Published on Jan 13, 2016
The documentary Kunta Kinteh Island: Coming Home Without Shackles is a powerful intersection of African and American history. Elvin Ross makes his directorial debut as he shines a light on this fascinating story that celebrates the strength and spirit of the Gambian people, and introduces this important part of history to a new generation. Kunta Kinteh Island: Coming Home Without Shackles chronicles the pride, strength and journey of the most celebrated captive African, Kunta Kinteh. The saga of Kunta Kinteh’s life was characterized and featured in an American made-for-TV movie and book entitled Roots, created by his descendent Alex Haley. The book and film highlighted the life of an African warrior-in-training who was enslaved and brought to the New World, the Americas, during the West African Slave Trade.
During this forced exodus, Kunta Kinteh was captured and transported to James Island where he was held captive for 15 days before being shipped as cargo to the Americas. Â Recently, Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia, reclaimed and renamed the old British Fortress from James Island to KUNTA KINTEH ISLAND to honor his legacy.Â Although Kunta Kinteh was captured, shackled and abducted from his homeland, his legacy returns home to Jufferreh, The Gambia, West Africa, without shackles.
Filmmaker, Elvin Ross, makes his debut as writer and director for this epic documentary feature. Elvin and his production company, e. ross studios, captured the spirit and essence of the Gambian people during the Roots Festival in February 2011 whereby the island is renamed. The ruins of the fortress, which were restored through grants from both the Netherlands and the USA, serve as a backdrop to this film. As a means of introducing the subject matter to a younger audience, veteran actor Ben Vereen offers a dramatic rendering of a grandfather re-telling his family’s history to his young grandson.Â Vereen brilliantly introduces a past, which includes present-day interviews with Kinteh family members that still reside in Juffureh.Â This documentary highlights the pride of a people that were so strong that they were known as some of the greatest hunters and warriors on the continent. This movie focuses on the lessons taught by Kunta Kinteh’s grandmother, Yaisa, which rang as truths in his spirit, freeing his mind even when he lost his physical freedom. Because of the lessons he learned, today’s African American may return to the Mother Land with heads held high, knowing that they can survive any obstacle and flourish in any environment as long as they stay true to their inner convictions.