Abolition and the Rise of the Aku: Creating Ethnicity through Colonial Policy on the Gambia River

Author(s): Liza Gijanto

Year: 2018

Summary

The Gambian capital of Banjul was founded as part of British abolition efforts in West Africa.  A planned urban center, its earliest residents included the Aku, or Liberated Africans resettled from Sierra Leone and captured slave vessels.  The Aku identity formed over several decades in The Gambia largely through self-identification as the ‘other’ African and British subjects in the 19th century.  In the early 20th century they were the Gambian elite and became the driving force behind the independence movement.  They have since struggled to maintain what they define as an ethnic identity marked by their language (Aku), religion (Christian), family names (English derived) and level of education (professional degrees).  This paper addresses the formation of this community during the 19th century in Banjul beginning as indentured labor and becoming a distinct middle class as part of a unique colonial experiment through the strategic consumption of British and local material culture.

Cite this Record

Abolition and the Rise of the Aku: Creating Ethnicity through Colonial Policy on the Gambia River. Liza Gijanto. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441804)

Keywords

Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 317