By Jeremy Rich Ph.D. MA BA
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Additional resources for A Workman Is Worthy of His Meat: Food and Colonialism in the Gabon Estuary
Southern Gabonese workers originally toiling in the timber camps took part in Libreville’s expansion. The Great Depression led timber workers without employment to move to Libreville, much to the annoyance of administrators seeking to expel them back to rural areas. 113 A member of an Nzebi clan from southern Gabon, he walked in 1959 to Kango and then Libreville after hearing “they killed people” at the timber camps. Others made a living from trade. 114 Mpongwe women claimed property rights and rented out houses to Africans and Europeans alike.
Some snubbed Fang people. 93 Mpongwe people jealously guarded their own unique identity, yet also remained open to making alliances with Africans and Europeans. The cruel days of war and famine from 1914 to 1930 would test their ability to negotiate with the colonial state and private companies. 96 The old trading economy never recovered. Fighting between German and French colonial armies in Gabon and southern Cameroon lasted until 1916, sending Fang clans scurrying away from French army recruiters seeking new soldiers and porters.
Another dispersed group of hunting and foraging people, the Akele, made a living killing game and capturing sardines and other ﬁsh in the Estuary. All groups also hunted game in the region, but even so, meat was not consumed as commonly as ﬁsh. French ofﬁcials noted with displeasure how scarce bush meat was in Libreville. Reasons for its absence are unclear. Perhaps the decision of Mpongwe families to concern themselves with trade, ﬁshing, and farming made hunting more of a domain for forest specialists like the Séké.
A Workman Is Worthy of His Meat: Food and Colonialism in the Gabon Estuary by Jeremy Rich Ph.D. MA BA