The West and the Rest of Us

by Chinweizu. Random House, $15.00. Nigerian by birth, poet and playwright by profession, and equipped with an American education in economies, Mr. Chinweizu begins his comprehensive study of Africa past and present “by noting that this is not a work of protest.” Since a serious consideration of Africa from an indigenous point of view cannot fail to be, at least by implication, a protest, this deadpan assertion should be taken as merely the first example of the ironic wit which crackles through Mr. Chinweizu’s scholarship. It is true that he is not simply anti-European. He is quite as interested in the reasons for African submission to European economic and political pressure as in the motives for the exertion of that pressure, because, he argues. African nations cannot achieve prosperous independence today without an understanding of all the social and economic patterns which in the past deprived them of it, some of these patterns being of Africa’s own making. The book is impassioned, honest, testy, moving, provocative, and altogether remarkable. Maps, index.