Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Man & His Ways, An Introduction to the Customs and Beliefs of Rhodesia's African People, by Ministry of Information, Immigration and Tourism, Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1969. This very interesting booklet's purpose is to tell the Rhodesian of European extraction and the tourist, such as they were in this besieged country, fighting Soviet Communist trained terrorists on one hand and Chinese Communist trained terrorists on the other, all the while cut off from the world by the UN, Great Britain and a hypocritical USA, about the customs and habits of the native people. There were things I didn't know that were brought to light in this book that explains some of recent African history that befuddled me. For instance, in Liberia's recent civil wars a coup member actually cut off and ate part of the body of a former president whom he had killed. The reason for this is that by eating a part of the victim's body, a murderer becomes one with the victim and the victim's angry spirit will not seek revenge. Amazing stuff. The African's overwhelming fear of witchcraft and some of the violent behavior we have seen in the news lately in Nigeria are explained, as well, taking the mystery out of some macabre barbarity. Of course, the writers make comparisons to European history and customs not too long ago abandoned that show how closely related we are to the African. Its well written, handling the African culture with respect and always reminding the European that not long ago his or her ancestors did the same things and felt very similarly about life and death, marriage, business, what constitutes being polite or rude, etc. etc. Worth reading if you can get the book. I'm not giving mine up.
Posted by Frederick Widdowson