Known as “Khabir the Storyteller”, Khabir Shareef has been an actor since 1987. Khabir believes that “the story is a shared experience where the teller and the listeners become united through the use of their imaginations.” First-person interpretation is one of many ways a story may be told and shared. Khabir’s presentation has universal appeal and enhances understanding of African-American history and culture.
Ibrahima Abd Ar Rahman Ibn Sori
Ibrahima was one of the favorite sons of Sori, King of the Pullo, and had just returned from the fabled school of Timbuctu when he received his military commission. After achieving several victories, he was promoted to the rank of colonel at the age of 26.
In 1788, Ibrahima was sent to defeat the non-Muslim Hebohs who were disrupting his fathers’ lucrative slave trade with the Europeans. Although the Hebohs scattered upon his approach, they laid a trap for him, after he had sent the majority of his 2000 warriors ahead to their home in Timbo.
Ibrahima, Prince of Futa Jalon, was captured, sent down the Gambia River to the coast and sold as a mere slave to the British slavers. It was here that Ibrahima began a 3000 mile Atlantic ocean trip to the slave markets of the Caribbean. A place designed to “season” a slave - remove any sense of dignity and hope of freedom.
Instead of being able to return to the “land of living waters, of fruit trees of faith, and of liberty, “ as the Fulbe called their home, he was taken another 1600 miles to the slave markets of Spanish New Orleans located near the mouth of the Mississippi River! Thus began the new life of the former prince, now a slave.
Ibrahima Abd Ar Rahman Ibn Sori
Captured in 1794 and held for 40 years as a slave, the former African Prince, Ibrahima, proved valuable to his slave owner. His regal carriage, knowledge, honesty, and natural leadership eventually led to him to be overseer of the Natchez, Mississippi plantation. The owner, Thomas Foster, a small farmer with two slaves, became a major land owner with over 100 slaves.
Ibrahima was permitted to grow his own garden & sold produce in the city. It was here that he met Dr. John Cox - again. Ibrahima was a youth in Futa Jalon, W. Africa when the doctor had been abandoned by his ship and became lost & ill while traveling in Africa in the 1780s.
Sori, the African King and Ibrahima’s father, personally saw to the protection, welfare and full recovery of doctor Cox while ahe was a guest at Sori’s court. Cox recognized Ibrahima in Natchez and immediately went to work on confirming Ibrahima’s royal status & seeking his freedom.
Foster refused to free Ibrahima at any price. It was years later, mistaking Ibrahima for a Moor, that abolitionists, and Henry Clay, the Secretary of State, saw to it that Ibrahima secured his freedom. Still, his wife and nine children were still held in servitude.
Ibrahima Ab Ar Rahman Ibn Sori
After 40 years of enslavement, in 1829, at the age of 67 years-old, Ibrahima, named Prince by his owner, became a free man. It was “a queer and joyous feeling … I cannot describe it … only that it seemed like I was in heaven.“ Prince traveled to several prominent cities soliciting funds in hopes of buying the freedom of his remaining family still held in captivity. He had the good fortune to meet and converse with President Adams!
Eventually, he was able to secure the freedom of his wife, Isabella. Prince was still versed in writing Arabic. He often wrote Al Fatiha and other verses from the Quran; many were fascinated with his ability to do so. While in Washington, someone helped him to draft a letter in English to his children in Natchez. He informed them that he was well and not to give up hope.
Prince, however, was unable to secure the funds required to buy his families, including 8 grandchildren’s freedom. He was confident once he reached his home land, he would be able to acquire the money he needed to do so.
His striving and planning have finally come to fruition. Today he is to board the Harriette, the ship that will carry he, Isabella, and other freedmen, to Liberia. Liberia is a colony set aside in West Africa for the repatriation of former Africans from American slavery.
This voyage, unlike the previous, would not be an experience of terror, but of joy and anticipation instead. He knew he would not weld great power once he returned home. But at least he was free!
Abdu-Rahman Ibrahim - The Prince Among Slaves
The Living History Heritage Project