DB -- Africa

Das Afrika-Lexikon: ein Kontinent in 1000 Stichwörtern [The Africa Dictionary: A Continent in One Thousand Key Words]. Ed. Jacob E. Mabe and Till Förster. Special ed. Wuppertal: Hammer; Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler, 2004. 719 p. ill. 23 cm. ISBN 3-7795-0020-5 (Hammer); ISBN 3-476-02046-0 (Metzler): EUR 29.95 [05-1-214]

Kleines Afrika-Lexikon: Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur [Concise Africa Dictionary: Politics, Economics, Culture]. Ed. Rolf Hofmeier and Andreas Mehler. München: Beck, 2004. 359 p. 19 cm. (Beck’sche Reihe, 1569). ISBN 3-406-51071-X: EUR 14.90 [05-1-215]

The Afrika-Lexikon (AL) appeared in 2001, accompanied by a smaller Das kleine Afrika-Lexikon (KAL, also edited by Jacob E. Mabe), which was an extract of the AL in the areas of politics, society, and economics. The same topics make up the content of the present Kleines Afrika-Lexikon (KAL), which was compiled by 56 authors, the majority of them researchers at the Institute for the Study of Africa in Hamburg. The most conspicuous difference between the two works is that the latter limits itself to the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa only, while the former covers the entire continent. Neither dictionary includes person entries, although the KAL has an index of important people (almost all of them 20th-century politicians) with the dates of their birth and career activity.

At the core of both dictionaries are articles about the states of Africa and surrounding island territories. The articles contained in the AL are more thorough, broader in content, and thematically arranged under the following headings: Nature, History/Politics, Population and Society, Economy, Literature, Music, and Art. The headings of the articles in the KAL include information about the geographical area, the number of inhabitants, the capital, the state language, life expectancy, writing systems, the ranking according to the Human Development Index, currency (and its equivalent in Euros), per-capita income, purchasing power, and the overall national product. The headings in the AL also list the rate of population growth, the percentage of urban population, the date of independence, the form of government, parties, the national debt, the ratio of development aid to the gross domestic product, the number of adults infected with HIV, life expectancy by gender, the primary education rate, the official language, and the linguae francae.

Both dictionaries contain bibliographies of a similar size, but the number and selection of articles differ sharply. The KAL limits itself to "the central concepts of society, politics, economics, developmental cooperation, international relations and culture," while the AL covers all these and places a much stronger emphasis on culture in particular.

In short, Das Afrika-Lexikon is a valuable contribution to the reference literature on Africa and, as such, is recommended for academic library reference collections, with the Kleines Afrika-Lexikon serving as a useful, circulating, companion volume. [sh/as]

Encyclopaedia aethiopica. Siegbert Uhlig. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 26 cm.

Vol. 1. A-C. 2003. xxx, 846 p. ill. ISBN 3-447-04746-1 (paper): EUR 78 [05-1-216]

Vol. 2. D-Ha. 2005. xxxviii, 1082 p. ill. ISBN 3-447-05238-4 (paper): EUR 78 [05-2-408]

This new English-language reference work is dedicated to the history and culture of the "Ethiopian world," encompassing the countries of the Horn of Africa and focusing in particular on the modern states of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti, as well as the adjacent parts of Somalia and Sudan. The project, which is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, is based at the University of Frankfurt and boasts a large international team of contributors.

Even though the organization of entries strongly suggests a dictionary, this is a bona-fide encyclopedia because of the comprehensiveness of the coverage. The complete work will consist of four volumes with a total of over 4,000 entries plus a supplemental index volume. The encyclopedia focuses on history, archeology, linguistics, literature, religion, the arts, anthropology, and the social sciences (with basic references to the hard sciences). The historical coverage extends from the early eras to the second half of the 20th century. The articles on geographical areas tend to have an open structure, which encourages the reader to explore numerous adjoining and cited entries to widen his understanding of the subject. The first volume contains transliteration and transcription tables. Articles are often supplied with black-and-white illustrations and maps, as well as with detailed reference lists at the end, which contain primary as well as secondary literature.

Volume one was rather slow to appear; publication of the Encyclopedia aethiopica is now proceeding at a steady pace. The second volume exceeds the first in both size and quality; the entries beginning with the letter E are of sufficient length, e.g., Economy; Education; Egypt, Elephants (with a whole column of references); Eritrea; Eschatology; and Ethiopia. There are also separate entries on Ethiopia—history and periodization; Ethiopian-Eritrean Federation; Ethiopian Orthodox Church. (See also RREA 11:180 for a bibliography of publications on the city of Harar.)

This in-depth encyclopedia distinguishes itself favorably from the other numerous reference publications in this area, however, researchers will have to wait several more years to see the finished work. [sh/as]

Harar: annotierte Bibliographie zum Schrifttum über die Stadt und den Islam in Südostäthiopien [Harar: Annotated Bibliography of Writings about the City and Islam in Southeast Ethiopia]. Ewald Wagner. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2003. xxiv, 747 p. 28 cm. (Aethiopistische Forschungen, 61). ISBN 3-447-04742-9: EUR 80 [05-1-217]

Harar: une cité musulmane d’Éthiopie = a Muslim city of Ethiopia. Ed. Philippe Revault and Serge Santelli. English translation by Jack Liesveld. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2004. 255 p. ill. 29 cm. (Architecture et société). ISBN 2-7068-1875-1: EUR 38

Ewald Wagner, an emeritus professor for Semitic and Islamic studies at the University of Giessen, also wrote numerous articles for the Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (see RREA 11:179). He was honored on his 65th birthday with a two-volume Festschrift (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1994).

Wagner’s bibliography strives for completeness, not only for monographs and essays (and newspaper articles), but also for reference to the city in monographs and articles from specialized and general encyclopedias. In all, this bibliography cites 2,449 titles of books published up through 2000, gathered into 59 subject groupings. Most citations have been personally verified by the editor; those that have not been are marked with an asterisk.

The bibliography covers Harar as a city and as a center of Islam in Southeast Ethiopia, and it covers all aspects of life, not just history and religion, but also the natural and applied sciences. Two chapters are devoted to Arthur Rimbaud, the most famous foreigner in Harar, who after a brief career as a poet, pursued commercial interests there starting in 1880. These included the weapons trade and possibly also the slave trade. Thirty-four editions of his correspondence from Harar are listed, along with 99 biographies of Rimbaud.

All the titles (except the unexamined ones) carry detailed annotations about the contents and list valuable references to further research. The work also contains two indexes, one to numerous variations on oriental names and the other a detailed subject index that also includes key words from titles and from the annotations. Also worth mentioning is Revault and Santelli’s French-English bibliography published a year after Wagner’s work. [sh/ga]

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Last update: March 2009 [BG]
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