Courage and Discovery: Analysis of A Princess Found “YOU ARE A PRINCESS!! ” screamed her uncle. “You can be a Paramount Chief one day! Your grandfather was one and your uncle is one! “. For a twenty eight year old American biracial woman who just wanted to find her birth father, that is a lot to swallow! The two tales across 7548 kilometers that eventually become one, is the memoir of Sarah Culberson’s, A Princess Found, is about the longing for an identity beyond skin color that is well explained with her internationally noted quest for her father.
Published by St. Martin’s Press, it as a book of the questioning of biological background and a biracial woman’s emotional burden of negotiating the world of racial identity. Quite the paradox; set in a predominantly Caucasian town while being authored by an African American. The point of this book is to reveal man’s obliviousness to human suffering and destruction when focusing on self. Sarah Culberson, also known as Esther Kposowa, grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia.
She attended University High School and eventually stayed close to home by attending West Virginia University, where she earned a B. A. in Theatre. She moved and graduated from The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco with a Masters in Fine Arts and joined the Los Angeles acting community. Sarah has been seen acting on the stage as well as in TV and films. Some of which are The Secret Life of The American Teenager and American Dreamz. She has also danced with a professional salsa dance company called Conta-Tiempo. She is currently the Director of Service Learning at Oakwood School.
When she is not at the Oakwood school or acting, she travels the country interviewing award-winning African writers on her new show, Behind the Words, on the Africa Channel. She and many others head up fundraising with the goal of improving education for young people and rebuilding Sierra Leone. She lives in Los Angeles, California. Her work is credible and proven to have been written by her due to the fact that she had documented videotapes of her Sierra Leone adventures and photos of her life growing up. This story starts off with a retelling of the rebel’s brainwashing and takeover of the local villages.
Culberson, whose birth mother was white and father black-narrates in the first person, telling of her adoption as an infant in 1977 by Jim and Judy Culberson, who happily raised the orphan with their own daughters in the predominantly white community of Morgantown, West Virginia. The other narrative thread is the struggle for survival by Culberson’s real father, Joe Konia Kposowa, and extended family as they fled the violent insurgency (Civil war) that ripped apart Sierra Leone in the mid-’90s. Most little girls dream of being a princess, but for Sarah Culberson, royalty was a surprising reality.
When she turned 18, she decided to find out more about her biological parents, and with the support of her adoptive parents, she hired a private investigator. Her search uncovered that her birth mother, who had worked at West Virginia University, had passed away from cancer. As a girl growing up, Culberson was accused by other blacks of not being “black enough. ” Gradually she grew more curious about her biological parents and found out that her deceased mother, Lillian (“Penny”), had been working at a university cafeteria when she met Kposowa, the son of the “Paramount Chief” of his village.
After Penny got pregnant, the couple decided to give the baby up for adoption, and Kposowa went back to Africa. She, through another church member, finds the contact information for her mother’s family. She was anxious to find out how they would react. Her mother’s foster mom and sister welcomed her with open arms and told her stories of when she was an infant. The warm welcome she received from her birth mother’s family, along with the love and support of her adoptive family, left Sarah hungry to know more and ready to take the risks, although the search wasn’t always mooth. At one point, she met with the rejection she feared most (one of her mother’s relatives told her she was not to contact them ever again because they never wanted the other family to know she existed) and it caused her to back off from her search, but eventually, she faced her fear. She also received encouragement from unexpected places. One such person, a hairdresser from Nigeria, knew African culture and customs and assured Sarah that she’d be welcomed. The private investigator searched and found a Joseph Kposowa in Maryland.
She, of course, was nervous but contacted them too. Imagine her surprise when it was her aunt and uncle who said that her birth father, however, was living in Bumpe, Sierra Leone. If that wasn’t enough of a shock, she found out that her grandfather had been the Paramount Chief and African royalty. Sarah was a princess, a Mahaloi, the child of a Paramount Chief. The juxtaposition of the two narratives is deliberately jarring. Taking place in Morgantown and during the civil war in Sierra Leone.
While Culberson was being crowned Homecoming Queen, her family and other Mende people faced ambush, amputations-a favorite terror tactic of the rebels—and homelessness. You’ll cackle and cry with Sarah, as you relive her experiences, emotions, struggles, and shock. From meeting a huge new family, being honored with the head of an animal on a tray, phone calls at 3 a. m. requesting money for a bicycle, and introducing her adoptive family to her biological families, this story is a roller coaster ride with all the jolts and jars of a trip down to Bumpe.
Fortunately, there are also happy endings. The theme is the most obvious when Sarah is going to Sierra Leone and she asks her dad if she can bring the schoolchildren tshirts of her school. She was in the mindset of all the kids needed were clothes, while in reality they needed school desks so they could receive an education. This book has a misleading title. Though she is royalty, the book kind of plays it off and does not expand on it. Her travel and anxious thoughts of finding her birth parents are the large majority of the last half of the book.
Other than that, Sarah’s story is an informative journey through her history, as well as an enlightening glimpse into the lives of her families as they build a future together. This living history lesson shows the reader how events and decisions that seem far removed from real people can affect everyday life. This is a lesson most of us never internalize. The colorful descriptions and cross-cultural interpretations by both of the authors enhance this account and make it accessible to readers of all backgrounds.
My only wish is that the authors had included a bit more information about the correct pronunciation of the Mende, words. A The use of rhetoric is shown in the categories of mainly pathos, logos, and rhetorical devices while ethos is not as prominent. Irony is a common factor, but the most ironic is the fact that in 1994, when Sarah was being crowned homecoming queen, her father was running for his life from the murderous rebels. An example of pathos is when the story of Joseph starts and the first paragraph states that “… or simple scout missions, their adult commanders did not waste precious drugs on the children, hallucinogens which rewed them into fearless and brutal machines.
Only later in the afternoon, when the rebels ordered the child soldiers to kill did they carve slits into the boy’s young temples, pierce holes into their tender veins and rub cocaine and “brown-brown” heroin into their raw wound. Scotch tape slapped across the incisions pressed the drugs deeper into their bloodstreams”… This applies to the aspect of children younger than the teens of today getting literally brainwashed.
This makes you think about any child getting there head split open for drugs. Nowadays, here in America, this is called child abuse. A logos example is as follows, “… a flat tire among the unpaved roads poxed with potholessome so vast a truck could fall in and tip over- was not unusual. But during the civil war a flat tire was a death sentence… ” This is also an example of logical reasoning of if you want to survive unharmed in the civil war, avoid flat tires. Flats equal death. An example of ethos, which is barely used, is when
Lynne, Sarah’s older sister was telling her about the one time they ran into Penny at a shoe department store when Sarah was five. This is ethos because the person who knew the story was telling it because she was there when it happened. A rhetorical device is hyperbole; when Sarah stated that the bathroom hut stench could make a person faint and fall onto the hole. This is exaggerated to make the reader imagine the level of smelliness. In reality people don’t faint from bathroom smells. This is an extraordinary book to read.
The only minor errors are that, unfortunately, the writing never takes this past mediocre. Too much focus on the obvious story; too much pulling back from potentially interesting questions and subjects (what was the grandmother’s story? ); not enough characterisation all round. The title and subtitle don’t help, honestly; they make big promises that the book doesn’t deliver. The emphasis on what it meant to be a mahaloi — not just now (when, in practice, it looks like it doesn’t mean all that much) but also historically when Sierra Leone was in better shape.
Overall, this book would be good for people who like autobiographies/memoirs. This book relates to the human experience of psychological wanting to belong in a family(who am I? ), racism in terms of the experiences that her father experienced in America. This relates to me because being an African who is from a royal family (chiefdom). It excites me to see someone else who also found her African side. She shows this through extreme heartbreaking pathos, obvious-lifesaving logos, and some practical ethos.