African Life and Customs is an essential collection of Edward Wilmot Blyden's articles that examines the socioeconomic structure of African society.
A native of St. Thomas, West Indies, Blyden (1832-1912) lived most of his life on the African continent. He was an accomplished educator, linguist, writer, and world traveler, who strongly defended the unique character of Africa and its people.
In African Life and Customs, Blyden examined the culture of "pure" Africans. Africans who haven't had much or an influence by European and Asiatic influences. He highlights the family as the basic unit in African society and polygamy as the foundation of African families. He described African social systems as cooperative; everyone worked for each other. No one went without work, food, or clothing.
Blyden challenged white racial theorists who held Africans were inferior and whose arguments supported their preconceived ideas. He assumed Africans to be "distinct" rather than inferior, and he analysed African culture within the context of African social experiences.
Blyden's views were seen as controversial by some during his time, today, upon reevaluation, his work is seen by many as an important attempt to perform a holistic analysis of African society. African Life and Customs is an impressive African-centered interpretation of African culture.
Review - "Beyond Excellent. This book taught that the African people were a wholely honest dealing people. There were no words for jail or prision, because the culture was not designed in a manner to produce criminals. With the European advancing on the West Coasts of Africa words started to enter the African languages for lock, jail and other means of capital punishment. It is European behavior to be a criminal and African Americans in particular have adopted European culture and destroyed themselves not knowing this foreign culture was repackaged as Thug Culture and now it is internalized by millions of African Youth. It is sad what European culture when adopted by Africans can be better than any nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon to destroy a people".
Published March 1st 1994.