What travel meant when scientific explorers began producing knowledge about vast regions such as central Africa merits close attention, especially in view of the imminent danger of disembodied postcolonial theorizing. This chapter gives an account of the course this project has taken. It took years before the author realized to place his work in the context of colonial history. Knowledge of the colonial past was essential to understand, among other things, a problem that intrigued him: How did it come about that Swahili, a language which had its origins on the east coast of Africa, would emerge, in different variants, as both a tool of Belgian colonization and a “weapon of resistance”, as the common medium through which displaced labor recruits and other immigrants created spaces of freedom for the vital and complex popular culture first encountered in the sixties?
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