Meet Kwame Anthony Appiah, not only in Wikipedia, but also in person, on Monday, December 5, at 6:30 p.m., when the Princeton Public Library screens “Prince Among Slaves,” the PBS documentary for which he was the consulting scholar. Terry Alford, author of the biography on which the film was based, will also speak. The program is free, and refreshments will be served.
Appiah’s interests include political and moral theory, the philosophy of language and mind, and African intellectual theory; he is known as a critic of the Afro-centric world view.
One of his books, In My Father’s House
, is described as a wide ranging collection of essays, “covering everything from Pan Africanism, to the works of early African-American intellectuals such as Alexander Crummell and W.E.B. Du Bois, to the ways in which African identity influences African literature.”
The story of Abdul Rahman Sori, who is profiled in Prince Among Slaves, is taken from the promotional materials for the documentary which premiered on PBS 2008.
In 1788 a slave-ship set sail from West Africa, its berth laden with a profitable but fragile cargo: hundreds of men, women and children bound in chains and headed for American shores. Eight months later the survivors were sold in Natchez, Mississippi. Among them was the 26-year-old Abdul Rahman Sori, heir to the throne of one of the largest kingdoms in Africa.
Captured in an ambush, he was sold to English slavers for a few muskets and some rum. After enduring the brutal Middle Passage to America, he was purchased by a struggling Mississippi farmer named Thomas Foster. Foster hoped that the strong African would help establish his farm.
Sustained by his deep faith and drawing from his well-honed intellect, Abdul Rahman applied his leadership abilities and knowledge about crops such as cotton to help Foster eventually become one of the wealthiest men in Mississippi. In the meantime, Abdul Rahman married an American-born enslaved woman, and together they had nine children.
Co-sponsored by the library, Unity Productions and Not In Our Town Princeton, this program is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.