A rightful backlash

March 6, 1998

CONSIDERING that he has taken the trouble of writing a book on the subject, I was quite surprised by Stephen Howe's misunderstanding of the nature of Afrocentrism (THES, February ).

Even its most extreme manifestations can arguably be seen as a perfectly understandable backlash to centuries of the sometimes wilful suppression of whole chunks of a nation's history, with the resultant loss of identity. Where other nations have been able to flaunt their art, culture and civilisation in a historical context, Africa has had to deal with the legacy of slavery. Even African art, for example, was dismissed as "barbaric".

It should not be too difficult for Howe to understand that a balance will be struck only when the study and teaching of African history takes its rightful place in the mainstream. When historical fact is properly acknowledged and taught, there will be no need for the creation of historical fantasy.

Valerie Johnston. 57 Marston Street, Oxford

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