If you come from, or you are a student of, Africa, you will know that much of the history of the continent has been passed down orally. Oral histories are of the the upmost importance to securing culture and understanding Africa’s history. Despite their importance, there seems to be less and less focus on learning from ones elders.
After doing interviews for my thesis, may of which were of elders that could give me an understanding of pre independence Ghana. Some of the very old were able to even tell me snippets of information about pre colonial times. It is this age group that spent time listening to their grandparents, and therefore they have knowledge of over 150 years ago. They can real off the names of their ancestors, and they know the can history inside and out. It is a rather fascinating example of incredible memory! For me as an Englishman, it was not always easy to get information and it is the same for others who go into Africa to research. (Anne Bailey had the same problem when researching her fantastic book African Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade) It is time for Africans to start interviewing their elders!
Since then, 10 years ago, I have been pleading with Ghanaians and other Africans to speak to their grandparents about their family history, record it, and write it down. For us historians, this knowledge is invaluable, but it is swiftly disappearing as one by one our African elders become ancestors. So much information has not been written down and it will be lost forever.
I studied in Ghana, and getting access to such information was extremely difficult. I had the university library, but often the books or documents I needed were no where to be found. I had access to a few journal sites like Jstor, and that helped, but I never had access to Continue reading “Did You Know Africa can now access African content for free?”