Based upon decades of research on several continents and in many languages, this is the first study of precolonial Bakongo thought that includes Caribbean developments such as the Palo Mayombe initiation system founded in Cuba from the 1500s onward. The author argues “that multiple, varied communication tools, including written symbols, religious objects, oral traditions, and body language, have consistently been integrated by the Bakongo into structured systems of graphic writing” (p. 1). The complex has deep historical roots, “the earliest evidence” for which “is found in multiple archaeological sites around the border between Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an area that covers close to two hundred kilometers” (p. 50). Although these sites have not been dated, the author finds evidence for their antiquity by comparing the signs in many cave sites in the region of Mbanza Kongo, the early...

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