‘I’ve been visiting Hull since the early 1970s when I knew students at the university. I’d come up here for wild week-ends and soon began to understand why they were totally in love with the city. For some years I've been looking at the history of Hull, in relation to enslaved Africans and those who have been credited with pushing for abolition. This is really a handbook and a guidebook for how to escape, how to survive and how to arrive in one piece. Most of the texts are by civil rights activists. Each page is modelled on the design for an East African Kanga in which two pieces of cloth form a skirt and a top; the text tells the world how you are feeling.
My grandmother MaShulan loved to go to weddings with her friends. She lived in Zanzibar but was born in the Comoros. Like all stylish women she loved new clothes, so every time she received an invitation a new outfit was necessary; a new Kanga of course, with the cleverest motto available. MaShulan and her eight or nine friends would all wear the same design so that they would make the best impression, and that way everyone would know that they had come to the event together. MaShulan always asked her son, my father, to pay for all ten of the Kangas; he always agreed.
Hopefully the book will be enjoyed by people who want to help their friends find ways to survive and at the same time could reveal, in tandem with archive material and personal narratives about abolition, that no one gets anything significant done by themselves.’
Lubaina Himid, born 1954 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, is a contemporary African artist and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. Her art focuses on themes of cultural history and reclaiming identities. She was one of the first artists involved in the Black Art movement in the 1980s and continues to create activist art which is shown in galleries in Britain, as well as worldwide.
Published and produced by Book Works in a special limited edition of 30 copies, signed and numbered by the artist. Images from her original Kanga paintings with short texts by the artist. Designed by Book Works Studio, 360mm x 515mm
Commissioned as part of Beyond Words by the Freedom Festival Arts Trust, Hull Culture and Leisure Library Services and Book Works, in association with Hull History Centre, Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull, funded by James Reckitt Library Trust and Arts Council England.