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Misunderstandings Arising from the Use of the Term ‘Creole’ in the Literature on Sierra Leone1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2012

Extract

Throughout the growing body of literature on Sierra Leone a considerable degree of error has persisted over the use of the term ‘creole’ and the resultant confusion has led to repeated failure to describe accurately the society of the colony. This is not merely an academic problem. The very existence of such literature feeds back into the ‘collective representations’ of the society and has provided a false historical basis for the descriptions of the contemporary culture of the group who are referred to as creoles.

Résumé

L'USAGE ÉQUIVOQUE DU TERME ‘CRÉOLE’ DANS LES ÉCRITS PUBLIÉS SUR LE SIERRA LEONE

Les diverses études relatives au Sierre Leone ont laissé entendre que les descendants des Africains Libérés de cette colonie, étaient, depuis le milieu du 19ème siècle unifiés et convertis au Christianisme, et cela en dépit d' un grand nombre de faits qui portent témoignage des divergences entre eux que l'on note sur le plan de la langue, de la culture et de la religion et qui se prolongent bien au delà du debut du 20ème siècle. Les écrits qui portent sur le Sierre Leone ont fait appel à des études effectuées au cours des années 1950, époque à laquelle la société dite ‘créole’ s'efforçait de maintenir le pouvoir politique qui était le sien. Cet effort avait pour thème majeur l'affirmation d'une base historique principe sur lequel reposait la supériorité culturelle. Il semblerait que les chercheurs de cette époque furent inconsciemment influencés par les idées dominantes de l'élite Créole. Quelqu'en soit la cause, leur analyse avait fait abstraction de certaines sources importantes d'information si bien que les interprétations de l'histoire du Sierre Leone au 19ème siècle se sont limitées à un cadre très étroit. La même erreur a eu tendance à se répéter dans des études plus récentes parce qu'on n'avait pas remis en question les conclusions des travaux précédents ou parce que l'on n'avait pas vérifié l'interprétation qui avait été faite originellement des sources principales. Un nouvel examen des données historiques révèle l'existence d'une société complexe, extrêmement diversifiée, au sein de laquelle l'évolution des institutions politiques et socio-économiques du Sierre Leone était soumise à l'interaction et à l'influence des chefs de nombreuses communautés ethniques et religieuses. La nécessité d'une recherche interdisciplinaire est évidente si l'on veut aboutir à une vue plus précise de la société du Sierra Leone au cours des 19ème et 20ème siècle.

Type
Research Article
Information
Africa , Volume 47 , Issue 3 , July 1977 , pp. 305 - 320
Copyright
Copyright © International African Institute 1977

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References

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