Landscapes, Sources and Intellectual Projects of the West African Past offers a comprehensive assessment of new directions in the historiography of West Africa. With twenty-four chapters by leading researchers in the study of West African history and cultures, the volume examines the main trends in multiple fields including the critical interpretation of Arabic sources; new archaeological surveys of trans-Saharan trade; the discovery of sources in Latin America relating to pan-Atlantic histories; and the continuing analysis of oral histories. The volume is dedicated to Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias, whose work inspired the intellectual reorientations discussed in its chapters and stands as the clearest formulation of the book’s central focus on the relationship between political conjunctures and the production of sources.
Contributors are: Benjamin Acloque, Karin Barber, Seydou Camara, Mamadou Diawara, Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias, François-Xavier Fauvelle, Nikolas Gestrich, Toby Green, Bruce Hall, Jan Jansen, Shamil Jeppie, Daouda Keita, Murray Last, Robin Law, Camille Lefebvre, Paul Lovejoy, Ghislaine Lydon, Carlos Magnavita, Sonja Magnavita, Kevin MacDonald, Thomas McCaskie, Ann McDougall, Daniela Moreau, Mauro Nobili, Insa Nolte, Abel-Wedoud Ould-Cheikh, Benedetta Rossi, Charles Stewart.
The Epic of Sumanguru Kante contains the Bamana text and English translation of griot Abdoulaye Sako’s oral narrative of the life of Sumanguru, recorded in 1997 in Koulikoro (Mali), together with explanatory notes, a scholarly introduction, and sections on the Bamana language and musical accompaniment. Sumanguru is a familiar figure within Manding epic oral traditions about ancient Mali. But while these narratives generally focus on Sunjata Keita, Sako’s oral poem is rare in according Sumanguru the central role. In so doing he includes hitherto undocumented episodes relating to Sumanguru’s life and role as the ruler of Soso, the little known state said to have flourished in the western Sudan between the fall of ancient Ghana and rise of ancient Mali.
Sheikh al-Amin Mazrui wrote his essays of this Guidance (
Uwongozi) collection in Mombasa between 1930 and 1932, providing social critique and moral guidance to Kenya’s coastal Muslims during a period of their decline during British colonial rule. The essays were initially published as a series of double-sided pamphlets called Sahifa (The Page), the first Swahili Islamic newspaper. Inspired by contemporary debates of Pan-Islam and Islamic modernism, and with a critical eye on British colonialism, this leading East African modernist takes issue with his peers, in a sharply critical and yet often humorous tone. Al-Amin Mazrui was the first to publish Islamic educational prose and social commentary in Swahili. This bi-lingual edition makes fascinating reading for specialists and general readers.