Millions of Africans were forcefully taken from their homes and sold into slavery during the years of the Transatlantic slave trade. Unfortunately, it is hard to trace every single African who found themselves in the Caribbean, America or Europe mainly because white slave traders had not kept names in documents. Moreover, the names of Africans were changed by their white owners for easier identification and pronunciation purposes.
Through the outstanding lives they lived, a few enslaved Africans and their children have been identified and traced back to their African roots while several living blacks in the diaspora have been able to trace their roots to Africa as well.
African royals were also not spared in the days of the Transatlantic slave trade as several kings and queens, princesses and princes were captured or taken for one reason or the other. Due to their royalty, it was easier to trace and document their lives.
Here are five African princes who were heir to powerful thrones but were taken away by Westerners at very young ages.
William Ansah Sessarakoo – Ghana
Prince William Ansah Sessarakoo whose original name was Eno Baise Kurentsi was the son of a chief in Ghana’s Central Region. In 1748, hoping that he could gain a western education in England, his father Chief John Corrente put his 12-year-old son in the care of British officials making a return to England. Unfortunately for the prince, he was sold into slavery by Captain David Bruce, the captain of the ship and taken to Jamaica where he worked as a slave until he was recognised by a Fanti trader who sent information to Chief John Corrente. He was taken back to England under the protection of George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax. Eventually, Prince William Ansah was returned to his father and later worked in the Cape Coast Castle as an interpreter and writer.
Prince Alemayehu – Ethiopia
At the age of 7, Prince Alemayehu is believed to have been stolen by British soldiers who looted his father’s imperial fortress in 1868. His father was Emperor Tewodros II who ruled over Ethiopia from 1855 till his death in 1868 during the Battle of Maqdala. Prince Alemayehu died of an illness at the age of 18 after suffering racism and was buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle at the request of Queen Victoria. For 150 years, Ethiopians have been fighting the British to return looted items from the Emperor’s fortress including his hair and the remains of his son.
Prince Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori – Guinea
Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori was born in 1762 in Timbo, modern-day Guinea, of noble blood, more specifically, of the Torodbe Fulani Muslim tribe and also held the title of commander. In 1788 at the age of 26, his father bestowed upon him the title of Emir. He was in charge of a 2000-man army. During one of their military operations, he was captured and enslaved, eventually being sold to the British. The British subsequently sold him to Thomas Foster, a slave master located in Natchez, Mississippi. Sori was enslaved and owned by Foster for 40 years. In 1826, Sori sent a letter to his family members in Africa. The letter was intercepted by a Dutch newspaper printer named Andrew Marschalk. The Sultan of Morocco, Abderrahmane read the letter and asked then-President John Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay to release Sori. In 1829, Foster agreed to the release of Sori for no payment in return. The caveat was that Sori had to leave the U.S. immediately and return to Africa. He embarked for Monrovia, Liberia. After living in Liberia for four months, Sori contracted a fever and died at the age of 67.
Prince Ayuba Suleiman Diallo – Senegal
Ayuba Suleiman Diallo was born in 1701 in Bundu; present-day Senegal. Also known as Job Ben Solomon, Diallo was a descendant of Muslim Fulbe religious leaders. His grandfather was the founder of Bundu. Diallo was also a merchant and scholar. In 1730, Diallo and his interpreter Loumein Yoas also referred to as Lamine Jay, Lahamin Joy, Lahmin Jay, Lamine Ndiaye and Loumein Ybai were captured by members of the Mandinka tribe. This occurred by the Gambia river. They were subsequently sold to the Royal African Company. Diallo was settled in Annapolis, Maryland, where he continued practicing his faith until he became a person of interest due to his knowledge of theology. In 1733, Diallo was sent to England upon request. It was there that he learned to communicate in English. He was also able to infiltrate the clique of the London elite. In July of 1734, Diallo was finally able to return to the Gambia. His newfound homeland had been destroyed by war, his wives were remarried and his father died.
William Kofi Nti – Ghana
His real name is Nana Kofi Ntim, son of (Asantehene) King Karikari who was the 10th ruler of the powerful Ashanti Kingdom in present-day Ghana. Like several royals in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) Prince Nana Kofi Ntim was sent to the UK to gain an education. He was sent to Barbados which had better weather conditions after the death of another Ashanti prince he embarked on the journey with. He was educated and later worked with the British army. He is most remembered for designing and leading in the construction of a Victorian-style building in 1883 on the hills to the west of Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago which was then used as a signal station for the port and army. Inspired by the designs from home in Africa and Britain, Prince Kofi Ntim was given the contract by the British to design the signal station which replaced parts of Fort George. Prince Ntim returned home later in life but resettled in England after inner conflicts he had with his people’s tradition and culture.