passage, slave markets that thrived in America yet the land was based on equality. The film tells about the freedom one of the slaves got but could not be treated equally with other Americans.

According to Kalin, Abdul Rahman’s position as a prince showed the successful societies that Africans built in Africa (Film). Abdul Rahman is represented as a learned slave whose experience in Africa shaped his life in America, something that differentiates him from other African slaves. Sense of dignity and humanity fuelled Rahman’s quest for freedom in his 40 years of enslavement and eliminates the common myths that the enslaved Africans were primitive. Rahman’s skills and experience surprisingly catapulted his master’s wealth to a higher level. African slaves were not as primitive as most Americans put it, there were talented and learned people amongst them who had magnificent talents and abilities just like Rahman.

According to “IslamiCity” Prince Among Slaves launches its focus on the contrast between slavery as a brutal idea as well as an individual’s power of will (Film). This film is very interesting as it narrates the story of unusual man although the ending is not that great but it can be understandable that very few films has a perfect ending. The documentary is very engaging and offers useful education regarding slavery as well as a bit of American and African history. Slavery is presented in a real way and the documentary reveals the dehumanizing effect on the slaves. It includes many commonalities that were associated with slavery such as slave market, slave ships and large plantations that depict the real slavery experience. According to Kalin, the documentary is very watchable and the quality of production is incredible. It has a wide cast of extras and includes many details regarding the era and the scholars brought forwarded proved knowledgeable. It focuses largely on Rahman’s experience such as abbreviation of his relationship with Isabella and eliminating setting such as rise of resistance to slavery. The narrator is commendable and anyone would want to hear him more and more (Turabian 305-310).

 The film seems to lose sight of the nightmare of illogic and economics but does not illuminate it either since it proved that the slave owners did not like to free their properties. In addition, the film does not include the details regarding how it worked and the way it was challenged. Looking at the film, Rahman always manipulated whoever made assumptions relating to his background thus creating a lot of confusion. Moreover, there is a character with the ridiculous Irish accent, which makes the documentary appear a bit silly. The change of Rahman’s age is badly depicted in the film by just changing the wigs and this does not look professional (Kalin Film). However, it is also worth noting that prince Among Slave achieved its crucial and convincing end which included the numerous ways the slaves attempted to intervene in that system. It was indeed surprising to see the intelligence and abilities that Africans possessed despite being portrayed as primitive individuals who could only be sold as commodities in the slave trade.

Works Cited

“IslamiCity.” A True Story of a Prince among Slaves, 2008. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.

Kalin, Andrea, dr. Prince Among Slaves. Unity Productions Foundation, 2007. Film.

Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. , 2013. Print.

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