Historical past in Africa carried an article in 1992 entitled “The European Introduction of Crops into West Africa in Precolonial Instances.” I wrote this to appropriate an impression left by a number of historians that solely maize and cassava had been price mentioning. My studying of precolonial African historical past had made it very clear that an excellent many new crops had been delivered to the continent through the slave-trade interval. My preliminary geographical focus was what was once known as Decrease Guinea, roughly the coast from Cape Palmas to Mt. Cameroon, however inevitably my analysis took in all of western Africa from Senegal to Angola and as much as the southern fringe of the Sahara. My findings had been admittedly interim, a kind of database for future refinement. And but I used to be in a position to establish 86 launched crops.
It was ingenuous of me to count on that one paper would suffice to over-turn what had develop into standard knowledge. In 1995 John Iliffe, in 1997 Elizabeth Isichei, in 1998 John Reader repeated the maize-cassava mantra. In 2002 Christopher Ehret expanded the duo of unique crops to incorporate tobacco, peanuts, New World beans, Asian rice and sugar cane. David W. Phillipson reiterated in 2005 what he had mentioned 20 years earlier, citing solely maize, cassava and bananas. And in 2006 James L.A. Webb Jr. named simply 4: maize, cassava, peanuts and potatoes.
This sample of minimization might mirror what appears to be a normal disinclination of historians to dig deeply into botany. An necessary current e-book titled Writing African Historical past devotes solely 17 of 510 pages to the topic.
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