Colonial Letters and the Contact of Knowledges

Stephen Ambe Mforteh

English Linguistics

University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon

Research Interests

Stylistics, sociolinguistics and pragmatics

Selected Publications

Summary of research topic in the CL&CK project

Epistolary traces of the dissipation of indigenous identity markers of the colonized people

The British colonial letters (1900-1959) show that the colonized people had indigenous leadership models, religions, a judiciary system etc. These elements reveal an identity that was ignored by the colonialists. Evidence gleaned from excerpts of these letters shows an acceleration in the loss of their indigenous identity. Considered a Trust territory, Cameroon’s history nor future were not central to the colonialists as they forged socio-economic and/or political collaboration. The dissipation began with the language of the colonizer being imposed; a renaming of the territories (Cameroon, Victoria), and a gradual eradiation of new administrative zones and administrators (Resident, Attorney General) and cultural norms that stymied hitherto existing models. The theory of dissipation, is adapted to show how the identity markers were eroded by the colonizer and colonized. In addition, Critical Discourse Analysis is used to show how the power tussle between the leaders, and the ethnic/regional groups, in their quest to align with the new ideologies of the colonizer, hastened the dissipation via blackmail, obsequiousness among others. Words used by both colonizer and colonized will be used to explore the strategies used by the colonizer to further dissipate rather than encourage the indigenous identity markers, and those that reveal the colonized people’s yearning to discard rather than preserve their own identity.