When public informer, African expert and professor emeritus Tore Linné Eriksen has mobilized his encyclopedic cornucopia and boiled Africa down to 390 pages, my expectations pop up.
I celebrated Christmas with Eriksen's formidable project Africa – from the first people to today. And of all things, I warmed up with the BBC and Professor Sam Willis' journey along the Silk Road, the trade route from Baghdad to China. Willis traces our European history in the libraries in Uzbekistan, in Samarkand and Bukhara, in Muslim academies. I did not know that Aristotle did not come to us directly from Greece, but from the booksellers in Samarkand who had preserved, translated and interpreted the "forgotten" sage. And I learned that "algorithm" comes from the mathematician al Khwarizmi in Uzbekistan, one of the "cities" that in western heads has been reduced to "something" by terrorists and broken communism. From Uzbekistan straight into Silicon Valley and Facebook.
It is striking that the framework narratives do not have more genuine African voices.
Then Linné Eriksen met me and reminded me that Africa is close, that we find our ancestors and our history in the museums in Addis Ababa, how colonial history is linked to our own history, and I understand how embarrassed the arrogance of racism should do us.
There is a clear symbolism in the book's last, inner cover pages, an iconic map of the continent that can accommodate many of the world's largest countries: In Africa, the United States, China, India and most. . .