Methods of writing african history

Others insisted that even if there were events of a historical nature, such a history was unknown and unknowable, since African societies, for the most part, were nonliterate and as such left no records that historians could study. The era of decolonization and the immediate post-independence years witnessed a growing rank of Africanists vigorously reject this Eurocentric and anti-African historical epistemology that privileged civilization and written sources as the only rational bases for historical scholarship and that denied the possibility of civilization and history to small-scale and nonliterate societies dominant in Africa.

Methods of writing african history

The Abramic religions are essentially historical and encourage the study of history because they believe God has revealed Himself in time.

By contrast history is essentially disregarded by Yogic religions. Fundamentally history involves a process of interpreting the past based on evidence available in the present. This entails using accounts inherited from earlier times.

Although each generation re-interprets history in light of contemporary questions, history claims a scientific status through its careful use of sources and the weighing of evidence.

The most common mistake made by history students and, occasionally, well established historians is to project views and opinions common in one era back onto an earlier era. This cannot legitimately be done without strong evidence that those views and opinions were held methods of writing african history the earlier time.

In particular people are prone to project contemporary assumptions onto the past. Another very common error is to assume that a short passage of time makes little or no difference to the intellectual climate of the time.

In fact in political, social and other spheres of life ten years can make a very big difference particularly when dealing with modern history. The historian cannot assume that something, which was commonly believed by people in England inwas shared with people who lived in The modern history of Germany shows how difficult it is to generalize about the past.

For example the popular A History of Germany. The book ends by saying that Germans "know the value of peace, and pray that it may long continue" [2]. Since the Second World War it has been very difficult to find an English book which expresses such sentiments. Therefore, it is important to recognize the different sources used by historians and the value which can be placed upon them.

But, before discussing particular types of source material it must be 0very clearly recognized that all sources are biased. Therefore, the historian must recognize the outlook of the source and take it into account when using it as evidence. The major types of sources recognized by historians can be classified as follows: These are the earliest available accounts of an event which are used by later writers to interpret that event.

They are the raw material used by other writers to provide them with information and data. In using primary sources it is important to recognize the value judgements made by the people who wrote them and the intent of the author in writing the original document.

Types of primary sources: These are works that discusses a subject either from a great distance or after the event on the basis of second-hand or even more remote information. Secondary sources provide interpretations and make judgements about primary sources.

When using secondary sources it is important to realize that the account they give, even when it involves lengthy quotations from primary sources, may not be accurate. Secondary sources can be used to understand primary sources but must not be confused with them. Several cautions need to be observed when working with secondary sources.

The most important are: Secondary sources as primary sources: Sometimes a secondary source may be used as a primary source for information about the period when the secondary source was written.

Thus, Mill's History of India [3] is a secondary source for Indian history but a primary source for anyone wanting to understand James Mill's thinking about India.

methods of writing african history

James Mill, History of India, London,] 2. Are anthologies primary or secondary sources? Anthologies such as Peter Gay's The Enlightenment: A Comprehensive Anthology [4]contains short extracts from a large number of published primary sources.

As such it is very useful to students but it must be used with great care and not confused with true primary sources. The problem is that the reader must trust that the editor's selection of material, in this case Gay's, is representative of the subject, i.

The reader must also accept that wherever translations are used from French or German sources the translations are accurate. Similarly, books like Coward, Dargyay and Neufeldt's Readings in Eastern Religions [5], introduce students to the feel of primary sources but are not a true primary source.

Here again the question has to be asked whether the editors made really give a representative picture of Eastern religions and whether they use or make accurate translations of the texts cited. Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: Although it is often necessary to work with translated materials translations must always be identified as such an never treated as an original primary source unless the translation itself has acquired a unique status historically such as the Vulgate, Authorized Version of the Bible or Luther's German Bible.

Further Reading on Historical Methods:Writing African History Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia Montclair State University, African History: Sources, Methods, and Approaches. Forty years after the publication of Daniel McCall's. writing of African history and, in many .

Historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which historians The study of historical method and of different ways of writing history is known as historiography evidence concerning the potential reliability or unreliability of oral tradition has come out of fieldwork in West Africa and Eastern Europe.

Writing Trans-Saharan History: Methods, Sources and Interpretations Across the African Divide GHISLAINE LYDON For ages, the Sahara has been portrayed as an ‘empty-quarter’ where only nomads on their. Writing African History is an essential work for anyone who wants to write, or even seriously read, African history.

It will replace Daniel McCall's classic Africa in Time Perspective as the introduction to African history for the next generation and as a.

methods of writing african history

Sources and methods have been an ongoing concern in African history since the early years of its development as a viable field of academic specialization.

African history, this fact has led to the idea of a relatively quick and fast spreading of peoples over a huge distance stretching between the Cameroon- Nigeria border area, at present commonly accepted as the Bantu cradle, and.

Historiography and Methods of African History - African Studies - Oxford Bibliographies