Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2022
Chapter 3 focuses on the strengthening of the bureaucracy and written culture that, by the early nineteenth century, created an ersatz historical proof and solidified territorial and political claims. After two centuries of conquest, by the turn of the nineteenth century, new forms of official records, such as land registries, deeds, and inventories, and the expansion of surveys and reports led to an association between individual ownership, written registration, and property recognition. As in other colonial experiences, paper records represented authenticity and legitimation in the eyes of colonizers and also brought changes in the perceptions of governance. Ndombe, Kilengues, Kakondas, and Bienos embraced written evidence and paper power as providing proof of ownership. The existence of the paper created a new reality, that is, the idea that occupation and possession could be proven, that an individual was a landowner, a farmer, and a respectable resident of the colonial town. The establishment of written records and venues for petition such as courts allowed colonial subjects to make use of the colonial law and bureaucracy to strategically survive the new legal order and claim rights.