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The past in relation to African history can be thought of as what actually took place. The past is often assembled by the historians when they are writing history. By studying the past, historians are able to come up with proof to recreate history. The proof can be in form of various resources like modern documents, letters, travelers’ accounts as well as oral customs of people, remains of the materials, for instance, Stone Age tools and artifacts. Often this portrays some facets of the past.
Looking at the relationship of the past and the present, the past in a way does influence happening of the things of the present. Historians, for instance, are living in the present however they study the things of the past and often they compare it to the present time. To understand the present, one has to know its past origins. This helps in explaining the present occurrences.
Secondary sources are often an interpretation of past occurrences. History books are a perfect example of secondary sources since it offers an interpretation of what actually occurred in the past and it uses the primary source for that purpose (Murdock 36). As a matter of fact secondary sources are often based on primary sources; however, there are instances when they can be classified as both primary and secondary sources. For instance, if a book is written during an event, for instance during a world war, it can serve as both primary and secondary sources. Historians, therefore, are tasked with changing the raw materials that are the primary source into pieces of historical writing- secondary sources that can be used by people in many years to come.
Official government documents have a lot of value to historians. The original documents and interviews contained in special collections help historians in understanding the past and restructuring books that will be used by future generations in years to come. The government records kept in depository depict the raw material of history, the very historical structure of the nation and a fundamental and essential ingredient of a society desiring to govern itself. Government records are regarded as sacred. These sources are very factual and can help historians in fact findings.
Oral tradition enables the society to pass down knowledge from one generation to another without any written texts. They help individuals in understanding the world and society around them and helps in teaching youngsters and adults crucial facets if their culture(Bentley et al. 56). The rich African tradition is oral storytelling. There are also folktales, songs, narrations, proverbs, and sayings. They help in transmitting knowledge and wisdom. Oral traditions also direct social and human ethics and allow people to find their purpose. Oral traditions help historians in understanding the culture of a particular place and the history of those people.
History and anthropology often go hand in hand. Anthropology explores the cultures or evolution of humans that has occurred before any written history. Anthropology puts emphasis on people particularly situated in time and space, their ancestors, their interaction with the environment as well as with each other together with their lifestyles, the tools they use, their diets and so forth. History, on the other hand, explores the occurrences and things of the past, however, it is not limited to humans like anthropology.
History is very dangerous when the creation and dissemination of narratives about the past rise out of and articulate identity politics. In politics, history has real implication for the present. History is often used to give meaning to the present. Often when the present is not satisfactory, the past can be invoked as a means to reconstruct the present. Nationalism and the discussion around it are often seen with regard to history. The imagined communities have shown how the nationalist societies and the political which establish them, utilize the power of the past to call for change in the present. The past provided the basis of this imagined community and the political elites derive the power from the inadequacies of the past. In fact, historical conflicts can be manipulated by the political elites to validate perhaps their lack of transparency or fairness.
Research of the archaeologists is beneficial for African historians because it helps in confirming the things that have said about people in ancient times. For instance, the link between African tribe and Europe, the discovery of ancient coin affirm that. Archeology helps in confirming that Africa has a history prior to the first contact with Europe. Archeology is very essential in writing African history when there are no other proofs (Marks 12). It has also helped African historians in proving that man has origins in Africa. In fact, it has been proven that the early man originated from Africa. Archeology in Africa helps in exposing its rich culture. Archeology is also crucial to African historians since it helps them show that African has adapted to his surrounding over time. It depicts the numerous changes in life, climate as well as other conditions documented and how people have adapted to those changes over the years.
Bentley, Jerry H., et al. "Traditions & encounters: a global perspective on the past." (2006).
Marks, Robert B. The origins of the modern world: A global and ecological narrative from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006.
Murdock, George Peter. "Africa: its peoples and their culture history." (1959).
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