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MLUNGU is a term widely used in south-east Africa to describe a white person and some of the lovely figurative pieces finely presented in this book are, as the authors describe them, the “European role players of the time, such as the leaders, explorers, soldiers, missionaries, traders, colonial officials, teachers and lawmakers”.

To accentuate these portrayals the sculptures often use objects closely associated with Europeans – chairs, padlocks, hats, bicycles, pipes, pith helmets and, of course, guns and most were made expressly to be sold to the Europeans they both feared and admired – which feelings show in some of these exquisite pieces.

The caricature element is right there too as in the lightwood carving using an adze and a knife c.1920-1940, Four European figures seated at dinner, by Thomas Ona Odulate of Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria. Ona considered his figures to be naturalistically carved and rejected the suggestion that he caricatured Europeans. The vacuous expressions on the diners’ faces would probably say otherwise. Other sculptures, the most haunting examples of this native art, are of African men and women from a specific region and all are carved from ivory and wood (aside from a few bronzes).

A worthy book for all involved with African art, especially given the time frame, after which mass tourism and the independence of African states saw a dramatic shift in style and subjects in the genre right across Africa.