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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Lambarene Okoume and the Transformation of Labor along the Middle Ogooue (Gabon)
Authors:Gray, Christopher
Ngolet, Francois
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic terms:Gabon
forest resources
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Labor and Employment
Economics and Trade
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/183396
Abstract:The Middle Ogooué (Gabon) functioned as a nodal area in precolonial long-distance trade networks. In the latter half of the 19th century, the growing demand of European factors for rubber and ivory led to intense commercial competition among Galwa, Fang, Enenga and Bakele clans. The organization of labour required to obtain forest products remained under the control of local clan leaders through the first decade of the 20th century. It was only with the false start of a timber industry prior to World War I and then its resumption in the 1920s that a profound transformation of labour was accomplished. Lambaréné, located on the Middle Ogooué near the confluence with the Ngounié, became the centre of a regional colonial economy that absorbed wage labour in modern capitalist fashion. The presence of relatively accessible 'okoumé' trees was the key factor in bringing about this transformation. It was the rise of a timber industry along the lagoons of the coast and in the lakes near Lambaréné that salvaged the Gabonese colonial economy. Timber brought a growing though mobile population to the Middle Ogooué. Due to the seasonal nature of employment and the impact of the Depression, 'vagabondage' became a major concern in the 1930s. Notes, ref., sum.