Monday, July 26, 2010

Basil Davidson -- R.I.P

I had no idea that the famous Africanist, Basil Davidson, had passed away on the 9th, of July. May he forever rest in eternal peace. I was still carrying a World Cup hangover, and that's probably why I missed his death. They say that "only the good die young", but good-old Basil was a sprightly 95 when he passed away: so much for that much-used saying!

I have three of his books in my collection, and to me, the most poignant, most pertinent, is "The Black Man's Burden". Here Basil Davidson is almost pleading with Africa's post-colonial leaders not to waste any time in proceeding with policies that would aid in Africa's development. In his later writing, one can sense a feeling of sadness -- even bewilderment -- at how independent Africa has failed to get it's act together.

For someone who had spent most of his adult life observing African civilisation, it must have been disheartening to see modern Africa's dire predicament. Basil Davidson represented all that what was noble in the British Empire.

Yes, the British did a lot of bad things to a lot of people -- ask the Irish -- but they also produced wonderfully talented individuals. If you need a British perspective on Africa, written by someone from a certain era and a certain class, then look no further than Basil Davidson.

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