42 pages 1 hour read

Trevor R. Getz, Illustr. Liz Clarke

Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History

Nonfiction | Graphic Novel/Book | YA | Published in 2011

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Part 5, Chapters 20-28

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 5: “Engaging Abina”

Part 5, Chapter 20 Summary: “Gendering Abina”

Part 5 examines academic essays that treat historical documents as “living texts” and arose in response to the original publication of Abina and the Important Men (161). The authors want readers to critically engage with the ideas in this section, including the role of gender in Abina’s story, the nature and meaning of slavery, and the cultural dynamics that come with shifting identities and colonialism.

The subsection “Gender and Slavery in the Gold Coast” discusses the labor shortage in the Gold Coast and how this need drove an increase of enslaved women because work like processing palm oil was seen as a woman’s job. Women were also valued as potential wives who could produce children. Despite this trend, there were still plenty of areas around the Gold Coast that practiced male slavery, including men enslaved by women, but there aren’t many records of the treatment of enslaved women under women enslavers.

The next subsection, “Colonial Paternalism,” describes the way British patriarchy and their colonization of the Gold Coast led to the rise of patriarchal systems in the region. This patriarchy extended beyond men being placed in positions of power to the domestic domains, where the British concept of the “father” enabled a disciplinary dynamic that shielded men who enslaved children.