By Jeremy Rich Ph.D. MA BA
Read or Download A Workman Is Worthy of His Meat: Food and Colonialism in the Gabon Estuary PDF
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Extra resources for A Workman Is Worthy of His Meat: Food and Colonialism in the Gabon Estuary
Between 1840 and 1870 rumors ran rampant regarding malicious slaves scheming to kill masters. Free people blamed slaves for calamities. In 1847 inhabitants of a Mpongwe village panicked after elephants trampled their crops. 72 William Walker recorded a slave servant’s execution in the same year. 73 In Mpongwe culture eating was a practice that made one susceptible to harm. 74 Prohibitions were also imposed for health reasons. 80 With large numbers of slaves growing and cooking much of their food, on occasion free households displayed fear of their dependents.
Bouet-Willaumez and other French military men distrusted Agakaza leaders who had raided and robbed several French vessels. Some clan leaders preferred English and American traders. Agakaza aga (clan chiefs) such as Re-Dowé signed treaties in return for European military outﬁts and a wide variety of goods in 1842 and 1843. Such treaties from the Mpongwe point of view appear to have been the continuation of older policies of commercial alliances. 53 The difference between local and French interpretations of these agreements became rapidly obvious.
Such sources offer insights into the farming, ﬁshing, and trading practices when Europeans and Americans arrived in the region, how domestic slavery and gendered economic options affected food, and the conﬂicting ways in which European and Americans understood Mpongwe tastes and eating habits. Choosing Local Foods By the 1840s two crops furnished the starchy mainstays of Mpongwe cooking: manioc and plantains. Atlantic commerce brought manioc to the region. 4 Able to grow in relatively poor soils and survive periods of variable rainfall, manioc had long been a major staple in much of Brazil.