UNESCO General History of Africa, Volume 1: Methodology and African Prehistory
Volume I of this acclaimed series is now available in an abridged paperback edition. The result of years of work by scholars from all over the world, The UNESCO General History of Africa reflects how the different peoples of Africa view their civilizations and shows the historical relationships between the various parts of the continent. Historical connections with other continents demonstrate Africa's contribution to the development of human civilization. Each volume is lavishly illustrated and contains a comprehensive bibliography.
eclipses can be identified with particular reigns in dynastic traditions. But, in general, chronology requires the use of several sources, for a variety of reasons: first, the average length of reigns and generations varies; 24. 25. 26. 27. See E . J. Alagoa, 1973. See A . Hampaté Bâ and G . Dieterlen, 1961. See Y . Coppens, i960, pp. i29ff. A . Bailloud, 1966, pp. 3iff. 17 Methodology and African Prehistory secondly, the nature of the relationship between a sovereign and his successor is not
subsequently held a fellowship at All Souls' College, Oxford. Hanotaux (1853-1944) followed two careers, as a politician and statesman w h o in the 1890s played a leading role in French colonial and foreign affairs, and as a historian w h o was elected to the Académie Française. 33 Methodology and African Prehistory whole of this volume (the largest of the eight) is devoted to the tangled affairs of these European settlers since theirfirstarrival in 1652. T h e indigenous African peoples, the
attitude of the authors of the History, in which the resistance of the slaves shipped to America, the constant and massive participation of the descendants of Africans in the struggles for the initial independence of America and in national liberation movements, are rightly perceived for what they were: vigorous assertions of identity, which helped forge the universal concept of mankind. Although the phenomenon m a y vary in different places, it is n o w quite clear that ways of feeling,
decline befell the quality and even the quantity of such works, the Maghrib and in particular Morocco still produced competent scholars whose contributions to their countries' history are considerable. T h e changing situation is reflected also in the geographical area covered by written sources. Whereas before the sixteenth century the fringes of the Sudanese Sahel and the narrow strip of the East African coast formed the boundary of geographical, and thus of historical knowledge, the new epoch
nominalism most explicitly, but in all rituals the n a m e is the thing and 'to say' is 'to do'. T h e oral approach is an attitude to reality and not the absence of a skill. Traditions are baffling to the contemporary historian w h o , although so swamped by a mass of written evidence that he has to develop the techniques of rapid reading, can nevertheless rely on constant repetition of Oral tradition and its methodology the facts in various forms to help his understanding. Traditions call