Colonial Landscape in the 19th century Angola. Useful Plants in László Magyar´s and Mbundu Village Chiefs´ Records

Éva Sebestyén


This article focuses on the economic and medicinal efficiency of Angolan plants in historical sources and on its relevance in the current use. The main historical sources of this article are two sets of writings, namely Mbundu village chiefs landcharters and the records of a 19th century
Hungarian explorer-traveller, László Magyar, of Ovimbundu flora in the Central Plateau of Angola. The northern Angolan village chiefs ´declarations about their historical land rights were made between 18th-20th centuries and refer landmark trees used between villages well-known by botanists, and anthropologists because of their everyday economic and medicinal use.
The other spot of research locates in Southern Angola where the observations of the László Magyar were also confirmed by later botanists
since the 19th century (Welwitsch; Ficalho) as regards the outstanding economic and healing use of some plants. Both osources are based on
common historical knowledge about the use of the plants. The traditional healers´, the “traditional herbaria” and their medical use became an important issue to explore. This article raises the issue of the preservation of the historical healing system and its current application in public healthcare.

Keywords: Landscape, traditional medicine, public health, Angola.

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