French ethnologist Georges Balandier focuses a professional eye on Africa, with a view to the definition of the traditional heritage, evaluation of foreign influences and their effects, location of changes in progress. He is self-aware in his study, exploring the complexity of relationship established between the ethnologist and his research, and the peculiar position he occupies in his own society. In situ, he studies young Africa among the Lebou fishermen south of Dakar (youth often is deprived of the points of reference necessary to equilibrium); traditions (the cult of lefohar or possession, the ceremony of excision, gold mining in the Sudan); lost arts and, among the Kono, arts in their present context (used to idealize the past and to help resist foreign influences); impasses--where civilizations are juxtaposed without interpenetrating (the Congo, where the the Batekes still ""possess"" the Bakongo; Gabon, where isolation and instability are techniques of protection); the cities, no longer an aberration of African life; opposing movements (new cults to supplant the old and counter the white man's religion). He reads faces and trends to forecast Africa's future, and concludes with a bow to the present--whether or not it is a Renaissance manque, it represents new beginnings and deserves respect. Off the beaten track in subject, style and readership.