Virtual Kollage: The methods of African history

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The methods of African history



THE METHODS OF AFRICAN HISTORY
Introduction
The continent of Africa has been of interest to historians, both inside and outside the continent for a very long time. There has always been the desire to reconstruct her past and show the world how great or otherwise Africa had been and her potentials for the future. Several methods have been employed in this reconstruction process. These processes would be discussed below.

Written documents
Important, sources of information to the historian are written documents. These documents could be transcripts, manuscripts, journals, newsletters and newspapers, all classified as primary documents. What the historian does is to peruse the documents thoroughly, concentrating on particular areas of interest. With this, the historian is able to come out with findings relevant to his area of research. In addition there are other documents that are considered secondary sources, but which are also of great importance to the study. This includes textbooks on the particular people or regions of Africa.

Accounts of eye-witnesses
Another method employed by the historian in the reconstruction of African history is eye-witness accounts. Individuals in some communities may have witnessed some events in the past. Such eye-witnesses serve as a great source of information to the historian. Accounts from such people help to write the history of Africa. The historian must be careful to sift out prejudices.

Interviews
The use of interview is another credible source of information to the historian. Usually, individuals who are well-versed in a particular aspect of the history of a people are interviewed by the historian and the information extracted from them. Such people have very sharp memories and therefore are a great resource to the historian. Most of such people are elderly linguists, retired traditional war-lords, educationists, etc.

Pyramids, Egypt, Egyptian, Ancient
Inter-disciplinary method
The inter-disciplinary method involves the use of experts from various fields of study, capable of shedding more light on aspects of the study. The experts are in the areas of archeology, bio-geography, ethnography, and linguistics. Using their expertise in their various fields, they are able to confirm or otherwise, what has already been stated elsewhere.

Personal observation
Together with all the methods of gathering information on African history discussed above, personal observation is another that cannot be ruled out. The historian is able to observe some behavioural patterns of a people and is able draw his conclusions concerning how life may have been lived in the very distant past. By further interacting with the people, the historian is able to confirm or buttress the things he may have observed.

SAMPLE QUESTION(S)
1. Describe the methods used to write African history.
2. Describe the methods that are used in collecting data for the writing of African history.

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