Professor Hair's aim here has been to explore the European written record for the history of Africa south of the Sahara. This effectively began with the arrival of the Portuguese on the Guinea coast and many of these articles focus on Sierra Leone; others extend the enquiry to southern Africa. One particular theme is the use of early vocabularies of African languages as a source for the history of local populations. At the same time, these studies help illuminate the European reaction to the peoples and the places they encountered.
Contents: Introduction; Discovery and discoveries: the Portuguese in Guinea, 1444-1650; Protestants as pirates, slavers and proto-missionaries: Sierra Leone 1568 and 1582; The abortive Portuguese settlement of Sierra Leone, 1570-1625; Hamlet in an Afro-Portuguese setting: new perspectives on Sierra Leone in 1607; The spelling and connotation of the Toponym 'Sierra Leone' since 1461; The use of African languages in Afro-European contacts in Guinea 1440-1560; Ethnolinguistic continuity on the Guinea coast; An ethnolinguistic inventory of the Upper Guinea coast before 1700; An ethnolinguistic inventory of the Lower Guinea coast before 1700; Portuguese contacts with the Bantu languages of the Transkei, Natal and Southern Mozambique 1497-1650; Milho, Meixoeira and other foodstuffs of the Sofala Garrison, 1505-1525; Index.