TRACING ONES ROOTS
Priscilla: The story of an African slave.
By Leslie Goffe BBC News, New York.
Using a rare and unbroken document trail, scholars have succeeded in tracing a 10-year old girl from her kidnap in Sierra Leone 249 years ago to her life on the plantation in the United States where she was taken, forced into slavery, and re-named Priscilla.
Thomalind Polite travelled to Sierra Leone, where her ancestor was kidnapped. Most amazing of all though, researchers have identified one of Priscilla's modern day descendants, great-great-great-great-great granddaughter, Thomalind Martin Polite, 31, who lives in South Carolina, not far from the plantation where her ancestor was a slave.
Priscilla's extraordinary story is featured in a major exhibition currently showing at the New York Historical Society, Finding Priscilla's Children: The Roots and Branches of Slavery, which can be seen until 5 March, 2006.
Earlier this year, Priscilla's descendant, Thomalind, a speech therapist, made an extraordinary "homecoming" journey to Sierra Leone at the invitation of that country's government. She met President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and other top national leaders, and was given an African name in a moving seaside ceremony.
Sierra Leone's most popular music group wrote a song in Ms Polite's honour: "Rush with the message, go tell it to the people, open the gates, Priscilla's coming home."