HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, in English, on the career of Kamba Simango, Mozambican anthropologist and student of Boas.
Macagno, Lorenzo, 2022. “From Mozambique to New York: The Cosmopolitan Pathways of Kamba Simango, African Disciple of Franz Boas,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Born in 1890, in the Machanga District on the coast of present-day Mozambique, Kamba Simango was an ethnographer, missionary, musician, performer and activist. In 1914, under the auspices of the missionaries of the American Board of Missions, he was sent to the United States to study at the Hampton Institute, a college where African-Americans and young people from Africa learned sciences, literature, and manual skills. In 1919, after completing his studies at the Hampton Institute, Kamba Simango was sent to the Teachers College at Columbia University, where he would remain until 1923. Immediately after his arrival in Columbia, Kamba Simango was presented to Franz Boas. The two immediately struck up a rapport. The father of North American anthropology wanted Simango to become not only a mere “informant” but a native ethnographer, furnished with anthropological tools. They became collaborators and friends. Boas hoped that upon returning to Mozambique, Simango would write about his people (the Vandau), independently of his commitments to the missionaries of the American Board.
Based on the exchange of letters that the pair kept up for many years, this extraordinary article unveils the itineraries of the ethnographic dialogue between the famous anthropologist and his forgotten disciple. Simango’s years in New York coincided with the start of the so-called Harlem Renaissance, a time when the incipient voices of Pan-Africanism co-existed with a whole host of Black writers, poets, painters, sculptors and musicians. During this period, he would also become friends with Pan-Africanist W. E. B. Du Bois. As a Vandau intellectual, he collaborated also with many anthropologists and Africanists, such as Melville Herskovits, Henri-Philippe Junod and Dora Earthy. Kamba Simango died in Ghana, in 1966.