Igbo names and spellings for various settlements
Abakaliki is Abankaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzö; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owere; Oyigbo is Obigbo... any more will be added.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Les Békés

A woman from Guadeloupe (apparently en route to Montreal, Canada). Photographed by Augustus Frederick Sherman.

The word for white men in the French-speaking Caribbean island of Martinique and to a certain extent Guadeloupe is Béké presumed to be from bèkée in Igbo meaning the same. These islands were the disembarkation points for many Igbo people during the forced Atlantic migrations from the 16th to 19th century. Igbo is the main component of English Caribbean creoles and, as may be apparent, has influenced French Caribbean creoles.

Some of the Ubani (Bonny) Igbo recorded by slave trader Hugh Crow.

The popular folk etymology of the word bèkée in Igbo says that it was derived from the Scottish explorer William Baikie who had contact with Igbo people, however, what seems to be a word used in the same way as bèkée has been found in the memoirs of Captain Hugh Crow, a slave trader out of Liverpool who had close contacts with the Igbo speaking middlemen of Bonny Island in Rivers State today. His voyages largely took place in the 18th century and he died in 1829, Baikie was born in 1825.

No comments: