Volunteers track down descendants of players in story of Ibrahima

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; For David Dreyer of Indianapolis, finding descendants of enslaved prince Ibrahima has become a fascinating puzzle he’s determined to solve.

For Kathy Moody of Adams County, finding descendants of those who had a hand in freeing the African prince is simply a labor of love, a favor for a friend, Ibrahima descendant Artemis Gaye.

But thanks to the efforts of Dreyer, Moody and others associated with the event, dozens of descendants of the players in this real-life drama have been located and invited to this weekend’s Freedom Fest.

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The festival, which will be centered in and around the Natchez Community Center Saturday, will be a celebration of the 175th anniversary of the freeing of Ibrahima.

The prince’s story &uot;has been of great fascination to all of Natchez,&uot; Moody said. &uot;Everyone who’s interested in history has considered it an interesting story.&uot;

The story of Ibrahima is a fascinating one not just because he was a prince &045; there are a few instances of other princes who were slaves in America, Dreyer pointed out.

He believes the story is also important because it illuminates the situation of slaves throughout that period.

&uot;He (Ibrahima) was an overseer on the plantation, and his family was instrumental in building it,&uot; Dreyer said. &uot;That was the situation of many of those who were enslaved. He represents many people. We just don’t have their stories.&uot;

Dreyer, a retired fiscal analyst, said his interest in Ibrahima started when he read a book about the story, Terry Alford’s &uot;Prince Among Slaves,&uot; five or six years ago. To compile information on Ibrahima’s descendants, Dreyer has traveled to courthouses and other depositories throughout the region, gathering census data, plantation records and other documents.

Moody admitted that the search for descendants of other key figures like Thomas Foster and John Cox has been much easier, since many of them still live in southwest Mississippi.

Those who will be attending Freedom Fest include Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster who, in a re-enactment, will portray his ancestor, Thomas Foster.

Descendants will also be introduced during ceremonies to be held Saturday morning.

The story of Ibrahima &045; and of descendants gathering to remember that story &045; has attracted the attention of such media outlets as USA Today and PBS, which are expected to cover the event, Moody said.

&uot;It’s attracting national attention,&uot; Moody said.