This is not the kind of book expected to appear on the doorstep wrapped in four layers of protective butcher's paper. Neither is it the kind of book that will make any kind of "best-seller" list, even in this day and age where views against the norm spring up from time to time and manage to fill the cinemas. Not that it's poorly written, but it does lack the sensationalist subjective viewpoint that grabs people's attention for a few fleeting seconds before begin forgotten. Perhaps it's too complex for the average chump, but that isn't for me to argue. What I am to discuss is the book itself.
This book is both well written and thoroughly researched. It may require a basic understanding of "philosophy", or at least the kind of patience that would keep a dictionary open to help out with the words not oft used by the lay. That being said, the book is not overly hard to read, as the wording and conceptual layout make its absorption a fairly straight forward procedure. This author has a well rounded turn of phrase that will help those unfamiliar to this topic and field get a better grasp of the matter at hand. He's not afraid to explain things, to be certain that the meaning received is the one given. It's also an important book in that the vast majority of familiar philosophy is written by Europeans. There is no Balance in this world.
The matter? That some of what Hegel has proposed in his Philosphy of History is baseless and inaccurate. We start out with a brief synopsis of the fundamental flaws of this particular work of Hegel, which is then followed by a history of Hegel himself. Clearly, this is to be sure that the reader understands that Hegel had a particular upbringing and certain influences that would point his thinking in one particular direction. It is upon this that some of Hegel's thoughts, i.e. the ones that dismiss Africa and Africans as having neither culture nor history are brought into question.
Amadiwochi points out that to rule out Africa completely from historical significance or cultural importance is incorrect. What the author seems to be saying, is: if you're not within a culture, nor have any particular understanding of said culture, it's not something that you should be denying significance. To each their own. And rightly so. If Hegel didn't live in Africa, then what would he know of its culture? Not much, other than what other people have written. So is this any kind of way to debase an entire race of people?
It is unfortunate that these views seemed to be taken up by those who looked up to Hegel, but Amadiwochi works at correcting some of Hegel's pseudo-truths about Africa and its People. Hopefully, enough people can or will read this to at least better the way we look at things that are unfamiliar.
Reviewed on Monday, 2 August 2004