Arundel History

September 24, 2006

On Sept. 29, 1767, a 17-year-old slave disembarked at City Dock in Annapolis after a brutal ocean voyage from West Africa. His name, Kunta Kinte, has taken on a legendary quality, but only after the efforts two centuries later of his descendant Alex Haley.

Relying on his grandmother's memories - she was a family griot, or storyteller - Haley sought to memorialize Kinte's life in his international best-seller, Roots.

According to Haley family history, Kinte was sold into slavery in a town called "Naplis." Maryland was then a busy center for the burgeoning slave trade to the American Colonies.

Haley's research identified a slave ship, the Lord Ligonier, which sailed from the Gambia River on July 5, 1767, with 140 captured Gambians.

It arrived at its destination with only 98 survivors.

The Gambians were sold into slavery on Oct. 7, according to an advertisement in the Maryland Gazette. Today, a memorial on the waterfront honors Kinte and Haley.

Next weekend, the annual Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival will be held at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds.

[Source: The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, Inc. and Paul McCardell, Sun library researcher.]

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