African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 185

Article in Press

The Politics of Researching Africa: Sitting on Western Anthropologists by African Anthropologists”

Christopher Appiah-Thompson

  •  Received: 07 June 2018
  •  Accepted: 07 June 2018
This article discusses the validity and usage of a highly ethnographic historical oral data, with reference to some of the literal criticisms by African anthropologists on some of the recent historical and anthropological literatures by Western scholars. Specifically, the paper analyzes the Igbo ‘women’s war’ or “Aba riots” from the South-eastern part of Colonial Nigeria in 1929 through the critical reviews of African Anthropologists. The paper argues strongly that the reliability and validity of oral traditions transformed into an historical text and its usage should be based on two main factors. First, the need the Western Anthropologist or Historians to take due account of the translation of the language and cultural idioms of the culture of the people in question; and secondly, rational data control measures such as the triangulation of the oral data with other historical and ethnographic evidence whether written or unwritten must be taken during the usage of the oral evidence in research on Africa. The author uses a multi-source (historical and ethnographic literature) on the validity and usage of oral evidence by reputable African anthropologists and historians to critique the validity and misuse of ethnographic evidence (oral tradition) of Africa for ethnographic research or for the reconstruction of African history. The lesson from these ethno historic documentations is that African Anthropologists have discovered some gross mistranslations and misinterpretations of oral traditions in texts from these accounts about African culture by Western Anthropologists.

Keywords: Ethnography, Historiography, Oral data, Anthropology