THE AFRICAN PAST by Basil Davidson


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This is a chronicle of Africa south of the Sahara from its primitive past to its puzzling present, a sampler of richly relevant and only recently available documents of ""chiefs and kings, travelers and merchant-adventurers, poets and pirates and priests, soldiers and men of learning"". Remarkable as an anthology, invaluable as a guide, the book, both comprehensive and curative, should go far towards canceling out the ""colonial stereotypes"" so many in the West cling to vis-a-vis the African and his history. The records of well-known imperialist scrambles rightly take second place to little known earlier events: ancient Egyptian, Chanaian and Ethiopian influences; Karanga and Muslim conquests; migrations from the western and eastern lands into the unknown south, an onwards movement belying the myth of immemorial stagnation prior to European expansion. Culture, commerce, conflicts and corruption too were all there; the slave trade merely set it spinning in its ugliest whirl. The selections are vigorous and varied, picaresque even; the parts concerning the white masters are, sorrowfully, scandalous, and beyond that challenging, as the author's prefaces make plain. A reference of the highest, handiest kind.

Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.