"Outstanding Work On African Tribe Is Republished",
a review by Carroll Quigley in The Washington Sunday Star,
January 6, 1963,
of a book:
THE LIFE OF A SOUTH AFRICAN TRIBE,
by Henri A. Junod.
New York: University Books, 1962
"Outstanding Work On African Tribe Is Republished"
THE LIFE OF A SOUTH AFRICAN TRIBE.
By Henri A. Junod.
2 volumes, boxed. University Books; $20.
This extraordinary book, first published in 1914 and revised in
1926, is now republished as one of the most valuable of the recent flood of
works on Africa.
The author, a Swiss missionary who had lived among the Thonga of
southeast Africa since 1889, sought to record the social and mental life of this
single tribe before it was destroyed by European influence. He succeeded
admirably because he had an unusual combination of talents such as have rarely
been focused on any native people.
With a broad background in linguistics, science, and anthropology,
fluent in their language, and moved by personal affection toward them, he was
determined to record their life completely honestly, however shocking some of it
was to his own moral and religious beliefs. Where he could not bring himself to
write the details in English, he put them into Latin (translated in this
The result is one of the most valuable studies we have of a single
African people before their culture was modified by European influence. Nor is
it merely descriptive. Junod did research in old documents and linguistic and
ethnological materials in a thoroughly up-to-date way. He found Portuguese
records of the tribe in the same area in the 16th century, used native words for
most objects or customs not familiar to Europeans, providing genealogies and
kinship terms in this way, and sought to evaluate their mental life and
abilities from linguistic analysis.
-- Carroll Quigley
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