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Africana Resources for Undergraduates

Africana Resources for Undergraduates: A Bibliographic Essay (1995)
Nancy J. Schmidt

This essay is reproduced by permission from: Phyllis M. Martin and Patrick O'Meara (eds.), Africa, 3rd edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995, pp. 413-434. The author would like to point out that this essay, published in 1995 and written a year before, does not reflect more recent publications and web resources. Special thanks to Lauris Olson and David Toccafondi of the University of Pennsylvania for creating the web version of this essay.


General Overviews
History, Including Archaeology
Society, Including Anthropology, Sociology, and Women's Studies
Religion and Philosophy
Politics and International Relations
Literature, Including Folklore
South Africa
Materials Published in Africa
Audiovisual Resources
Computer Resources


Although courses on Africa have been part of the undergraduate curriculum in American colleges and universities for more than three decades, it is surprising how few materials have been written specifically for undergraduates. The resources included in this essay were written for undergraduates or are relatively accessible to them. The focus is on resources in English published or reissued since 1980, which cover the whole continent or sub-Saharan Africa, rather than individual countries. It is beyond the scope of this essay to provide resources specific to Africa's more than fifty nation-states. However, resources on South Africa have been included, since a chapter on South Africa is included in this volume. [p. 414]

This essay is addressed to undergraduate students, librarians who select materials for undergraduate collections, and faculty who teach undergraduate courses. Accurate, up-to-date materials which could form a core collection for undergraduate libraries have been selected for inclusion in the essay. Sections on audiovisual and computer resources have been included, since they are as essential to curricula on Africa in the 1990s as are print resources.

The essay is arranged in subject sections which generally correspond to academic disciplines in the social sciences and humanities included in the undergraduate curriculum. However, a hallmark of much research and writing on Africa is that it is interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary. Thus, resources on most subjects will be found in more than one section. Journals and reference materials are described in the appropriate subject sections. Journals are referred to again in the section on computer resources, without being described.

General Overviews

Given the size of the continent, it is not surprising that there are few works which attempt to synthesize information for the whole region. However, several works that are broad in scope provide useful general background on the continent.

The Africa That Never Was (Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, 1992), by Dorothy Hammond and Alta Jablow, was first published in 1970. This is a study of how literary stereotypes of Africa developed in Britain from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. It is even more relevant in the 1990s than when it was first written because of the current interest in mixed genres, and the distinction between and blurring of fact and fiction. This work provides background for both social science and humanities writing about Africa,

The first edition of Through African Eyes (New York: Cite Books, vol. 1, 1988; vol. 2, 1994), edited and with introductions by Leon Clark, was a highly successful collection of readings written by Africans and expressing African viewpoints published in 1969. It has been extensively revised and published in two volumes. Volume 1, The Past and Road to Independence, includes essays and excerpts from fiction and poetry in four sections: the African past, the coming of the European, the colonial experience, and the rise of nationalism. Volume 2, The Present - Tradition and Change, was scheduled for publication in December 1994.

Understanding Contemporary Africa (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1992), edited by April A. Gordon and Donald L. Gordon, is written especially for persons with little previous knowledge of Africa. It provides background for understanding the realities of Africa in the 1990s, taking a multidisciplinary approach to major issues and institutions, with one chapter on South Africa. The emphasis is on the present and the near future.

Two interdisciplinary journals which are basic for African Studies and include both essays and book reviews are Africa and the African Studies Review. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (Manchester: Manchester University [p. 415] Press) has been published quarterly since 1928. It began as a journal for anthropology and linguistics but has been interdisciplinary, with an emphasis on the social sciences, since the 1970s. It still includes more anthropological articles than does the African Studies Review (Atlanta: African Studies Association), which has been published quarterly since 1958. In the 1980s a series of major reviews of contemporary research appeared in the African Studies Review, which includes more articles on the arts than does Africa.

For general reference, the Political and Economic Encyclopedia of Africa (Detroit: Gale Research, 1993), by Guy Arnold, gives information on fifty-four countries, including historical, cultural, geographical, political, and economic background, major leaders, and statistical information on such topics as population, trade, education, birth rate, life expectancy, and imports and exports. General information on international organizations, political parties, and a range of topics such as debt, health, and guerrilla movements also is included.


The Changing Geography of Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), by A. T. Grove, is written especially for secondary school and college students. It covers the physical and cultural geography of the continent thematically from the prehistoric period to the present and includes numerous diagrams and maps. The physical environment, ecology, pests and diseases, traditional lifeways, and history are covered as general background. Development during the colonial period and since independence, including mineral extraction, water resources, agriculture, and industrialization, as well as population, migration, and urbanization are discussed.

Tropical Africa (New York: Routledge, 1994), by Tony Binns, is a concise text included in a series on Third World Development which covers forty-three continental and island states. The environment, population, and rural and urban communities in historical perspective are discussed, and short case studies on the Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) are included.

Contemporary Africa: Development, Culture and the State (New York: Longman, 1986), by Morag Bell, focuses on the political geography of sub-Saharan Africa, examining both macro factors such as subcontinent, nation, and region, and micro factors such as community and household. Development since the colonial period is related to a range of factors of interest to geographers, including population, migration, foreign investment, spatial planning, development planning, and regional cooperation, among others. Most examples are from English-speaking Africa.

Lloyd Timberlake provides an overview of environmental problems in the continent in Africa in Crisis (London: Earthscan, 1988). He takes an activist stance and focuses on issues that make the newspaper headlines, such as drought, famine, and overpopulation, as well as on other fundamental problems such as the loss of forests and the misuse of soil and water, and relates them to their social and political causes. [p. 416]

Cities in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding southern Africa, are the focus of The African City (New York: Africana, 1983), by Anthony O'Connor. He provides an overview of their distribution, rural-urban migration, ethnic groups, economy, residential patterns, housing, rural-urban relationships, and national urban systems, with an emphasis on the period from independence to the early 1980s.

Since there is no recent atlas with large detailed maps which focuses on the continent, recent world atlases should be consulted. For example, The Times Atlas of the World (London: Times Books, 1993) includes detailed maps, with two or three African countries shown per page. The gazetteer includes major cities, towns, and natural features.

Africa Today: An Atlas of Reproducible Pages (Wellesley, Mass.: World Eagle, 1994), which is updated every few years, provides a collection of maps in the public domain that cover historical, economic, social, and political data for the continent, and the most recent 8 1/2" x 11" CIA map for each African country. The CIA maps are less detailed than those in The Times Atlas of the World. Africa Today is a useful resource for teaching, as well as quick reference.

History, Including Archaeology

There are more general works written on African history than on most other subjects. African Archaeology (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), by David W. Phillipson, provides a summary and interpretation of data from the first appearance of humans until written history becomes a primary resource. The focus is on economic development and general lifestyle, rather than on the definition and succession of archaeological industries. The emergence of human beings, early toolmaking, and other skills, regional diversification, the beginning and development of permanent settlements, farming, ironmaking, and other craft skills are discussed. Graham Connah's African Civilizations (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987) is more narrowly focused on an archaeological perspective on precolonial cities and states in sub-Saharan Africa. He synthesizes data available to the early 1980s and discusses it by region. Archaeological concepts and types of evidence used also are discussed.

A History of the African People (Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, 1992), by Robert W. July, now in its fourth edition, is a chronological, thematic history that aims to synthesize data and explain the past. It is divided into four major sections on ancient Africa, the period of modern state building and colonization, colonial Africa, and independent Africa. Within each section, chapters are arranged regionally and thematically, with discussion of such topics as state building, trade, population changes, and religion. There is more focus on cultural history than in most other comprehensive histories, with a final chapter on cultural independence in which such topics as négritude, the African personality, ecology, free trade, and democracy are discussed.

Africa since 1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), by Roland Oliver and Anthony Atmore, is a standard narrative history of the continent now in its [p. 417] fourth edition. Africa is discussed regionally within three major time periods: precolonial, colonial, and since independence. It has been substantially updated since the third edition to include new perspectives of the precolonial period and reflect changes since the end of the Cold War. Numerous maps are included.

Decolonization in Africa (New York: Longman, 1983), by John D. Hargreaves, is written for students and general readers and focuses on the period from the 1930s up to the early 1960s. It covers the continent and is divided into chapters on historical periods, each of which is subdivided into sections on regional differences and other significant factors. It summarizes much primary material which will not be available in most undergraduate libraries.

In The African Experience (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991), Roland Oliver provides an overview of African history from prehistoric times to the present, taking a chronological and thematic approach and dealing with themes of importance for the continent as a whole. It draws on data from The Cambridge History of Africa and the UNESCO General History of Africa, but is written for the general reader and avoids the use of specialized terminology and the many details included in these two compendia.

For significantly more detailed coverage than is included in the sources mentioned above, there are two multivolume compendia of essays by African and Africanist historians which cover the period from early prehistoric times to the early independence period in eight volumes. Although much the same data are covered in both compendia, the approach differs. The Cambridge History of Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975-86) follows standard historiography and includes bibliographic essays in each volume related to the major topics covered in the volume. The UNESCO General History of Africa(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981-92) takes a cultural historical approach. Since it aims to take a revisionist approach, a substantial part of the first volume is devoted to methodology, explaining the interdisciplinary nature of the research upon which it is based. Both compendia are recommended for any undergraduate library which can afford to collect on African history in depth.

One aspect of the revisionist approach taken in the UNESCO General History of Africa which has attracted considerable attention in the U.S. in recent years is Afrocentrism. The basic historical work from which the Afrocentric approach is derived is Cheikh Anta Diop's The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality (New York: Lawrence Hill, 1974), in which Diop, a Senegalese scholar, discusses black African contributions to Egyptian civilization and the relationship between Egyptian and sub-Saharan African cultures. This work was first published in French in 1965, was translated into English in 1974, and is still in print. In Afrocentricity (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 1988), Molefe Asante discusses the ideas of Diop and other selected African authors to a Pan-African or Afrocentric perspective of American and world culture, while in The Afrocentric Idea (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987) Asante provides a general summary of the conceptual background (historical, cultural, and philosophical) of Afrocentrism and its relevance to the African-American context. [p. 418]

The Journal of African Civilization (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers), published annually or biannually since 1979, takes an Afrocentric approach in showing the contributions of Africans to world civilization. Most of the volumes focus on single topics such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Egypt revisited, the African presence in early Europe, and black women in antiquity. Two highly respected quarterly journals which represent mainstream scholarship and include articles and book reviews are the Journal of African History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1960- ), which includes articles on archaeology, and the International Journal of African Historical Studies (Boston: African Studies Center, Boston University, 1968- ).

For reference, the Historical Atlas of Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), edited by Michael Crowder and J. F. Ade Ajayi, covers seventy-two topics from the prehistoric period to the 1980s. For each topic there is one or more maps of high cartographic standard, one or more photographs, and a short authoritative essay on the events, processes (such as migrations or growth of states), or tabulations (such as distribution of prehistoric sites or rainfall) depicted. A detailed index includes all the names on the maps. The New Atlas of African History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991), by G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, covers the prehistoric period to 1990 in 103 maps, with sixty-three pages of commentary. The maps cover fewer topics and are less detailed than those in the Historical Atlas of Africa, although some maps focus on more specific historical events.

Society, Including Anthropology, Sociology, and Women's Studies

Since anthropology was the first discipline to study African societies, there is a wealth of anthropological material on Africa written since the end of the nineteenth century compared to most other disciplines. In the 1960s and 1970s, case studies of African societies were written especially for undergraduates to supplement earlier essays that had long been used in the absence of textbooks. In recent years anthropological studies have become quite specialized, and few general societal overviews like those characteristic of the early twentieth century have been written. However, a significant number of materials that describe African societies in the 1950s, 1960s, and occasionally earlier are still in print.

Peoples of Africa (Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, 1988), edited by James L. Gibbs, was first published in 1965 and is still in print, since no recent collection of general case studies has been published. This collection of fifteen essays provides short descriptions of economic, social, and political organization and values of some of the best-known ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa in the mid-twentieth century: the Igbo, Tiriki, Ganda, Hausa, Jie, Kpelle, Kung, Mbuti, Somali, Fulani, Rwanda, Suku, Swazi, Tiv, and Yoruba.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Holt, Rinehart and Winston published a series of case studies of African societies especially for undergraduates, which in around one hundred pages covered the same topics as the essays in the Gibbs volume, plus providing historical [p. 419] background and a discussion of change. A few of these case studies are still in print, including Victor Uchendu's The Igbo of Southeast Nigeria (1965).

Waveland Press has reprinted some of the Holt, Rinehart and Winston case studies, to which the authors have added a chapter discussing changes since the case study was first written. These reprints include The Swazi: A South African Kingdom (1986), by Hilda Kuper; The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria (1984), by William Bascom; The Kanuri of Borno (1987), by Ronald Cohen; The Barabaig: East African Cattle-herders (1985), by George J. Klima; and The Qemant: A Pagan-Hebraic Peasantry of Ethiopia (1984), by Frederick C. Gamst. Waveland Press also has published new case studies for undergraduates, including Mandinko: The Ethnography of a West African Holy Land (1987), by Matt Schaffer and Christine Cooper, and Nubian Ethnographies (1991), by Elizabeth Fernea, Robert Fernea, and Aleya Rouchdy.

Several older collections of essays which were written before materials for undergraduates were prepared deal with a specific facet of culture, and these have been reprinted. African Political Systems (New York: Kegan Paul, 1987), edited by Meyer Fortes and E. E. Evans-Pritchard, was first published in 1940 to provide examples of the diversity of political systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The essays describe political organization and leadership among the Zulu, Ngwato (Tswana), Bemba, Ankole, Kede, Kavirondo, Tallensi, and Nuer. African Systems of Kinship and Marriage (New York: Kegan Paul, 1987), edited by A. R. Radcliffe-Brown and Daryll Forde, was published in 1950 to provide a general view of the nature of kinship and its implications in sub-Saharan Africa in the colonial/pre-independence period. The essays discuss the Swazi, Nyakyusa, Tswana, Lozi, Zulu, Central Bantu of Zaire and Zambia, Ashanti, Yako, Nyaro, and Nuer.

The new People of Africa Series of case studies is appropriate for undergraduates. It takes an interdisciplinary approach, focusing on archaeology, history, and anthropology, to discussing African ethnic groups in their historical and cultural contexts. The first volume, The Shona and Their Neighbors (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1994), by David Beach, traces the history of the Shona from prehistoric times to the present, in rural and urban settings, including Harare, Zimbabwe, and describes their economic, social, political, and religious life and thought and their relationship to the neighbors, especially the Ndebele. Future volumes will be on the Berbers, Maasai, Ethiopians, Swahili, and other major ethnic groups of the continent.

Some works which combine ethnographic and personal accounts of African societies are appropriate for undergraduates. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas wrote The Harmless People (New York: Vintage, 1989) in 1958, providing an empathetic portrayal of the San (also known as the Bushmen) of Botswana and Namibia. It combines a nontechnical description of San culture and depictions of individuals the author knew. A final chapter briefly describes how life had changed for those San the author knew who were still alive in 1986 and 1987. A series of films by John Marshall, discussed in the audiovisual section of this essay, depicts some of the people described in The Harmless People. In the Shadow of the Sacred Grove (New York: Vintage, 1989), written by Carol Spindel, is an empathetic account of the Senufo of Cote d'Ivoire in the 1980s, which describes both the author's experiences during [p. 420] fieldwork and the village surroundings in which the Senufo live. This contemporary, humanistic account depicts one West African society more holistically than most contemporary ethnographies written by anthropologists.

Life histories by anthropologists provide an understanding of the role of individuals in their societies, and sometimes also an understanding of the relationship of anthropologists to the people they study. Nisa: The Life and Words ofa Kung Woman (New York: Viking, 1983) covers Nisa's life from childhood to middle age as told to Marjorie Shostak. It is a detailed and empathetic account of Nisa's life, with an introduction and epilogue by Shostak about the fieldwork related to the collection of the biography. Bambo Jordan: An Anthropological Narrative (Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press, 1994), by Bruce T. Williams, tells the story of Jordan's life, especially his relationship to Williams during his fieldwork in Malawi in the 1960s and 1970s. Told in narrative and dialogue, which contributes to the characterization of Jordan and Williams, the narrative also depicts the colonial legacy and status inequality in Malawi, and the relative poverty of Malawi compared to the great wealth of the U.S.

Although not written especially for undergraduates, Social Conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990), by Roy A. Carr-Hill, presents important background for understanding social and economic issues. Carr-Hill, a sociologist, discusses how information is produced from available data covering such topics as how statistics take on a life of their own, how governments and international agencies use dubious statistics to make points, and the limits of quantification. He discusses methods of collection, provides summaries of available statistics, and suggests ways to improve data collection topically (e.g., food, fuel, water, health, education) and thematically (industrialization, modernization, urbanization, refugees, war, and destabilization).

The study of African women is a relatively recent focus for social scientists and is highly interdisciplinary. African Women South of the Sahara (New York: Longman, 1984), edited by Margaret Jean Hay and Sharon Stichter, includes eleven essays divided into three sections on women in the economy, society and culture, and politics and policy, which discuss women in rural and urban contexts, in literature and art. A new edition is being prepared. Women and Class in Africa (New York: Africana, 1986), edited by Claire Robertson and Iris Berger, includes fourteen essays on sub-Saharan Africa from Marxist and feminist perspectives using theories from the social sciences and history. The essays are grouped into three sections on women's access to critical resources (social, economic, educational), dependence vs. autonomy (economic, social, political), and female solidarity or class action. Most of the case studies are from English-speaking Africa, which is also true of those in Women and the State in Africa (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1989), edited by Jane L. Parpart and Kathleen A. Staudt. The ten essays deal with women's roles in the economy, development, urban life, and land resettlement in the colonial and postcolonial periods. The essays in these volumes and special issues of journals such as "Women, Family, State, and Economy in Africa," Signs 16, no. 4 (1991), can be used to supplement more general works in the social sciences and history. [p. 421]

Short life histories of women such as those in Three Swahili Women (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), edited by Sarah Mirza and Margaret Strobel, and Life Histories of African Women (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Ashland Press, 1987), edited by Patricia Romero, also can be used as supplements to more general works. The Swahili biographies are from women who lived in Mombasa, Kenya, and cover the period 1890 to 1975, while the seven biographies collected from women in sub-Saharan Africa by Romero are about life in the colonial period, and are of interest for folklore and anthropology, as well as history.

Religion and Philosophy

Discussions of religion are frequently included in anthropological works, historical accounts of the spread of Islam and Christianity, and discussions of the arts which are created in religious contexts. Although there are many books on African theology in specific contexts, there are relatively few that discuss African religion in general. Books on philosophy are less common, since academic interest in the field is more recent. Very few books on African philosophy are easily accessible to undergraduates, since they assume detailed cultural and sometimes linguistic knowledge.

John Mbiti has written two books that provide introductions for undergraduates to the basic concepts of religion and philosophy in sub-Saharan Africa. Introduction to African Religion (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1991) is the second edition of a highly successful work first published in 1975, which places religion in its historical and cultural contexts. Although Christianity and Islam are discussed briefly, the focus is on major concepts and practices of indigenous religions related to the nature of god, spirits, and the universe, the origin of humans, rituals related to birth, marriage, and death, agriculture and other social activities, religious objects, leaders, and morals. African Religion and Philosophy (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1990) provides an introduction to the major issues of African religion and philosophy and their interrelation. It covers concepts of time, the nature of God and other supernatural beings, concepts of the person, kinship and ethnic groups, birth, marriage, and death, concepts of justice and evil, Christianity, Islam, and other religions, and provides examples primarily from English-speaking Africa.

African Philosophy in Search of Identity (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), by D. A. Masolo, is a clearly written historical overview of the ideas of major scholars and criticism of their work written for persons who are not familiar with specific works of African philosophy. It is more detailed and covers ideas and philosophers not included in Mbiti's African Religion and Philosophy. African Philosophy in Search of Identity is the most recent volume in the African Systems of Thought series, which exemplifies the interdisciplinary nature of studies of philosophy and religion. Contributing authors to the series include anthropologists, philosophers, historians, a political scientist, and a linguist. The subjects of the books in the series range from detailed discussions of philosophy, religion, and divination, to the relationship between mythology and indigenous states and modem prophets in Zaire. Most of the other volumes in the series are quite specialized for undergraduates. [p. 422]


Most recent works on the African economy deal with development. The World Bank's World Development Report 1991 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1991) focuses on "The Challenges of Development". It provides a solid introduction to development economics, including theories and policy approaches, which is accessible to undergraduates. It includes examples from countries worldwide, including African countries, and thirty-three tables on development indicators, that cover African and other nations worldwide.

Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1989) reviews economic development since independence and discusses the kinds of economic changes that will be needed to improve living standards and achieve food security and full employment by 2020. It provides a broad economic overview of the subcontinent with numerous tables that compare countries from 1960 to the mid-1980s. This is one of the most important general studies by the World Bank and is influencing current directions in economic assistance.

Goran Hyden's No Short Cuts to Progress (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983) discusses concepts of development, provides an overview of the management of African development since independence, takes a critical perspective of the contexts of African development, and looks at the challenges of development and the lack of real progress. It discusses such topics as governance, policymaking, administration, decentralization, parastatals, nongovernmental organizations, building local capacity, and the need for change by donor agencies and African governments.

Rural Development in Tropical Africa (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980), edited by Judith Heyer, Pepe Roberts, and Gavin Williams, provides an overview of rural development theory and practice and discusses why government-organized and foreign-financed projects often fail. It provides case studies on Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, and Senegal.

Markets and States in Tropical Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), by Robert H. Bates, discusses agricultural politics in sub-Saharan Africa, providing examples primarily from English-speaking Africa. It discusses the relationship between agriculture, government policy (especially government intervention in markets for agricultural commodities), and the fate of peasants in the development process.

African Cities in Crisis(Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1989), edited by Richard E. Stern and Rodney R. White, combines economics and politics in analyzing rapid urban growth. The ten essays discuss rapid urban growth especially in the 1970s due to migration from rural areas, covering such topics as environmental and economic factors, the administration of urban services, and urban local government. Case studies on Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Zaire, Senegal, Tanzania, Sudan, and Kenya are provided in a comparative empirical framework relevant for policy studies. [p. 423]

Politics and International Relations

The focus of most recent political writing is on politics since independence and on the role of Africa in the world arena in the 1990s and beyond. A unique work by a historian points to a dimension of politics usually ignored by political scientists. In An African Voice(Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1987), Robert W. July discusses the role of the humanities in African independence, focusing on the ideas of African humanists surrounding independence. It discusses oral and written literature, the visual arts, theater, dance, education, and concepts of the African personality in the two decades after World War II, providing insight into locally relevant background that is rarely the concern of political scientists.

Two recently revised textbooks take different approaches in giving an overview of African politics. Government and Politics in Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), by William Tordoff, takes a topical approach, providing an overview of African politics from independence to mid-1991, with sections on nationalism and the transfer of power, state and society, political parties, administration, the military, and revolutionary movements and regimes in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Guinea, Congo, Somalia, and Ethiopia. It includes a list of changes in country names. Politics and Society in Contemporary Africa (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1992), by Naomi Chazan et al., uses a political interaction framework and places Africa in the context of global structure and priorities in recent years. It is divided into four parts on political structure, political process, political economy, and international relations within Africa and the world at large, and provides examples from the continent. South Africa is the only country which has a single chapter. Information on rulers since independence and political parties for each country is provided in an appendix.

Two collections of essays which provide political surveys of the first twenty-five years of independence take different approaches and complement each other. African Independence: The First Twenty-Five Years (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), edited by Gwendolen Carter and Patrick O'Meara, takes a thematic approach, covering topics such as the legacy of colonialism, ethnic relations, regionalism, the military, urban growth, relations with major powers and the United Nations, and ideology. It also includes a short bibliography of books arranged by topic and country, most of which are appropriate for undergraduates. In contrast, Politics and Government in African States, 1960-1985 (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1986), edited by Peter Duignan and Robert Jackson, takes a geographic approach covering sub-Saharan Africa. Essays focus on regions such as francophone West Africa, lusophone Africa, and the Horn of Africa, or countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, Zaire and Cameroon, and South Africa. Although not all countries of the subcontinent are covered, those which have been of most interest in the United States are included.

Other collections of essays focus on recent political changes and topics of current political interest. Democracy in Developing Countries, vol. 2: Africa (Boulder, [p. 424] Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1988), edited by Larry Diamond, Juan J. Linz, and Seymour Martin Lipset, is part of a four-volume series that takes a multidisciplinary approach (historical, social, economic, political, cultural, and international) to selected countries. Six case studies, of Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Uganda, review the political history of the countries since independence and discuss factors related to the future persistence of democracy. An introductory chapter discusses general factors related to democratic success and failure in sub-Saharan Africa.

The essays in Governance and Politics in Africa (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1992), edited by Goran Hyden and Michael Bratton, attempt to put current reforms in the context of how selected countries have been governed since independence. There is a general discussion of governance and three regime types: experiments with democracy, populist and military, and one-party states. The case studies are of Senegal, Botswana, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zaire.

Two collections of essays examine diverse aspects of Africa in world politics in the 1990s. Africa in World Politics (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1991), edited by John W. Harbeson and Donald Rothchild, examines the changing position of Africa in international relations in the post-Cold War world and identifies new issues and opportunities that may emerge. The fifteen essays are divided into four sections on the determinants of Africa's international relations, international conflict areas in Africa (South Africa, the Horn, Libya), Africa and the powers (Europe, Middle East, Russia, U.S.), and the management of interstate conflict. The nine essays in Africa in World Politics: Into the 1990s (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), edited by Ralph I. Onwuka and Timothy M. Shaw, discuss the nonaligned movement, the Organization of African Unity, the Soviet-based Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, the Economic Organization of West African States, regionalism, foreign military intervention, the Angolan struggle, and francophone exclusivity and interdependence. The introduction argues for new approaches, and the conclusion is on the political economy of Africa from 1960 to 1985.

Book-length case studies of politics in many African states have been published since 1980 in the Profiles of Nations of Contemporary Africa series (Boulder, Colo.: Westview) and the Marxist Regimes series (New York: Pinter). The volumes in these two series cover the period since independence but provide relevant historical backgroundfrom the colonial period.

For reference, Political Leaders of Contemporary Africa South of the Sahara (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1992), edited by Harvey Glickman, provides detailed discussions of fifty-four major political leaders since 1945 which provide far more information than either general or Africa-focused biographical directories. This biographical dictionary is also valuable as a collection of essays on persons who have had influence on African politics beyond their own countries. African Political Facts since 1945 (New York: Facts on File, 1991), compiled by Chris Cook and David Killingray, provides a short chronology of major events for the continent 1945-1990, and information for each country on such topics as governors, heads of state and major ministers, constitution and parliamentary structure, political parties, major [p. 425] treaties, wars and coups, and a comparison of population at selected dates from the 1940s to 1980s. There is a section of short biographies, but no criteria are provided for selection. Nor are sources provided for statistical information.

American newspapers which provide significant coverage of African news are discussed in the section on computer resources. Many libraries subscribe to the weekly Facts on File (New York: Facts on File, 1940- ), which provides short news summaries primarily from English-speaking Africa and on trouble spots. Longer news summaries with somewhat broader coverage are included in the "Update" section of Africa Report (New York: African American Institute), America's longest-lived news magazine on Africa, which has been published bimonthly since 1956. Africa Report also includes articles on political, economic, social, and occasionally cultural events of the continent. For more frequent coverage, the weekly West Africa (London: West Africa Publishing Company, 1917- ) provides reports on major events outside West Africa and more detailed coverage for West African countries. Transafrica Forum (New York: Transafrica Forum, 1982- ) is a quarterly journal that focuses on current U.S. policy toward Africa.


The African arts were studied by anthropologists before they became of interest to art historians and other scholars. Contemporary contextual studies of the African arts are highly interdisciplinary, and the arts are frequently studied in combination, even though one of them may be the focus.

African Art in Cultural Perspective: An Introduction (New York: W. W. Norton, 1973), by William Bascom, an anthropologist, is still in print after more than twenty years. It focuses primarily on sculpture in sub-Saharan Africa, is organized by country and region, focusing on a few ethnic groups in each, and is illustrated by more than one hundred black and white photographs. African Art (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1993), by Frank Willett, an art historian, is a revision of the 1971 edition which provides an introduction to the art, architecture, and sculpture of the continent. Methods for studying African art are discussed, art from prehistoric rock painting to contemporary art influenced by European art is surveyed, and black and white and a few color photographs illustrate the works discussed.

Art and Society in Africa (New York: Longman, 1980), by Robert Brain, provides a functional discussion of sub-Saharan African art in relation to its major social roles in hunting, herding, agriculture, trade, government and social control, religion, women's activities, and entertainment, with numerous illustrations. The essays in The Traditional Artist in African Societies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), edited by Warren d'Azevedo, were first published in 1974 and are still basic to the study of art and music in the field, aesthetics, the training and performance of individual artists, and audience responses to the arts. Descriptive examples are provided for the Yoruba, Akan, Anang, Hausa, Marghi, Fang, Chokwe, Basongye, and Gola who live in western and Central Africa. [p. 426]

The first survey of contemporary African art in Western media and tourist art of sub-Saharan Africa, African Art: The Years since 1920 (New York: De Capo Press, 1989), by Marshall Mount, was first published in 1973. It discusses anglophone and francophone schools of art, as well as artists who are independent of these schools, and relates the "new" art to "traditional" art and mission-inspired styles. More than seventy artists are included, and there are more than one hundred black and white photographs.

Although exhibit catalogues are specialized, some are especially appropriate for undergraduates because of their interdisciplinary focus. For example, African Art in the Cycle of Life (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987), by Roy Sieber and Roslyn Adele Walker, focuses on sculpture in sub-Saharan Africa but provides a general overview of the study of African art in the introduction. Works of art are discussed in relation to the continuity in family and social groups, transitions (such as initiation), governance, status, security (such as divination and curing), display, death, and reincarnation. Numerous photographs show both individual works and contexts of use.

Icons, Ideals and Power in the Art of Africa (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), by Herbert M. Cole, includes both "traditional" and contemporary art in relation to selected forms, e.g., naturalistic and abstract, and themes: male-female couples, mother and child, warriors, mounted leaders, and strangers, including Europeans and nonlocal Africans. The artworks are related to social, political, religious, and historical contexts and illustrated with numerous photographs. I Am Not Myself: The Art of African Masquerade (Los Angeles: Museum of Cultural History, University of California, 1985), edited by Herbert M. Cole, provides examples of masquerades in fourteen ethnic groups to show the diversity of contexts in which masks are used in sub-Saharan Africa. The introduction discusses hypotheses about the origins of masking, styles, the relationship to the supernatural, audiences, and masks as mediators. Each of the case studies discusses masks in the context of performance, religion, and other relevant ideas. The illustrations show both masks and their contexts of use.

African Arts (Los Angeles: African Studies Center, UCLA), published quarterly since 1967, began as a journal for nonspecialists but has become more academic over the years. It covers both "traditional" and contemporary art, has numerous articles on art in context, and contains excellent photographs, many in color. Contributors reflect the interdisciplinary scope of the study of the African arts. Long book reviews and reviews of exhibits are included in addition to articles.


In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the popular as well as ethnic music of Africa. African Music: A People's Art (New York: Lawrence Hill, 1975), by Francis Bebey, is still in print. Written for the nonspecialist, it provides a general introduction to sub-Saharan African "traditional" music and its communal nature. [p. 427] Contexts in which music is performed, roles of musicians in their communities, musical instruments and how they are played, and general characteristics of musical compositions are discussed. There are numerous black and white photographs. The discography is now quite out of date. African Rhythm and African Sensibility (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), by John Miller Chernoff, first published in 1979, also continues to be a standard introduction for nonspecialists to the general characteristics of music in sub-Saharan Africa and how music fits into African cultures. The author cites many examples from his own fieldwork.

Breakout: Profiles of African Rhythm (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), by Gary Stewart, includes profiles of fourteen musicians of popular hits in Zaire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Their musical styles and the social, economic, and political conditions of the urban areas in which they perform are discussed. A discography of their major works is included. Sweet Mother: Modem African Music (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), by William Bender, was first published in German in 1985 and is based on interviews and scholarly and journalistic sources. Written with enthusiasm to interest nonspecialists in contemporary popular music in sub-Saharan Africa, it focuses on regionally based musical styles, although it is neither comprehensive nor authoritative. The musicians' accounts of their goals and activities are of particular interest. A discography is included.

Literature, Including Folklore

The publication of African literature in all genres continues to grow at a rapid pace, and the criticism of African literature is becoming both more specialized and theoretically diverse. Although many presses have published works of African literature, Heinemann has published the most volumes which are available in the U.S.

The Heinemann African Writers Series of some three hundred volumes is a major source for African literature, including fiction, poetry, and drama, written in English and translated from French, Portuguese, and Arabic into English. Works of two of Africa's three Nobel laureates, Nadine Gordimer and Naguib Mahfouz, are represented in the series. Wole Soyinka is the only African writer in English with a worldwide reputation whose works are not represented. The series includes works by such pioneer writers as Chinua Achebe, Ayi Kwei Armah, Mongo Beti, Okot p'Bitek, Bessie Head, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Flora Nwapa, Sembene Ousmane, and Leopold Senghor, as well as by younger writers including Shimmer Chinyoda, Mia Couto, Chenjerai Hove, Tanure Ojaide, Ben Okri, Sipho Sepamala, and Tiyambe Zeleza, among many others.

In addition to more than two hundred literary works by individual authors, the Heinemann African Writers Series also includes anthologies of prose, poetry, and drama, representing the continent or regions of Africa. For example, there are two volumes of literature by women, both edited by Charlotte H. Bruner, Unwinding Threads (1983) and African Women's Writing (1993). Short stories from the continent, [p. 428] arranged by region, are found in Contemporary African Short Stories (1992), edited by Chinua Achebe and C. L. Innes, while only South African authors are represented in The Heinemann Book of South African Short Stories (1994), edited by Dennis Hinson and Martin Trump. Contemporary South African poets are represented in Poets to the People (1980), edited by Barry Fineberg, while well-known poets who write in English, French, and Portuguese are represented in A New Book of African Verse (1984), and only French-language poets, translated into English, are included in French African Verse (1992). These latter two volumes are edited by John Reed and Clive Wake. In contrast, Poems of Black Africa (1975), edited by Wole Soyinka, includes 371 poems written in English, French, and Portuguese and from the oral tradition. Eight radio plays from the BBC African Theatre Series are included in African Theatre (1973), edited by Gwyneth Henderson, while four radio plays are included in South African People's Plays (1981), with an introduction about performances in South Africa by Robert Mshengu Kavanagh.

The Heinemann African Writers Series also includes more than a dozen nonfiction volumes of political interest, including such works as Jomo Kenyatta's classic ethnography of the Gikuyu, Facing Mount Kenya (1979, first published in 1938), Kenneth Kaunda's biography, Zambia Shall Be Free (1962), Kwame Nkrumah's critique of the early independence period, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1968), and Steve Biko's statement on Black Consciousness in South Africa, I Write What I Like (1978).

A complete list of the volumes in the Heinemann African Writers Series which are still in print is available from the U.S. office (361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912).

Gerald Moore's Twelve African Writers (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980) includes criticism and brief biographical information on some of the best-known writers in English and French of the pioneer generation of writers: Leopold Senghor, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Sembene Ousmane, Camara Laye, Alex La Guma, Chinua Achebe, Tchicaya U Tams'i, Okot p'Bitek, Mongo Beti, Wole Soyinka, Kofi Awoonor, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o. Some of these authors, including Leopold Senghor, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Camara Laye, and Wole Soyinka, as well as others not included in Moore's volume, are the subject of volumes in the Twayne World Authors Series (New York: Twayne Publishers), which provides general introductions to the works of well-known authors.

Two general volumes of criticism which take different approaches and have been widely influential since 1980 are The African Experience in Literature and Ideology (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), by Abiola Irele, and Toward the Decolonization of African Literature (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1983), by Chinweizu, Onwuchekwa Jemie, and Ihechukwu Madubuike. Irele's volume, first published in 1981, covers the study of African literature, the nature of criticism, the question of whether to write in African or European languages, negritude, Pan-Africanism, and essays on authors of fiction in French and three Nigerian authors who use the Yoruba tradition in different ways: D. O. Fagunwa, Amos Tutuola, and Wole Soyinka. The volume by Chinweizu et al., first published in [p. 429] Nigeria in 1980, criticizes the approaches to criticism of African literature taken up to 1980 and argues for a more Afrocentric and less Eurocentric approach to the writing and study of African literatures.

The most recent attempt to provide a history of African written literature in one volume is A History of Twentieth Century African Literatures (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993), edited by Oyekan Owomoyela, a collection of essays on literature in English, French, and Portuguese, covering fiction, poetry and theater, African-language literatures, women writers, the question of language, and publishing. Although the essays vary in scope and depth, the volume provides an introduction to major themes and well-known authors.

For reference, A New Reader's Guide to African Literature (New York: Africana, 1983), edited by Hans M. Zell, Carol Bundy, and Virginia Coulon, is the most comprehensive one-volume reference work that covers African literature written in European languages and oral literature selectively. Works of literature with brief annotations are listed by country, biographical information and a summary of criticism are provided for nearly one hundred of the best-known writers, and a list of major literature journals with brief descriptions of their content are included. There are no plans for updating this work in the near future. Twentieth-Century Caribbean and Black African Writers (Detroit: Gale Research, 1st series 1992, 2nd series 1993), edited by Bernth Lindfors and Reinhard Sander, includes detailed biographies and summaries of criticism for forty-one of the best-known African authors who write in English. The assessments of these authors are longer and more up-to-date than those in A New Reader's Guide to African Literature, and include longer bibliographies of critical works.

Research in African Literatures (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), published quarterly since 1970, covers both oral and written literature. It is the leading journal in the field, which includes critical essays, bibliographies, and reviews of works about the literature of the continent in European and African languages. African Literature Today (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press) is currently an annual available on subscription, or separately by the volume. Each volume includes essays on a single topic, for example, the question of language (African or European) (1990), oral and written poetry (1988), women (1987), recent trends in the novel (1983), and myth and history (1980).

Several collections of oral literature present material in different contexts. African Folktales (New York: Pantheon, 1983), selected and retold by Roger D. Abrahams, is an attempt to provide a representative collection of oral narratives from sub-Saharan Africa. An introduction discusses the contexts in which the narratives are told. The narratives are divided into five topical sections: tales of wonder, stories to discuss and argue about, trickster tales to entertain, epics, and making a way through life. The retellings reflect different narrative styles of the original narrators.

The African Storyteller (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing Co., 1990), compiled by Harold Scheub, includes sixty oral narratives divided into four sections according to the types of characters: gods, tricksters, heroes, and men and women. More than half of the narratives are in the latter section. Thirty-five countries are [p. 430] represented; all but four narratives are from sub-Saharan Africa. The narratives, which are identified by country and ethnic group, are written in a variety of styles, reflecting the original sources in which they were published. Several photographs of storytellers are included.

Geoffrey Parrinder's African Mythology (New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1986), first written in 1967 and revised in 1982, provides a general overview of the content and context of sub-Saharan African mythology and is illustrated with photographs of art related to the materials discussed. Summaries of legends and animal tales are included, as well as summaries of myths related to creation, birth, death, and supernatural beings with beneficial and harmful powers.

South Africa

So many books are being published on South Africa that it is difficult to select only a few to recommend. Those mentioned in this section provide basic historical background on the country and the momentous changes which have been taking place since 1990.

A History of South Africa (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), by Leonard Thompson, begins with the significance of the prehistoric period for contemporary South African perspectives, then focuses on the seventeenth century to 1989, covering five major periods: 1652-1870, 1870-1910, 1910-1948, 1948-1978, and 1979-1989. It presents balanced coverage of all racial groups and includes a chronology of major historical events.

Apartheid in South Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), by David M. Smith, is a short (86-page) basic, general introduction to the history, development, and social, economic, and political impact of apartheid, intended for persons unfamiliar with South Africa. It provides background for the period before Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, which initiated significant changes that are still in process.

Apartheid in Transition (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1987), by Anthony Lemon, is a more detailed work that provides brief historical background from the peopling of South Africa to 1948, the ideology of apartheid, rural and urban economy, population and urbanization, Indians and Coloureds, constitutional alternatives, and internal and external forces for change. Like Thompson, Lemon provides balanced coverage of all racial groups. A more journalistic account by Allister Sparks, The Mind of South Africa (New York: Knopf, 1990), gives a historical overview of apartheid, covering its major facets and capturing the essence of events since 1948. It is useful for persons unfamiliar with the history of South Africa and details of recent events there.

A History of the ANC: South Africa Belongs to Us (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), by Francis Meli, a member of the ANC National Executive Committee, covers the period from 1912 to 1987, with chapters on sources of inspiration, the formative period (1912-1919), influence of workers' organizations (1919-1928), fundamental changes (1930-1949), defiance and new strategies (1949- [p. 431] 1960), armed resistance (1961-1969), and its reemergence since 1969, including Black Consciousness, workers' action, Soweto, and the ANC. A chronology of South African history as it pertains to the ANC, the Freedom Charter, and lists of ANC presidents and secretary generals are included.

Nelson Mandela Speaks (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1993) includes thirty-one speeches given primarily to mass rallies in South Africa between Mandela's release from prison on February 11, 1990, and July 10, 1993, on goals for the future and problems that need to be solved. A chronology of events from 1990 to July 1993 and a glossary of persons and groups involved in the transition to democracy are included along with photographs of events from the period. Mandela's life from childhood to 1989 is described by Fatima Meer, a sociologist who knows Mandela and the South African situation well, in Higher Than Hope: The Authorized Biography of Nelson Mandela (New York: Harper Collins, 1991).

Waiting: The Whites of South Africa (New York: Random House, 1985), by Vincent Crapanzano, provides perspectives of individuals on being white in apartheid society. It includes personal narratives by a variety of white men and women, with background and commentary by Crapanzano. An anthology of short stories, poems, and plays by well-known black and white writers, Ourselves in Southern Africa (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), compiled by Robin Malan, gives personalized perspectives arranged by topic: speaking of ourselves, children growing up, the country, the city, on the trains, encounters with police, and inside jail. The authors are from Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Swaziland as well as South Africa.

Major Political Events in South Africa (New York: Facts on File, 1991), by Eileen Riley, will be useful if libraries lack in-depth sources on South Africa. It includes a chronology from 1948 to 1990, with one to three paragraphs for each date, and thirty very short biographies of politically prominent blacks and whites.

Materials Published in Africa

It is now relatively easy to acquire materials from some thirty major publishers in English-speaking Africa from the African Books Collective (The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HU, England), which publishes a quarterly annotated catalogue, bills libraries in dollars, and encourages individuals to charge purchases to their Visa or Master Card.

A variety of books are available, from popular general-interest material such as cookbooks, to scholarly books in science and technology. Some of the books are appropriate for undergraduates, although few focus on Africa as a whole. For example, among works of literature are The Other Woman (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1992), a collection of short stories by Grace Ogot, one of Kenya's best-known women writers, Breakfast of Sjamboks (Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1987), a collection of poetry about the civil war in Mozambique by Luckas Mkuti, and The Singing Anthill: Ogoni Folk Tales (Port Harcourt: Saros International, 1991), a collection of tortoise tales by Ken Saro-Wiwa, a well-known [p. 432] Nigerian writer. Life in Stone: Zimbabwean Sculpture (Harare: Baobab Books, 1992), by Oliver Sultan, is an illustrated volume about contemporary Zimbabwean stonecarving, while Making Music: Musical Instruments in Zimbabwe Past and Present (Harare: Baobab Books, 1992), by Claire Jones, describes and depicts musical instruments, as well as providing instructions on how to make and play them.

Works of social science appropriate for undergraduates include Kole Omotoso's work of "faction," Just before Dawn (Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 1985), which covers one hundred years of Nigerian political history and has been cited for providing a profound understanding of it. An introduction to contemporary social life in Ghana is provided in Tradition and Change in Ghana: An Introduction to Sociology (Legon: Ghana Universities Press, 1993) by G. K. Nukunya, while thirty-four Zimbabwean women tell their life stories in Independence Is Not Only for One Sex (Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1987), a volume illustrated with photographs, compiled by Kathy Bond-Stewart.

Audiovisual Resources

Africa on Film and Videotape, 1960-1981 (East Lansing: African Studies Center, Michigan State University, 1982), compiled by David Wiley, continues to be the best single source for selecting audiovisual materials for classroom use, although it is now quite dated. It includes detailed descriptions of the content of nearly eight hundred audiovisual materials, evaluations of the content by Africans and Africanist scholars, suggestions for classroom use, and overall evaluation of both content and technical factors on a five-point scale from poor to excellent. This valuable compendium is now being updated, with an anticipated completion date of 1998.

Some feature films and docudramas by African filmmakers are now available for rental and sale in the U.S. by California Newsreel (149 Ninth Street #420, San Francisco, CA 94103). It has a Library of African Cinema accompanied by guides for classroom use which include brief information about the videos, the countries in which they are made, and filmmakers, as well as general suggestions for use of the videos in the classroom.

For more information about some of the best-known African filmmakers, Twenty-five Black African Filmmakers (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), by Francoise Pfaff, provides biographical information and descriptive and critical information about the filmmakers and their films. Reviews of films by African filmmakers can be found in some of the same U.S. newspapers that have relatively comprehensive coverage of news about Africa, including the Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Post.

The Africans (Washington, D.C.: Annenberg/CPB Project, 1986), a nine-part television series by PBS narrated by Ali Mazrui, provides a historical, cultural, and political overview of the continent within the framework of the triple heritage of African traditions, Westernization, and Islam. The series was designed as an educational unit supported by two books. The Africans: A Triple Heritage (New York: [p. 433] Little Brown, 1987), by Ali A. Mazrui, includes a chapter related to each of the films, plus a general introduction and conclusion. It is attractively illustrated and can stand on its own as "an" African perspective on the relation between the African heritage, Islam, and Westernization in the colonial and independence periods. The Africans: A Reader (New York: Praeger, 1986), edited by Ali A. Mazrui and Toby Kleban Levine, includes short readings of fiction and nonfiction that support ideas expressed in the narration for the films. The readings are divided into four sections, on indigenous Africa; the triple heritage in historical, anthropological, political, fictional and journalistic perspectives; connections between North and sub-Saharan Africa; and Africa and African-American connections.

Africa: A Voyage of Discovery (Chicago: Home Vision, 1984) is a television series of eight programs prepared by Basil Davidson that first appeared on British television. It covers the continent chronologically and thematically from the precolonial period to the present. Basil Davidson is the author of numerous historical works. His Modern Africa: A Social and Political History (New York: Longman, 1989 or 1994 edition) provides background related to more than half the films. It focuses on the twentieth century and is divided into four sections covering the partition of Africa up to 1930, the colonial period from 1930 to 1945, the rise and success of nationalism, and problems and progress since independence.

The San Series of films by John Marshall, most of which have printed study guides, are available for rental and sale from Documentary Educational Resources (101 Morse Street, Watertown, MA 02172). The series includes two long and more than a dozen short films about the daily life of the San of Botswana and Namibia on such topics as hunting, games, curing, and interpersonal relations. Book-length material related to the film series is mentioned in this essay in the section on anthropology. The Documentary Educational Resources catalogue includes detailed descriptions of all of the films on Africa which DER distributes.

Audiovisual materials on Africa can be identified in the Educational Film & Video Locator (New York: Bowker, 1990) and The Video Source Book (Detroit: Gale Research, 1994), but these general sources provide neither detailed descriptions nor evaluations as do the African-focused sources mentioned above.

Computer Resources

When the previous edition of this volume was published in 1986, the CD ROM periodical indexes which are now taken for granted in libraries had only recently been developed. There are no CD ROM indexes which focus exclusively on Africa, and most of the general subject-focused indexes give only a superficial coverage of Africa. For in-depth research on Africa, currently available CD ROM indexes provide only a small beginning for research, and a variety of print indexes must be used in order to cover periodical articles published in and about Africa.

For undergraduate libraries, the best CD ROM indexes to use are the Expanded Academic Index, because it provides access to African-focused journals which [p. 434] undergraduate libraries are most likely to include in their collections, and the National Newspaper Index, which covers five U.S. newspapers with relatively extensive coverage of Africa. The African-focused journals among the 960 in the Expanded Academic Index are Africa Report, Africa Today, African Affairs, African Arts, African Studies Review, International Journal of African Historical Studies, Journal of Asian and African Studies, and Research in African Literatures. In addition, there are other journals in this index which regularly include articles on Africa, such as American Anthropologist and World Literature Today. The five newspapers covered by the National Newspaper Index - the Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post - are among the U.S. newspapers with the most extensive regular coverage of African news.

The files for the Expanded Academic Index begin in 1987, while those for the National Newspaper Index begin in 1982. Both are updated monthly. These indexes can be searched by author, title, keyword, and modified Library of Congress subject headings. The latter also are used in the print indexes, which must be used for materials published before the coverage of the CD ROM indexes: the Humanities Index, Social Sciences Index, and Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature (all produced by the H. W. Wilson Company, New York), which are available in most undergraduate libraries. A full-text version of the Expanded Academic Index became available in early 1995 which includes four hundred of the journals covered by the current CD ROM index. Among the African-focused journals listed above, only Africa Report, Africa Today, African Affairs, Journal of African History, and Research in African Literatures will be included in the full-text product.


last updated: 3/7/2012