top of page

Time for the World to Learn from Africa


It is a common notion that Africa has, and indeed ought to have, learned much from the west. This is not wrong; all cultures rightly learn from each other. But less is said of what there is to learn from Africa: from her stories, myths, music, proverbs, insights – and more. Here an acclaimed African scholar steps into the gap by uncovering for us something of the great legacy of African thought and practice in ways that will astonish many. Written with verve and authority and directed above all to students and sixth formers, this book will also delight and often surprise those who know something of Africa as well as those hitherto ignorant.


Ruth Finnegan OBE FBA is Emeritus Professor The Open University, Foreign Associate of the Finnish Literature Bureau, and International Fellow of the American Folklore Society. An anthropologist and multi-award author, she has published extensively, chiefly on Africa, musical practice, and English urban life. Recent books include How is Language?, Fiji's Music: Where Did It Come From?, her edited Entrancement: The Consciousness of Dreaming, Music and The World, and two prize-winning Africa-influenced novels Black Inked Pearl and Voyage of Pearl of the Seas.

'Ruth Finnegan's Time to learn from Africa provides a very welcome balance to the unending focus on what Africa could – most often wrongly couched as should – learn from the West in particular, and the rest of the world in general. Professor Finnegan is eminently qualified to lead the way and she does this brilliantly, drawing on her rich research experience in Africa, especially her highly-praised Oral Literature in Africa. I strongly recommend this insightful and well-crafted new book to university/college students and teachers as well as the general public.'
Professor Ladipo Adamolekun,  previously Dean, Faculty of Administration Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria. 

'This is a must-read for anyone interested in African development and learning/education in Africa. It directly addresses the North-South debate by bringing the South back into the centre. The West can indeed learn from Africa through a deep understanding of the complex and rich African linguistic and cultural heritage that presents itself in this book. A timely contribution.'

Professor Russell Kaschula, Professor of African Language Studies, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

'Ruth Finnegan artfully introduces a wide readership to the marvels of historic African story telling and poetic speech. Readers will be inspired by this little book of wonders.'

Professor Richard  Fardon, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

'I loved reading Time for the World to Learn From Africa by Ruth Finnegan and found it entertaining as well as educational. One important thing that Ruth manages to convey is that Africa is not simply one entity or one continent with a common, homogeneous culture but instead it is diverse, multi-ethnic, and varied in its own right with a rich history dating back thousands of years. My favorite part of the book was the section on language and I enjoyed the various fables and short stories presented throughout the text that capture the essence of African culture. Ruth writes in an engaging, candid style that makes reading the book a breeze. 


Reviewed By Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite FIVE STARS 

'I adored this book for its empowering presence, but also for the creative and educational possibilities it suggests. As an educator and creative practitioner myself, I really enjoyed the explanations of elements such as performance and music, how they are integral to the African culture and are valued in a different way than we see entertainment formats in the West. Linguistically, Ruth Finnegan's sensitivity to the many languages and dialects of Africa is well explained and would be easily understood by her target age range of students aged sixteen and above. I think that opening others up to culture in such an academic and accessible way is of huge benefit to the target group, but Time for the World to Learn from Africa would also make AN EXCELLENT ADDITION TO THE SHELVES OF ALL TEACHERS WANTING TO BRING NEW PERSPECTIVES INTO THEIR CLASSROOMS.

Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

bottom of page