Until now (1960, date of the first edition), the history of Black Africa has always been written with dates as dry as laundry lists, and no one has almost ever tried to find the key that unlocks the door to the intelligence, the understanding of African society.
Failing which, no researcher has ever succeeded in revivifying the African past, in bringing it back to life in our minds, before our eyes, so to speak, while remaining strictly within the realm of science.
Yet the documents at our disposal allow us to do that practically without any break in continuity for a period of two thousand years, at least insofar as West Africa is concerned.
Therefore, it had become indispensable to unfreeze, in a manner of speaking to defossilize that African history which was there at hand, lifeless, imprisoned in the documents.
However, this work is not properly speaking a book of history; but it is an auxiliary tool indispensable to the historian. It indeed affords him a scientific understanding of all the historical facts hitherto unexplained. In that sense, it is a study in African historical sociology. It permits us no longer to be surprised at the stagnation or rather the relatively stable equilibrium of precolonial African societies: the analysis of their socio-political structures presented in it allowing us to gauge the stabilizing factors in African society.
One thereby understands the technical and other lags to be the result of a different kind of development based upon absolutely objective fundamental causes.
Thus, there is no longer any reason for embarrassment.
Once the awareness achieved, we can immediately and fully in almost every slightest detail relive all the aspects of Africans national life: the administrative, judicial, economic, and military organizations, that of labor, the technical level, the migrations and formations of people and nationalities, thus their ethnic genesis, and consequently almost linguistic genesis, etc.
Upon absorbing any such human experience, we sense deep within ourselves a true reinforcement of our feeling of cultural oneness.
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