"I was lonelier than Kunta Kinte at a Merle Haggard concert that night..."

This was my introduction to Kunta Kinte. Not a particularly glamourous introduction I'm sure you'll agree. For reasons I can't really understand, his story (told in Roots), never made it to England. At least, it was never as popular if it did get here.

Kunta Kinte was born in 1750 to Omoro and Binta. And was sent to manhood training, but was kidnapped in 1767 by slave traders and placed aboard the slave ship Lord Ligonier. The ship was no picnic, there was much in the way of harsh treatment and even a rebellion, but it finally arrived at Baltimore and he is sold at auction in Annapolis.

He became friends with a slave trainer, named Fiddler, and was given the slave name Toby which he refused to accept, and attempts to escape. This put a tension on the relationship he has with Fiddler. Later he succeeded in escaping several times, and was once caught by slave hunters, who beat him severely. This is how he met his wife Belle Waller, who nursed him back to health. When the next opportunity to escape presented itself next, Kunta decided to choose his family over freedom, and goes on to have a child with Belle in 1790. The child was named kizzy, which means "stay put".

Kizzy was eventually sold off to a plantation owner who got her pregnant with "Chicken George". Kunte never saw her again, as he died before she returned.

Kunta Kinte is Alex Haley's great-great-great-great-grandfather, Alex researched his family history and then wrote what was to become a best-selling book, Roots, which was later converted into a TV miniseries in 1977. The show reached an unprecedented popularity and the legacy of Kunta Kinte inspired thousands of people to research their own family history.

In the miniseries, Roots, Kunta Kinte is played by Levar Burton (as a youngster), and John Amos (as he grew older).

Note, this information is garnered from the mini-series (or rather, the episode guides thereof)

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