By J. Ki-Zerbo

Assesses the significance hooked up by way of African societies to their earlier and the expansion and improvement of African historiography. this is often by way of bills of the first literary assets, the oral and dwelling traditions and African archaeology and its thoughts. There are additional chapters on linguistics, migrations and old geography ahead of the second one a part of the ebook which bargains in particular with earliest guy and the prehistory of Africa in response to geographical quarter. particular chapters also are dedicated to prehistoric paintings, agricultural thoughts and the improvement of metallurgy. The sequence is co-published in Africa with seven publishers, within the usa and Canada via the collage of California Press, and in organization with the UNESCO Press.

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See B . G . Martin, 1969, pp. 15-27. 6 General introduction already served African history well, especially w h e n , as is the case with several thousand millennia of Africa's past, there is no oral or written chronicle available. T h e n objects alone, buried with those for w h o m they bear witness, keep vigil beneath the heavy shroud of the earth over a past without a face and without a voice. S o m e of these objects are particularly significant as points of reference in the measuring of civilization.

But for s o m e decades n o w , thousands of research workers, some of them of great and even exceptional merit, have been exhuming whole areas of ancient Africa. Every year dozens of n e w publications appear, expressing a more and more positive attitude. A n d discoveries about Africa, sometimes spectacular ones, call in question the meaning of certain phases in the history of mankind as a whole. 2 General introduction But this very proliferation carries with it its o w n dangers: the risk of contradiction and confusion through lack of co-ordination; squabbles between schools of opinion which tend to ascribe more importance to the research worker than to the object of his research, and so on.

Thompson, 1969, pp. 72-3. 16 General introduction bare genealogical tree decked with a few stereotypical deeds, so that the complexity and the interpénétration of structures sometimes modelled on ancient hegemonies (for example, Mali) emerge in all their vivid concreteness. 24 A n d was it not a datum of cultural anthropology - the initiatory text of the Fula shepherds 25 - which enabled prehistorians to unravel the enigmas of the Tassili frescoes, such as the legless animals in the picture called the O x and the Hydra, the magic 'LP of O u a n Derbaouen, and so on?

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