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An Introduction to the Writings of J. G. Mullen, An African Clerk, in the Gold Coast Leader, 1916–19

  • Stephanie Newell
Abstract

J. G. Mullen was a Gold Coast clerk who published his memoirs, in instalments, in the Gold Coast Leader from 1916 to 1919. In this unusual narrative, he describes his adventures in Cameroon before and during the First World War. His account combines real-life geographical and social details with flamboyant tropes probably derived from imperial popular literature. Mullen's biography and even identity have so far been otherwise untraceable. His text offers glimpses, always enigmatic, of the experience and outlook of a member of the new clerkly class of colonial West Africa. This contribution presents an edited extract from Mullen's text together with a contextualizing and interpretative essay. The full Mullen text is available in the online version of this issue of Africa.

J. G. Mullen, employé de bureau de la Gold Coast, a publié ses mémoires, en feuilletons, dans le Gold Coast Leader entre 1916 et 1919. Dans ce récit inhabituel, il décrit ses aventures au Cameroun avant et après la première guerre mondiale. Il y rapporte des détails géographiques et sociaux du réel assortis d'envolées lyriques probablement inspirées de la littérature populaire impériale. La biographie, mais aussi l'identité même de Mullen, restent jusqu'à présent introuvables. Ses écrits nous laissent entrevoir, de façon toujours énigmatique, l'expérience et la perspective d'un membre de la nouvelle classe d'employés de bureau de l'Afrique de l'Ouest coloniale. Cet article présente un extrait adapté du texte de Mullen, accompagné d'un essai de contextualisation et d'interprétation. Le texte complet de Mullen est disponible dans la version électronique en ligne de ce numéro d'Africa.

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References
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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
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