Books about Africa

Martin Meredith presents an objective look at the history of African nations since the era of independence. The reasons for the dismal performance of independent nations of Africa are well presented. The greed and incompetence of ruling classes is appalling. After reading the book I had a much better understanding of what went wrong in Africa.

Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa's Future by George B.N. Ayittey, Palgrave Macmillan (January 1, 2005), ISBN: 1403963592.

George B.N. Ayittey does not mince words when he describes reasons for dismal performance of African economies: lack of economic freedom (price controls, etc), oppressive governments, civil and political strife, crumbling infrastructure, and no freedom of speech. The way to economic prosperity, in author's opinion, should be based on African traditions of free markets, free trade, and freedom of speech. Botswana reached back to its African roots and is the fastest developing country on the African continent.

The Lost Cities of Africa by Basil Davidson, ISBN: 0313332312 (1959).

This book describes the development of Iron Age cultures of sub-saharan Africa. I enjoyed reading it. The material in the book agrees with my findings in the Grasslands of Cameroon. Every village I visited had stories about their ancestors arriving from Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, or Yemen.

The Rough Guide to West Africa by Jim Hudgens, Richard Trillo, ISBN: 1843531186 (January 1, 2004).

This guide includes the following countries: Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. I used a previous edition when I was in Cameroon. The guide provided a lot of information, yet some of it was out of date, especially the telephone numbers.

Culture and Customs of Cameroon by John Mukum Mbaku, ISBN: 0316174319 (2005).

This is the best book I have seen so far about the cultures and customs of Cameroon. There are over 250 ethnic groups in Cameroon. The mixture of the old and the new is very difficult to unravel. The author does a remarkable job of presenting the complexities of life in Cameroon. The author's description is in agreement with my experience with the life in the Cameroon Grasslands. I highly recommend this book. The only drawback is the lack of maps.


Crafts and Technologies (ISBN: 0861591070) by Hans Knopfli is a great book about the craft of Grasslands of Cameroon. It contains chapters on drum-making, horn-carving, lost-wax casting, traditional pottery and raphia-weaving. This book is available from the British Museum Company. To find it there type OP107 in the "enter code or keyword" box.

You can also find it on amazon.co.uk, a British sibling of amazon.com or order it on-line at http://www.kamerun.ch/.

Sculpture and Symbolism by Hans Knopfli is the second in the series Crafts and Technologies: Some Traditional Craftsmen of the Western Grasslands of Cameroon. This is one of the best books about craft. It contains chapters on traditional woodcarving, symbols and carving on the thrones and stools, blacksmiths and making charcoal.

This book is available from :
- Basel Mission "Zur Kalebasse" , Missionsstrasse 21, 4003 Basel, Switzerland, Tel. 061 260 22 78, Fax 061 260 22 08
- Welt Laden , EMS, Vogelsangstrasse 62, D-70197 Stuttgart, Germany
- Presbook , P.O.Box 13, Limbe, S.W. Province, Republic of Cameroon
- online at http://www.kamerun.ch/.

Baskets and Calabashes, Palms and People by Hans Knopfli is the third book in the series Crafts and Technologies: Some Traditional Craftsmen and Women of the Western Grasslands of Cameroon .

This book is available from :
- Basel Mission "Zur Kalebasse" , Missionsstrasse 21, 4003 Basel, Switzerland, Tel. 061 260 22 78, Fax 061 260 22 08
- Welt Laden , EMS, Vogelsangstrasse 62, D-70197 Stuttgart, Germany
- Presbook , P.O.Box 13, Limbe, S.W. Province, Republic of Cameroon
- online at http://www.kamerun.ch/.

Living in Style, Music and Musical Instruments, Traditional Religion, Native Laws and Customs by Hans Knopfli is the fourth book in the series Crafts and Technologies: Some Traditional Craftsmen and Women of the Western Grasslands of Cameroon.

This book is available from :
- Basel Mission "Zur Kalebasse" , Missionsstrasse 21, 4003 Basel, Switzerland, Tel. 061 260 22 78, Fax 061 260 22 08
- Presbook , P.O.Box 13, Limbe, S.W. Province, Republic of Cameroon
- online at http://www.kamerun.ch/.


African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design by Ron Eglash , Rutgers University Press (1999), ISBN 0-8135-2614-0

Ron Eglash investigates fractals in African culture. Fractals are characterized by the repetition of similar patterns at ever-diminishing scales. This repetition, as documented by Ron Eglash, can be often seen in architecture, arts and crafts of Africa.