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Manuscript. Arabic writing of Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima
Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima (c. 1762-1829) was a native of Timbo, Futa Jallon, in what is now the West African nation of Guinea. He was the son of the Fulbe chief Ibrahima Yoro Pate Sori, and was educated at the centers of Islamic learning in Sori's empire. Following his capture on a military expedition he was sold into slavery, ultimately working for some 40 years on a Natchez, Mississippi cotton plantation owned by Thomas Foster. Through an unlikely chain of events Abd al-Rahman's identity as an "African prince" who could read and write Arabic came to be recognized and celebrated, and in 1828 he and his wife were emancipated. To raise money for the purchase of his children's freedom, Abd al-Rahman undertook a sponsored tour of the Northeast, appearing as an exotic in "Moorish costume" and demonstating his literacy by producing written passages in Arabic. This manuscript is just such a souvenir, apparently acquired in Boston by then-Massachusetts Congressman Edward Everett (1794-1865). The Arabic script is crudely accomplished and the text is not entirely comprehensible. Abd al-Rahman identifies himself by name in the first line, and follows this with other biographical information and Muslim invocations.