> In alt.usage.english, Jitze Couperus wrote:
> >I understand out Federal Communications Commission is contemplating
> >fining a number of TV stations for playing such nursery rhymes on
> >family-oriented programs. National Geographic is also under fire for
> >publishing a picture of the top half of nekkid female member of the
> >Onga-Bonga tribe.
> Bong-Bongo tribe, shirley?
> That's the only reference I have been able to find to the existence of a
> real Bongo[o]-Bongo Land. The Bongos undoubtedly exist (in Sudan). But
> Bong[o]-Bongos? I smell mischief.
It does seem odd, considering that in contemporary cultural anthropology
"Bongo-Bongo" invariably represents a purely fictitious (presumably
African) tribe. Often it's given as a sort of ironic metacommentary,
critiquing anthropologists who come up with obscure counterexamples to
posited cultural universals. The earliest usage I find on the JSTOR
database of scholarly journals is from 1962:
Review of _Femmes d'Afrique Noire_ by Denise Paulme
Robert F. Murphy
American Anthropologist 64:5 (Oct. 1962), pp. 1075-1077.
[Women's] status contains within in its own compensatory
features, and if the male anthropologist cannot see this
in his hearth, how can he detect it among the Bongo-Bongo?
A better known example is from Mary Douglas (1970):
_Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology_
By Mary Douglas. Barrie & Rockliff, 1970.
It serves to counter the effects of Bongo-Bongoism, the
trap of all anthropological discussion. Hitherto when a
generalization is tentatively advanced, it is rejected out
of court by any fieldworkers who can say: 'This is all
very well, but it doesn't apply to the Bongo-Bongo.'
(text available on Amazon: <http://tinyurl.com/2qt6l>)
Last time "Bongo-Bongo (Land)" came up here, it was in the context of
Tory minister Alan Clark's notorious usage . I suggested in that
thread a possible connection to the song "Civilization (Bongo, Bongo,
Bongo)", recorded by the Andrews Sisters with Danny Kaye in 1947
("Bongo, bongo, bongo, I don't wanna leave the Congo..."). This in turn
was perhaps inspired by a song called "Bongo on the Congo", lyrics by
P.G. Wodehouse and music by Jerome Kern, which appeared in the 1924
musical "Sitting Pretty" .
I think Wodehouse might have been responsible for inventing the mythical
Bongo-Bongo, but not in the musical number (though I haven't found the
lyrics for it yet). In two short stories that first appeared in 1932
("The Story of Webster" and "Cats Will be Cats" aka "The Bishop's
Folly"), Wodehouse introduces a character named Theodore who accepts
"the vacant Bishopric of Bongo-Bongo, in West Africa." I could imagine
British social anthropologists reading Wodehouse and then applying
"Bongo-Bongo" (ironically, of course) to their own discipline.
http://tinyurl.com/2frbt ("The Story of Webster" on Amazon)