Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Call of Zulina-Kay Marshall Strom

The Call of Zulina
Kay Marshall Strom
Abington, Aug 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9781426700699

In 1787 in the Gold Coast of West Africa, Grace is the adult daughter of English sea captain Joseph Winslow and African Princess Lingongo. Grace’s maternal grandfather forced her mom into a marriage of convenience in order to keep his people safe from the slave trafficking. Seeing no wrong with having slaves or forcing his daughter into marital servitude, Joseph informs Grace and Lingongo he has arranged her marriage to haughty pretentious, English visitor Mr. Hathaway; who firmly believes his people and nation are doing a favor with the Africans.

Not only does she reject the snobbish superiority of her intended, Grace recently learns the family business is slave trading that has given her a very high standard of living to include her beloved enslaved Mama Muco to her horror and shame. Grace also realizes in some ways she and her mom are domestic slaves with no choices. She decides to take a choice as she flees into the night only to become embroiled by the passionate plea for freedom of Cabeto as he leads a slave revolt against their masters and traders at Zulina.

Timely with Congress working the long overdue apology, this is a strong look at the full slave trade business from deals of all sorts and the treatment of the enslaved. The cast is solid on both sides of the issue; especially surprisingly the Europeans. It is not just the traffickers who see it as the divine right of the superior white man’s burden to “care” for these human animals. The romance between aptly named Grace (as noted in the introduction John Newton went from slave transporter to abolitionist to Amazing Grace hymn writer) and Cabeto seems unneeded and forced. Still fans will appreciate this powerful realistic look at the destructiveness of slavery as Kay Marshall Strom states Zulina is Goree Island in Senegal, enhancing the case we must never forget less we repeat the horrific indignities.

Harriet Klausner

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