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Central African Republic: The Yakoma, including their language, physiognomy and geographic location; whether it is possible to identify members of this ethnic group by their family names and whether certain names are common among the Yakoma (August 2002)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 23 August 2002
Citation / Document Symbol CAF39458.FE
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Central African Republic: The Yakoma, including their language, physiognomy and geographic location; whether it is possible to identify members of this ethnic group by their family names and whether certain names are common among the Yakoma (August 2002) , 23 August 2002, CAF39458.FE , available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3f7d4d6515.html [accessed 29 August 2014]
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During a telephone interview of 21 August 2002, a representative of the Central African Human Rights League (Ligue centrafricaine des droits de l'homme, LCDH), based in Bangui and affiliated with the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), provided the following information:

The Yakoma are members of an ethnic group of the same name. They live along the Oubangui River in the south of the country.

The Yakoma, like most inhabitants of the Central African Republic, are of Bantu origin. Therefore, based only on their physiognomy, it is not possible to distinguish them without risk of error from members of other ethnic groups of the same origin.

However, the Yakoma can be identified by their dialect, which is also called Yakoma. Although very similar to Sango - the dialect of the Sango, another ethnic group living in the same area as the Yakoma - the accent is different among members of these two ethnic groups. Today, Sango is one of the national languages.

With regard to family names, the LCDH representative stated that as a result of centuries of intermarriages between members of the various ethnic groups in the country, it would be difficult if not impossible to identify the Yakoma, or members of other ethnic groups, by their family names.

However, names beginning with the prefix "Koya" are common among the Yakoma. Thus, members of this ethnic group often have names such as "Koyaga," "Koyagere," "Koyali," "Koyango," etc.

One source estimated in 1996 that there were 100,000 Yakoma living in the Central African Republic (Ethnologue July 2002). The same source stated that the Yakoma were living in Kembi and Ouango, two southern prefectures along the Oubangui River, as well as in the administrative centres of the Central African Republic (ibid.).

According to the Encyclopedia of the Third World, members of the Sango, Yakoma, Baniri and Buraka ethnic groups live along the rivers in the Central African Republic (1992, 337).

A BBC article stated that as part of the Ngbandi ethnic group, the Yakoma live along the Oubangui River in the south of the country (12 June 2002). In the same article, it is also indicated that even the national capital, Bangui, is ethnically divided (ibid.). The Yakoma live in the south of the city, while the Sara live in the north (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

BBC. 12 June 2001. "UN Steps Into CAR Ethnic Tension." [Accessed 20 Aug. 2002]

Encyclopedia of the Third World. 1992. 4th ed. Vol. 1. Edited by George Thomas Kurian. New York: Facts on File.

Ethnologue. July 2002. "Yakoma: A Language of Central African Republic." [Accessed 15 Aug. 2002]

Ligue centrafricaine de droits de l'homme (LCDH) [Bangui]. 21 August 2002. Telephone interview with representative.

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential [London] 1999-July 2002.

Africa Research Bulletin [London] 1999-2002.

L'Autre Afrique Jan.-July 2002.

IRB Databases.

LEXIS/NEXIS.

Resource Centre country file. Central African Republic.

West Africa [London] 1999-2002.

Internet sites including:

Africatime.

Allafrica.

Minorities at Risk Project.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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