// Review of PBS documentary - Prince Among Slaves
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jannah
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« on: Jan 24, 2008 06:47 PM »





In 1828, Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, an African prince enslaved for forty years in the American South, set out across the country to share his life story in an attempt to secure his family's freedom from slavery.

Little did he know that nearly two hundred years later, his remarkable journey full of dramatic circumstances and immeasurable odds would be pieced together to become a source of inspiration for millions of people.

Prince Among Slaves , a new documentary by Unity Productions Foundation, will air nationwide on PBS on Monday, February 4, 2008, at 10 PM (check local listings at www.pbs.org).

The one-hour film, narrated by Mos Def, tells the tale of a little known African American hero, who despite enduring unimaginable indignities, managed to survive his long fall from royalty with character and integrity intact.

By highlighting this amazing historical period, Prince Among Slaves also attempts to create discussion and awareness about slavery, race relations, societies of Africa, and the lessons of American history.

We hope that you will join us as on February 4th to watch this compelling story and help spread the word about Prince Among Slaves. Below are a number of simple, but important ways you can help UPF share Abdul Rahman's inspiring story.

www.princeamongslaves.tv
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 04, 2008 01:41 PM »

All,

Prince Among Slaves

PBS Monday Febuary 4, 2008. 10pm (Check local pbs schedule pbs.org)

Another documentary by Alexander Kronomer (also produced Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain)

to watch trailer http://www.princehouston.org

I watched Houston premiere Saturday and this film documentary is great, also has commentary by Imam Zaid Shakir and Sh. Hamza Yousaf

This is about Prince AbdulRehman from W. Africa who is taken as a slave to America and his story of survival and Islamic spirit

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« Reply #2 on: Feb 05, 2008 04:21 AM »

 peace be upon you

This was a great documentary, by all standards. Everyone please watch it!

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« Reply #3 on: Feb 05, 2008 05:08 AM »

wsalam,

AbdulBasir I thought you were gonna write a thorough interesting review so was all excited to read it boo Sad

So I'll write something about it in the meanwhile while u get ur thoughts together?? inshallah Smiley

The documentary is about an African prince from near Timbuktu (an ancient and glorious center of Islamic learning) who gets captured and sent to America as a slave. He survives (many didn't) and is sent up the Mississippi to be a slave on a cotton farm. He lives the next 40 years of his life as a slave and many interesting 'coincidences' along the way bring him close to his homeland once again.

It was a very heart-wrenching and touching journey and everyone should watch it just to understand the ugliness and ill-treatment that existed. That slavery of this kind was practiced by other humans, was argued for, fought for and killed over and that ppl used religious texts from the bible to justify it is an important thing to note for the sake of history. That racism and ill knowledge of another people make humans do horrible things is something we should never forget.

I was so happy to see Imam Zaid and Hamza Yusuf up there as commentators and very grateful that Imam Zaid said at the beginning that slavery in the US was nothing like it was in Africa. I would have liked to see them concentrate more on the religious aspect but I guess because it was PBS they didn't want to make it all sound pro-muslim. All in all very beautiful. I wish I could read his diary. Didn't it auction for a few million or something to Harvard? Ahh well one day inshaAllah.




:::SPOILER:::


I loved the ending! The reunion thing was so great, but what disgusted me is that all those people had Foster in their last name!! They took the name of their slave owner??!! The one that refused to release Abdul Rahman for 20 years because he wanted to use him more even after Cox offered him double, triple! The Foster who's son took advantage of AR's daughter. Ewww I hope now that they know they go change their names. Really that's just horrible.

It also saddened me to see all those people who were descendants of a Muslim man who did keep his faith no matter what, now as Christians or something else. His diary proves he tried to keep his faith and heritage and what he remembered of the Quran. He wrote the Fatiha as the Lord's prayer! The day he stepped foot onto African soil again he prayed. And now all these children and children's children of his were probably die hard Christians or something not realizing what they had done to their forefather. Scary.



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« Reply #4 on: Feb 05, 2008 12:56 PM »

Quote
And now all these children and children's children of his were probably die hard Christians or something not realizing what they had done to their forefather. Scary

Nothing unusual in my neck of the woods... We had a lot of Arabs migrate here in the 20's... all of their kids are "lost."
We see it all the time in the Obituaries. Father Abdullah, mother Amina- son is John, daughter Sarah... grandchildren Mary, Bob and Tom....

"Allah surely knows the warmth of every teardrop... " Jaihoon
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 06, 2008 11:46 AM »

As salaamu alaikum

I only ended up catching the last half of this film but what I did see was quite good indeed.  Yes, it is terrible how every group's religious texts can be manipulated to justify whatever "evils" someone (or group of someones) wants to promote.

The reason why slaves "took" the last names of their "owners" is that they had no other choice.  Even after slavery in the US ended there was no alternative, otherwise they would have had no last name.  It is tragic that so many that were forcibly brought here were Muslim but due to the conditions they had to endure, Christianity was all that was available to them and time spent sitting through the services meant that same time was not spent working the fields.

Sadly, many people that immigrate to the US give their children more "mainstream" names so that they don't "stick out" or those that were given traditional names opt to use nicknames that fit more with the dominant culture.

As salaamu alaikum

Fa'izah
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 06, 2008 10:10 PM »

 peace be upon you

Quote
Nothing unusual in my neck of the woods... We had a lot of Arabs migrate here in the 20's... all of their kids are "lost."
We see it all the time in the Obituaries. Father Abdullah, mother Amina- son is John, daughter Sarah... grandchildren Mary, Bob and Tom....

there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a non arabic name even if the forefathers were arabs! 

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« Reply #7 on: Feb 07, 2008 12:09 AM »


there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a non arabic name even if the forefathers were arabs! 


It indicates the children are most likely not Muslim. There could be exceptions of course, like reverts like our own Sr. Kathy or sometimes ppl like certain names, but most of the time if someone has a 'Christian name' ie a name from the Bible in English they are most likely not Muslim.
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 10, 2008 07:47 PM »

Here's some information from Alex's website. It's very long but an interesting read so here's the beginning part. Click on the link for the rest.

Code:
Prince Among Slaves: A Documentary Film Project
Overview

Some biographies help us understand the broad historical themes and issues of the period during which the subject lived. Others appeal to the universal emotions of the human experience. And some simply entertain us with vivid characters and nearly novelistic events. One compelling story that does all three is Prince Among Slaves. A 90-minute documentary aimed for broadcast on PBS, it tells the true story of an African prince who was sold into slavery in the American South in 1788. His name was Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, and he remained enslaved for forty years before ultimately regaining his freedom and returning to Africa.

The broad outline of Abdul Rahman’s biography reads like a fairytale: A young prince falls from a life of power and privilege into exile and enslavement in a strange land. There he endures unimaginable indignities, yet carves out a life, marries a woman enslaved like himself, and has children. Then, through improbable circumstances, he is granted his freedom and returns to his homeland, manages to rescue his wife and children from enslavement, and sees his royal status recognized in the very land that held him in bondage.

But the story did not take place in a fantasyland. Rather, it happened in the United States, during the foundational period of American history. Arriving in the United States just after the country adopted the Constitution, Abdul Rahman remained enslaved until the fateful election of 1828, a forty-year period when early divisions between North and South began to grow and the contradictions deepened between the ideals of liberty and equality to which the country was dedicated and a dependence on slave labor that many considered essential to the national economy. Abdul Rahman lived his life against the backdrop of this eventful period of history, and his story sheds new light on all its essential themes.

Through his dramatic biography, Prince Among Slaves will probe deeply into the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Beginning from its sources in Africa, the film will examine the slave routes that brought enslaved Africans like Abdul Rahman to America. From his story, we learn how the “business” of slavery worked, and about the social, economic and political factors that lured Africans, Europeans, and Americans alike to participate in it. As his story continues, we see how enslaved Africans worked within their limited circumstances to create lives for themselves. We also see the country’s first attempts to reconcile the conflict between the desire for freedom of enslaved persons like Abdul Rahman and the nation’s economic and social dependence on the “peculiar institution.”

Our story also sheds light on the surprising and little known history of the early religious and cultural lives of newly enslaved Africans in post-Revolutionary America. It reveals the early anti-slavery movement and delves into the characters of the African-born enslaved people, who have received scant attention on American television since audiences were mesmerized in the 1970s by the story of Kunta Kinte on the groundbreaking series “Roots.”
Thoroughly researched and documented in Terry Alford’s biography of the same name1 Prince Among Slaves comes alive through first-person accounts as well as letters, photographs and historical records that taken together paint a vivid picture of the extraordinary times in which Abdul Rahman lived. Newspaper articles, numerous diaries, plantation registers, advertisements for slave sales, and church sermons provide depth and a fuller context to the story, which interweaves themes of bondage and deliverance, pride, forbearance, guile and providence. With strong, vivid characters animating a great, morally complicated narrative, we also learn about a long-forgotten group—America’s first Muslims. Abdul Rahman was among the tens of thousands of African Muslims who were captured and brought to the America through the slave trade.

This window on history is also a story of universal themes that reach deeply into the human experience. The archetypal tale of the prince becoming a pauper so ignites our imagination that it is found worldwide in folklore, myth and religion. When paradise is lost, what do people do? What happens when a person of power becomes powerless?

The true story of Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori, the prince who became enslaved in Mississippi, does more than help us better understand the American, African, and African American experiences; it also expands our understanding of the human experience.

Continued....
http://alexkronemer.com/work1.htm
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« Reply #9 on: Jun 26, 2008 09:54 PM »

As salaamu alaikum

As a follow-up I bought a copy of the documentary because I wanted to be able to watch it in its entirety when I could do so according to my own schedule. 

And to answer the query (which I don't think was responded to) yes it was common practice for African slaves in the US to be given their "master's" last name since they were considered property and not human.  As such if a slave was sold to someone else they were then given that person's last name.  Once freedom came since slaves generally didn't know who their forefathers were and thus no idea of their names they kept the only last name they had ever known.  This was part of the reason (as I understand it) why within the NOI many people changed their last name to X because they didn't know who they really were.

Same applies to why so many ended up converting to Christianity; the slave owners used biblical interpretations to justify African slavery and would only permit slaves to practice Christianity.  Some did of course remain true to their birth faith and instill it in their children for as long as they could (was not uncommon for children to be sold away from their parents even at young age).

Fa'izah
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