Gerda Henkel Research Grant for Meike de Goede
Meike de Goede has received a research grant of €14,600 from the Gerda Henkel Foundation for her research on the post-colonial silencing of anti-colonial resistance in Congo-Brazzaville.
On the eve of full Independence in Congo-Brazzaville (1960), the members of an anti-colonial resistance movement that existed since 1930, were deported to the peripheries of the country. Although they received a general amnesty in 1963, many of them did not return home. What has happened to them remains unknown. Nevertheless, pockets of these ‘Matsouanists’ still exist in Brazzaville, the Pool region and places to where were deported in 1959, albeit as marginal groups of social outcasts. After the movement was crushed in 1959, the history of the deportation, the violent repression of the Matsouanists, and the history of Congo’s single most important anti-colonial resistance movement has been systematically silenced by subsequent regimes. It is not talked about, not officially remembered, and considered a political taboo. Nowadays, the history of the deportation of the Matsouanists is almost forgotten, even by later generations of Matsouanists. They are ridiculed and excluded. The survivors and their families have long learned to practice self-censorship and hide from public debate. I only learned about the events of the deportation in 1959 when I stumbled on a small newspaper clipping, almost by accident.
Through collecting oral histories of survivors, their descendants and other witnesses, the research aims to uncover the history of the Matsouanists since their deportation. The research outcomes will contribute to a much needed reinterpretation of the history of decolonisation of French Africa that emphasises the experiences of participants in these historic events. It will offer new understanding and insights in the process of decolonization in AEF and its impact on social movements and ordinary people.
The research project will start in August 2016.