In this post I shall provide a summary of Dr. Kwaku Person-Lynn’s Slideshow contrasted with Basil Davidson’s Africa series of documentary videos.
Dr. Kwaku Person-Lynn examines what has been taken from Africa, but does not limit the analysis to resources or territories. He also mentions the cultural artefacts taken from Africa, including inventions, music, and legends that non-Africans took and co-opted, depriving Africa of its history. In the process, Africans have been deprived of important socio-cultural continuity, leaving modern Africa, in the eyes of Europeans at least, without a history. This contributes to the dysfunctional nature of some African societies. Dr. Person-Lynn presents his findings in a considerably more intimate and personal way, creating the impression that he sought to deliver an account that impacted the viewer on an individual level.
Basil Davidson is considerably more optimistic, looking instead at the great cultural, technological, and social innovation generated by Africa. He argues that although this great African history has been suppressed in the popular European consciousness, it still exists and spreading awareness of it is critical. Basil Davidson delivers a more conventional historical narrative, in what is basically a history text in documentary format. It is advantageous in that it puts a greater stress on factual affairs, but lacks a certain emotional impact.
The common thread in these two men’s presentation is that Africa has been deprived of its history by colonial powers. They agree that, with some work, Africa’s history can be restored. When that occurs, neither of them know.