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Examining text sediments–Commending a pioneer historian as an “African Herodotus”: On the making of the new annotated Edition of C.C. Reindorf's History of the Gold Coast and Asante


Hauser-Renner, Heinz (2008). Examining text sediments–Commending a pioneer historian as an “African Herodotus”: On the making of the new annotated Edition of C.C. Reindorf's History of the Gold Coast and Asante. History in Africa, 35:231-299.

Abstract

In 1995 Paul Jenkins, the former Basel Mission archivist, called my attention to Carl Christian Reindorf's Ga manuscripts kept at the archives in Basel, knowing that I had lived and worked in Ghana in the 1980s and that I was able to speak, read, and write the Gã language of Accra and its neighborhood. Of course I already knew Reindorf and his monumental History of the Gold Coast and Asante published in 1895 in English, as I had written my M.A. thesis on late-nineteenth-century Asante history, and moreover, I was very much interested in Gã history. Reindorf's massive, substantive, and systematic work about the people of modern southern Ghana may be considered a pioneering intellectual achievement because it was one of the first large-scale historical work about an African region written by an African, and it was highly innovative, including both written sources and oral historical narratives and new methods for the reconstruction of African history. The book has excited interest ever since it first appeared 110 years ago because it contains an unrivaled wealth of information on the history and culture of southern Ghana. A preliminary glimpse at the two heaps of folios wrapped with linen ropes at the archives showed that the manuscripts-none of them were dated–contained two different versions of the English History. That day, when I first laid my hands on the brownish, carefully folded papers, I was not aware that I was to embark on an intensive period of arduous transcribing and translating work (sometimes “lost in translation”), breathtaking archival investigations in Basel, London, and Accra, and of an exciting text/context research (unearthing sources, excavating informants, examining sediments/versions).

Abstract

In 1995 Paul Jenkins, the former Basel Mission archivist, called my attention to Carl Christian Reindorf's Ga manuscripts kept at the archives in Basel, knowing that I had lived and worked in Ghana in the 1980s and that I was able to speak, read, and write the Gã language of Accra and its neighborhood. Of course I already knew Reindorf and his monumental History of the Gold Coast and Asante published in 1895 in English, as I had written my M.A. thesis on late-nineteenth-century Asante history, and moreover, I was very much interested in Gã history. Reindorf's massive, substantive, and systematic work about the people of modern southern Ghana may be considered a pioneering intellectual achievement because it was one of the first large-scale historical work about an African region written by an African, and it was highly innovative, including both written sources and oral historical narratives and new methods for the reconstruction of African history. The book has excited interest ever since it first appeared 110 years ago because it contains an unrivaled wealth of information on the history and culture of southern Ghana. A preliminary glimpse at the two heaps of folios wrapped with linen ropes at the archives showed that the manuscripts-none of them were dated–contained two different versions of the English History. That day, when I first laid my hands on the brownish, carefully folded papers, I was not aware that I was to embark on an intensive period of arduous transcribing and translating work (sometimes “lost in translation”), breathtaking archival investigations in Basel, London, and Accra, and of an exciting text/context research (unearthing sources, excavating informants, examining sediments/versions).

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:National licences > 142-005
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Language:English
Date:1 January 2008
Deposited On:01 Nov 2018 16:12
Last Modified:24 Sep 2019 23:41
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0361-5413
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1353/hia.0.0008
Related URLs:https://www.swissbib.ch/Search/Results?lookfor=nationallicencecambridge101353hia00008 (Library Catalogue)

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