Abina and the Important Men
A Graphic History
Oxford University Press 2012
Imagine this: a young African girl, barefoot but wearing a dress and head wrap, clenches her fists and looks you in the eye. Behind her a semi-circle of men, some in suits and some in kente cloth, turn their backs to her. The girl is Abina, the men are “Important Men,” and together they grace the cover of of Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History (Oxford University Press, 2012), a collaborative effort of historian Trevor R. Getz and graphic artist Liz Clarke.
In 1876 Abina took her former master to court in the British-controlled Gold Coast for having enslaved her. She had already escaped to freedom: she seems to have brought charges simply because she wanted her experience of slavery to be recognized. It wasn’t. Abina lost her case. But in reconstructing Abina’s story in graphic form, Getz and Clarke bring it to present-day readers. And they also bring important questions to the students who are the intended audience of this book: What background information do we need to understand Abina’s story? Whose voices do we hear, and whose don’t we hear? What do historians do when they don’t know all the details of a story?
Trevor R. Getz is Professor of History at San Francisco State University, and Liz Clarke is a professional artist and graphic designer based in Cape Town, South Africa. Together, they bring a silenced voice back to life, and they do it in an enormously engaging way.