Concord Times (Freetown)

20 May 2005

Sierra Leone: Salone to Rewrite Its Slave History

Freetown — "Priscilla's home coming" is a documentary project currently being undertaken by Professor Joseph Opala, a researcher whose contribution in rewriting the history of Sierra Leone was first appreciated in 1989 and in 1997 with film documentaries that chronicled Gullah "homecoming".

His latest endeavor "Priscilla's homecoming" became feasible after a research off the Sierra Leonean coast led him to the New York Historical Society in search of records of the Hare, the slave cargo believed to have, in 1756, taken Priscilla, 9 to Charleston in the USA. He found letters linking Priscilla to the Martin family in South Carolina.

According to professor Opala, he first approached the Martin family with the idea of a "homecoming" voyage to Sierra Leone and have a documentary film. Thomalind Martin Polite was only one great-great grand daughter who volunteered since she had lost her father in 1998.

"I know how much my father would like to have gone if he were alive," Polite was quoted to have said and adds, "because it has become so important to me as well, I jumped at the chance to be part of it and to see where Priscilla came from." The government through the ministry of Tourism and Culture in July 2003 extended an invitation letter asking Mrs Thomalind Martin Polite to come to Sierra Leone. "There is every reason to believe that your ancestor, Priscilla, came from our country and that Sierra Leone is your ancestral home ... (We) can assure you ... that thousands of our people will be anxious to greet you, their long-lost family... from South Carolina," part of the comment reads.

Honoring this invitation, Thomalind Martin Polite together with her husband, Antwan, and a group of US journalists, academics, including an American film documentary film team led by Jacque Metz are due in the country on May 26 2005.

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