In a meager apartment on the outskirts of New York City lives a quiet, old man who was once President of an African country.
Former law professor and Supreme Court justice David Kpormakpor served as Interim President of Liberia between 1994-95, during its disastrous civil war.
He now lives alone, on welfare, among thousands of Liberian refugees, many of whom question why he did not simply take the money and run when he had the chance.
'The Professor' takes us into Kpormakpor's everyday life in New York City's “Little Liberia”. We accompany him to a Liberian church, the local pharmacy, and to a community center where he drafts a letter to Liberia’s newly elected President. Yet the film is structured around a single event set within the confines of Kpormakpor’s small apartment.
In an unforgettable scene that explores his elusive personality, Kpormakpor assists his home health aide, Fanta Fofana, as she studies for her upcoming citizenship exam. The endearing Fanta is a widowed refugee from Sierra Leone who is looking to bring her three children to America.
Not only does this event offer an intimate and light-hearted window into the lives of African asylum seekers in America, it also acts as a central metaphor for the complex dilemma inherent in Kpormakpor's situation.
When a mysterious knock at the door interrupts the scene, the intrusion sparks a humorous debate that articulates the central philosophical problem posed by the film. At this moment, we realize the deep ramifications that extend beyond Kpormakpor’s dilemma and affect us all.