Colonial Letters and the Contact of Knowledges

Emmanuel Etamo Kengo


University of Buea, Cameroon

Research Focus

Agricultural history, Slavery, Colonial economic policies, Land conflicts

Selected Publications

Summary of research topic in the CL&CK Project 

(Mis)representation of Southern Cameroonians in colonial communications

Colonialism relied on knowledge of the colonized for dominance, effective administration and exploitation. And so, effective colonial administration required a good knowledge of the colonized.   The British logically started their colonial administration of Southern Cameroons, with studies that culminated in Intelligence and Assessment Reports on the various groups of people, correspondences on various subjects etc. aimed at understanding the colonized. Taking a close examination of some of these colonial reports and the ensuing correspondences lodged at the Cameroon National Archives in Buea, this paper examines the representation of the colonized in these communications and also looks at attempts by some of the colonized groups to contest colonial misrepresentation in the postcolonial state. It intends to show how colonial representation or misrepresentation influenced identity construction and contestation in the colonial and post-colonial state. The paper argues that in spite of the numerous anthropological studies carried out (Assessment and Intelligence Reports), the colonizer did not quite understand the colonized which led to some errors of judgment.