The University of Wisconsin Press

African Studies / Ethnic Studies / History


The Children of Woot
A History of the Kuba Peoples
Jan Vansina

This work, the culmination of Jan Vansina’s twenty-five years of study of the Kuba people, sets forth the remarkable history of the Kuba while offering groundbreaking techniques in the analysis of oral history. As such, it will be of significant value not only to Africanists but to all historians and anthropologists whose sphere of research includes non-literate societies.


After setting forth what the Kuba tell about their past, Vansina analyzes these data and confronts them with linguistic data to reconstitute the political, economic, social, religious, and artistic history of the culture. He also draws close attention to the selection process in oral tradition and to the problems raised when one attempts to place Kuba history in a comparative perspective. The result is the first full scholarly history of this especially important African society, and a veritable blueprint for the productive study of non-literate cultures in any part of the world.


Jan Vansina, now emeritus, held the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professorship and the Vilas Professorship in History and Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. His many books include his memoir Living with Africa, as well as Oral Tradition as History, Antecedents to Modern Rwanda, Kingdoms of the Savanna,and Paths in the Rainforests, all published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Considered one of the founders of the academic field of African studies, he was the second scholar chosen as "Distinguished Africanist" by the African Studies Association of the United States.

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June 1978
LC: 77-091061 DT
400 pp.   7 illus.

The cloth edition is out of print

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