African Economic History and Its Planning Potential: An Investigation of Sources
Terrence J. Lamb
Economic history of colonial and postindependence Africa would appear to be a potentially valuable source of documentary and oral historic evidence to sustain assertions made regarding the nature of indigenous knowledge for sustainable growth. The approach and subject matter focus of African economic history over the past quarter century has been the result of others' quality research, not necessarily that of historians. Whatever the indigenous knowledge that was researched, referenced, and found adequate and valuable remained the provenance of other disciplines ( McCann 1991: 507-9; Richards 1983). How the concept of African agricultural history has been described essentially is being developed by recent assessments as seen by Berry ( 1984, 1993) and Richards ( 1983).
This chapter looks at agricultural development policies as characterized in historical literature and contemporary issues literature. How the use of history has or has not been reflected or present in those policies is also a theme and consideration that impacts not only the historical literature but also relevance to current economic development and planning policies. Particular to such a study is how references to indigenous or traditional knowledge were found important and were deliberately or inadvertently treated as traditional agricultural practices. The use of indigenous agricultural knowledge appearing in articles and books in recent years serves as the source of this assessment. Analysis should be based not only on the description of historical events or those referenced in the reviewed articles but also on an attempt to understand the historical perspective of the writer of the particular themes being expressed.
Some believe that for economies to become sustainable and productive, the issues that they confront can be understood, in part, through a