Professor Hair’s aim here has been to explore the European written record for the history of Africa south of the Sahara. This effectively began with the arrival of the Portuguese on the Guinea coast and many of these articles focus on Sierra Leone; others extend the enquiry to southern Africa. One particular theme is the use of early vocabularies of African languages as a source for the history of local populations. At the same time, these studies help illuminate the European reaction to the peoples and the places they encountered.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Discovery and discoveries: the Portuguese in Guinea, 1444-1650; Protestants as pirates, slavers and proto-missionaries: Sierra Leone 1568 and 1582; The abortive Portuguese settlement of Sierra Leone, 1570-1625; Hamlet in an Afro-Portuguese setting: new perspectives on Sierra Leone in 1607; The spelling and connotation of the Toponym ’Sierra Leone’ since 1461; The use of African languages in Afro-European contacts in Guinea 1440-1560; Ethnolinguistic continuity on the Guinea coast; An ethnolinguistic inventory of the Upper Guinea coast before 1700; An ethnolinguistic inventory of the Lower Guinea coast before 1700; Portuguese contacts with the Bantu languages of the Transkei, Natal and Southern Mozambique 1497-1650; Milho, Meixoeira and other foodstuffs of the Sofala Garrison, 1505-1525; Index.
'Taken as a whole, the articles...give readers a taste of Hair’s thoughtful (and at times pugnacious) approach to African history.' African Studies Review '...this collection illustrates why Hair is so much appreciated as a scholar by historians of West Africa. His meticulous eye for detail and his unstinting efforts to find the very last bit of evidence about the issue he studies are hallmarks of every single paper in the collection.' International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 23, Nos. 2-3 '... a particularly useful volume for historians, especially as several of the articles initially appeared in local journals in Africa and were not widely available... The scholarship that constitutes the body of this book is of the hightest quality and argues eloquently for Professor Hair's methodology. The author demonstrates the effectiveness of "digging out all extant primary sources and examining them in detail". The lasting value of his meticulously researched articles derives from that painstaking method and from the effective ciritical interpretation of those sources.' African History