Mathematics in African History and Cultures: An Annotated Bibliography

Article excerpt

Mathematics in African History and Cultures: An annotated bibliography; by Paulus Gerdes and Ahmed Djebbar. [Bellville, SA]: African Mathematical Union, 2004. 242 pp. No ISBN number printed in the text.

The link between mathematics, African history and culture is unfamiliar. To highlight the connections, the authors of this annotated bibliography summarise the extent and context of research in this overarching field. The focus is not just on pure mathematics, but also on everyday cultural activities such as games and basket weaving.

The African Mathematical Union created the Commission on the History of Mathematics in Africa (AMUCHMA) in 1986. The aim has been "to stimulate research and to collect and disseminate as much information as possible about the history of mathematics in Africa" (pp vi). Since then, twenty -eight issues of the AMUCHMA newsletter have been published in addition to many presentations of papers at conferences and seminars. The annotated bibliography was presented to the 6th Pan-African Congress of Mathematicians in Tunisia in December 2004.

The introduction to the bibliography indicates how the information is organised, how the bibliographic entries are sequenced and what reference codes are used. It contains over 1000 references from all parts of Africa and includes references in Arabic, French, English and Portuguese.

The references are presented in different ways. The full listing is by author and year of publication in accordance with the bibliographic sequence and reference coding. …