To stand up for herself and gain her freedom, Abina Mansah, a young West African woman enslaved in the 19th century, took advantage of the British cultural standards transported to the Gold Coast through the abolition movement, the benevolent principle of the ‘civilizing…
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fight slavery during the 19th century, not exactly to abolish it, but at least to include the quest for freedom in Africa in the goals of Britain’s civilizing mission.
In fact, the civilizing mission is to expose the problems created by assimilation of the Gold Coast to the British legal and political structure. This essay tries to answer two questions, namely, (1) how is the civilizing mission depicted in Abina’s story and how does it impact her trial, and (2) why do some West Africans in this period support the British civilizing mission and even British rule in the region?
The tale of Abina occurred in 1876 in the Gold Coast, which was ruled by Britain since 1974. Although the British officials had ended slavery in Britain, their colonies, like the Gold Coast, experienced difficulties in moving from slavery to emancipation. Such is the main topic of the book Abina and the Important Men. West Africa remained under the grip of slavery. Slaves labored in agricultural estates or plantation. Abina was a slave in Asante, one of the English colonies. One night, she made a decision to free herself from her master. However, she discovered that she had to hold a written approval of her freedom or else the police would imprison her. She came across James Davis, a single-minded local translator for the colonial courts. Davis described to Abina the issue, “Well, it is true that there is no legal slavery here in Cape Coast or throughout the Colony and Protectorate, but look, the government doesn’t have the money or ability to enforce the law everywhere.”1 Such was a definite problem with respect to the ‘civilizing mission’.
James Davis eventually agreed to inform the magistrate about Abina’s dilemma. Davis proclaims that Eddoo, Abina’s previous master, is an ‘important man’ and Britain refuses to act against important men. This, again, reveals the problem of the civilizing mission, implementing the eradication of slavery, such would result in the
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(Book: Abina and the Important Men Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 Words)
“Book: Abina and the Important Men Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1250 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1665911-book-abina-and-the-important-men.
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