“Nelson’s book follows in the tradition of such famous muckrakers who have denounced the colonial exploitation of central Africans as Joseph Conrad and André Gide. But it differs from those impressionistic and anecdotal efforts by providing the reader access to the actual documents which outlined the methods to be utilized in extorting much more than a pound of flesh from a previously vibrant Mongo society. The feeling of outrage that progressively comes from reading the words of company agents, colonial officials, and African victims is carefully stimulated by Nelson’s method of presentation … A superb, detailed focus on the colonial experience of a tiny region of the vast African continent.”
International Journal of African Historical Studies
This exceptional study of the Mongo people of the upper Congo River basin focuses on the evolution of Mongo work patterns from the period of the late nineteenth century to 1940, the high-water mark of the colonial period. It brings new evidence from oral histories, anthropological research, and archival records to build on or to correct colonial ethnographic accounts. From this fresh vantage point, Nelson reassesses colonial labor policies and relates them to today’s rural poverty and underdevelopment.
Samuel H. Nelson is an associate professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
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