Book Review: Naming Colonialism: History and Collective Memory in the Congo, 1870-1960

Review: Names as Sources of Colonial History.

In this book, Osumaka Likaka proposes and demonstrates a method for exploring the ideas and actions of Congolese villagers during the colonial era. Historians have explored texts left by colonizers, but villagers did not leave texts. They did, however, leave mnemonics of their experiences in the names they gave to individual colonists. When analyzed carefully, such names as Mundele Nioka (White Man Who Is a Snake), Pole-Pole (Go Slow), and Sikoti (Whip) become commentaries on individual colonizers and on the colonial experience. Likaka has collected hundreds of Central African names for Europeans and has investigated their meanings through dictionaries, interviews, and texts. His book explores the meanings of names in three periods: the precolonial, early colonial, and high colonial eras (...)

[Read Curtis Keim's full review]
Published on H-Africa.


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