ISJ Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

International Socialism, Winter 1962


David Cairns

West Africa


From International Socialism, No.11, Winter 1962, p.31.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Through African Doors
Janheinz Jahn
Faber. 30s.

Of its kind this is a good book. Without the aid of collation, statistics or operational concepts Herr Jahn presents an insight into modern Nigeria and some of the adjacent countries which is at once informative and, more particularly, stimulating. The hypocrisy of the whites in their relationships with the African and the pandering of certain sections of the indigenous population to European cultural norms is well depicted, in the framework of a consistent and genuine understanding of the African cultural heritage. (Although one might accuse Herr Jahn of a slight German bias in his discussion of African-European relationships.)

Travelling about the countryside on the African’s own terms, living without self-consciousness as the average African does in Nigeria, Janheinz Jahn has been able to find out a lot more than many far more systematic anthropological studies. What he has gleaned from his experiences goes a long way in helping us to understand and predict the evolution of African social institutions, particularly with regard to the place of indigenous religion in African society. The imposition, or even expectation of adoption, of Christian forms of religion in however a humanitarian form, Western forms of education and language and, above all, Western political institutions is shown to be as dangerous as many of us know already; but here the argument is given new substance and new texture.

This is not a socialist book and economic considerations are only marginal. Many more questions are raised than even partially answered, but this is not an annoying limitation.

Top of page

ISJ Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 19 March 2010