History from Below

The “Vocabulary of Elisabethville” by André Yav: Text, Translations and Interpretive Essay

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Johannes Fabian with assistance from Kalundi Mango (Administrator, National Museum of Zaire) and with linguistic notes by Walter Schicho (University of Vienna). An extraordinary linguistic and sociopolitical document, this is a history of colonization written by the colonized, about the colonized, and for the colonized. The original text, a history of what is now Lubumbashi in the Shaba region of Zaire, is reproduced in exact facsimile in Part 1. The period covered is from the beginning of Belgian colonization to 1965. The text was commissioned by an association of former domestic servants and written, or compiled, by one Andre Yav. The facsimile text is followed by linguistic notes (provided by W. Schicho) on the variety of Swahili used by the author. In Part 2 this amazing document is twice translated: first, into an oralized' version in current Shaba Swahili and, second, into English. Numerous historical and linguistic notes make the text accessible to the non-specialist. While Parts 1 and 2 are of particular interest to linguists, Part 3 covers a wider area of intellectual concerns. It is an essay analyzing the social conditions, literary means and political purposes and importance of the history. Of interest to linguists, historians, sociologists and political scientists.

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