Socialist Worker

Appreciating Basil Davidson

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2212

Africa in History

Africa in History

Historian Basil Davidson, who died last month, fought alongside partisans in Yugoslavia and Italy during the Second World War.

After the war he came to identify with liberation struggles across Africa. He insisted that Africans and African voices be at the centre of African history. Unfortunately many of his books are out of print, but these three are available and make an excellent introduction.

Africa in History

Davidson brought together his historical work on Africa into a comprehensive, popular work encompassing African civilisation, art and literature.

When it was published in 1975 its insistence on centring on African viewpoints was seen as revolutionary.

He shows the internal development of civilisations across the continent and how they came to influence and interact with other societies in Asia, Europe and America. The updated edition looks at Africa from prehistory, through the Atlantic slave trade, up to the end of apartheid.

Phoenix, £12.99

Modern Africa: A Social and Political History

This landmark book follows Africa through the 20th century, via imperial invasion, anti-colonial resistance and independence.

His work shows enormous faith in the ability of ordinary people to survive and resist.

Longman, £17.99

The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State

Davidson shows that pre-colonial African states could have integrated themselves into the global order on their own terms.

He argues that modern African states were never able to develop organically as their leaders were trapped in the structures imposed by the colonial powers.

Marston, £14.95

Available from Bookmarks the socialist bookshop

Modern Africa

Modern Africa

Black Man

Black Man's Burden

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Tue 27 Jul 2010, 17:54 BST
Issue No. 2212
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