André Raponda Walker

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André Raponda Walker
Raponda Walker.jpg
in 1898.[1]
Born 19 July 1871[2]
Died 11 December 1968
Libreville
Nationality Gabonese
Occupation Priest
Known for Recording the culture of Gabon
Religion Roman Catholic
Parents Princesse Agnorogoulè Ikoutou and Robert Bruce N. Walker

André Raponda Walker (1871–1968) was a Gabonese author, ethnographer, Catholic priest, and missionary. Walker wrote extensively about Gabonese language and culture.[3]

Biography[edit]

Raponda-Walker was born to a Mpongwe mother,[4] Princesse Agnorogoulè Ikoutou, niece of King Louis Dowé,[1] and Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker, a British merchant in Gabon, and member of the Anthropological Society. Robert Walker was a significant contributor of African artifacts to British Museums, in particular, his collection of African shields.[5]

The young boy spent a year in England around his fourth birthday but returned to Gabon in 1876 and started at the school of Sainte Marie in 1877.

He was ordained in 23 July 1899[4] and his first assignment was at Notre-Dame des Trois-Epis in Ngounié in southern Gabon.[1]

He was the first person from Gabon to be ordained as a Catholic priest. He served at several locations in Gabon where he learnt a number of local languages and created dictionaries and lexicographies. These works are still used today.[3]

From about 1930, Monsignor Walker was one of the few missionaries still studying and documenting Gabonese anthropology, as many foreign researchers had returned to their countries of origin.[3] Walker used interviews to gather the oral traditions of his country using his knowledge of about twelve Gabonese languages. He gathered histories of the Gabonese estuary, the N'Gounie River valley and coastal areas.[4]

Raponda-Walker retired in 1947 at Libreville. He had been stationed at a number of locations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, including Sindara, Libreville, Boutika (Guinée Equatoriale), Donguila, Lambaréné, Saint-Martin (near Mouila) et au Fernan-Vaz.[1]

Andre lived to see his country independent. Most of Raponda-Walker's work was published in the last few years of his life, after editing by Marcel Soret, a French ethnologist. The work contributed to a systematic project to record Gabonese culture led by Hubert Deschamps.[4]

Legacy[edit]

Walker is well regarded in his country. His image appeared on one of the nation's postage stamps in 1981. He also has a school named in his honour, Collège et Lycée Raponda Walker.[6]

Works[edit]

  • Dictionnaire mpongwè-français, suivi d'éléments de grammaire, Metz, 1934.
  • Essai de grammaire tsogo, Brazzaville, 1937.
  • Notes d'Histoire du Gabon, 1960.
  • Dictionnaire français-mpongwè, 1961.
  • Les Plantes utiles du Gabon (with Roger Sillans), Paris, Le Chevalier, 1961, 614 p. (Coll. Encyclopédie biologique, 56).
  • Rites et croyances des peuples du Gabon (with Roger Sillans), 1962.
  • Contes gabonais, 1967.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Biography of Raponds Walker, accessed 11 August 2008
  2. ^ Biography of Raponda Walker, GabonForver, accessed 11 August 2008
  3. ^ a b c LFM: Social Sciences and Missions, Page 12, December 2006, accessed 11 August 2008
  4. ^ a b c d Historical Dictionary of Gabon, Gardiner and Yates, 2006, accessed 11 August 2008
  5. ^ 19th century Field Collecting, Oxford University, accessed 1 August 2008
  6. ^ College Lycee Raponda-Walker, accessed 11 August 2008

Bibliography[edit]

  • Jeremy Rich, "Maurice Briault, André Raponda Walker and the Value of Missionary Anthropology in Colonial Gabon", Social Sciences and Missions (Leiden Brill), N°19/December 2006, pp. 65–89
  • Jeremy Rich, “André Raponda Walker,” Dictionary of African Biography. Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. & Emmanuel Akyeampong. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming