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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter 2017

Arabic and Swahili Documents from the Pre-Colonial Congo and the EIC (Congo Free State, 1885–1908): Who were the Scribes?

From the book The Arts and Crafts of Literacy

  • Xavier Luffin


A series of Arabic and Swahili documents dating back to the last decades of the nineteenth century and produced in what is today the democratic Republic of Congo are stored in several museums and archives in Belgium. They mainly consist of letters, lists, contracts and agreements, but also religious books and amulets. These documents raise many questions about the identity and the function of their authors: most of them were working as secretaries and translators, but in some cases they were also military chiefs or religious men. They also came from different geographical backgrounds : Arab and Swahili traders, local people, but also Sudanese, Chadians, Comorians, etc.

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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