History is commonly referred to as the record and narrative description of past events; it…
THE WRITING OF HISTORY
The historian’s goal is not to collect the “facts” about the past but rather to acquire insights into the ideas and realities that shaped the past of lives of men and women of earlier societies. Some of the beliefs and institutions of the past may seem alien to us, others may also seem too familiar. But in either case, when we study the people of the past, what we are really learning about is the rich diversity of human experience. The study of history, however, is the study of the beliefs and desires, practices and institutions of human beings.
African history is the study of the past institutions and cultures of the people who live in Africa. The economic, political and social activities of the people who had once lived in Africa are studied under African history.
The following is the importance of studying African history.
- The study of history like other disciplines help some individuals to earn a living (career aspect). It serves as a source of employment for people who study the subject at a higher level.
- The study of African history has helped in the discovery of the activities of man in far off times. Africa has been proved by researchers like Dr. Louis Leakey to be the original home of man (Homo sapiens). The study of African history would lead to more discoveries of hidden facts. It will highlight Africa’s contribution to world civilization.
- The study of African history gives the individual the opportunity to relate his past with the present in a better way. Thus, the various stages of society’s development that has to be evaluated to understand the present situation. One will best understand the social, economic and political state of affairs of the society if they know how things were done in the past. This gives them the key to find solutions to today’s problems.
- African history has addressed the notion and misconception that Africa has contributed insignificantly to history and to dispel the idea of white superiority, e.g., the Hamitic hypothesis assumed that the African ‘Hamites’ were ‘whites’ akin to the European as they and their culture were inherently superior to the Black Africans and their culture, so that wherever Black Africans had apparently made a striking advance, the explanation must be sought in ‘Hamitic’ influence. Early Arab and European travelers met Africans in different cultural setting. The African has distinctive names, music and dances, political and religious settings as well as rites of passage. Because these practices did not conform to the cultural practices of the Europeans and the Arab writers, they classified Africans as primitive, backward or culturally stagnant.
- African history enables the student to develop a critical mind and appreciate the variety of human behavior and motives and understand politics, economics and society. In this respect, history in the African context can increase human tolerance and respect for differences in opinion. Knowledge of other cultures through the appreciation of history encourages students of history to engage in critical analysis of their own culture and society and to understand and criticize their own assumptions.
- The study of African history is beneficial since it helps to acquire knowledge about African traditions, culture, norms, and values and to take pride in them and present them. One is able to perceive and recognize the meaning of events from a perspective other than our own to appreciate the diversity of human beliefs and cultures.
- African history enables the history student to acquire knowledge of their own country and the African continent.
- African history has a practical use in international relations and diplomacy. Its study promotes international understanding and sympathy.
- Studying African history will enable the history student to acquire the skills and values that our past can give. African history students can be inspired by events and deeds of great people that will instill in them a sense of pride.
- A proper examination of the past can tell us a great deal about how we came to be who we are.
- One studies African history to be able to appreciate the use of other sources in the writing and reconstruction of African history apart from written sources.
- It enables the student to develop an accurate sense of African historical chronology.