Studies on early African history are lacking for many reasons, the most obvious being that African history was for a long time considered by the colonialists as having so little value that it was not worth reconstructing. Another decisive factor is that studies of Africa were mainly carried out by European bourgeois anthropologists, whose philosophical outlook on ‘primitive societies’ caused them to separate African society from its historical context. There was a concentration on micro-units and no reference to overall patterns. The new African scholarship has been under way for too short a time to have provided any significant breakthrough. The few books cited below are part of the new approach.
The above group of books are assessments by non-Africans from a sympathetic perspective and with sufficient value for them to be respected and widely used inside Africa. M. Panikkar is an unusual example of an Asian scholar with a professional interest in the African continent.
B. A. Ogot and J. A. Kieran (editors), Zamani, a Survey of East African History.
African historians have begun to provide syntheses of the continent’s history by putting together relevant collections — usually on some section of the continent, as in the two examples above. Unfortunately, the quality varies from one selection to another, and African writers have not as yet provided any coherent overview of the regions with which the are supposedly dealing.