Volume I deals with the African prehistory and its methodology. The early part of the volume assesses the importance attached by African societies to their past and the growth and development in African historiography, together with a general outline of sources and techniques.
This is followed by accounts of the primary literary sources, the oral and living traditions and African archaeology and its techniques. Chapters cover linguistics and migrations, historical geography and a discussion of the chronological framework that has been adopted.
The second half of the volume deals specifically with the earliest man and the prehistory of Africa according to geographical areas: North, South, East, West and Central with the Nile Valley singled out in particular. Chapters are devoted to prehistoric art, agricultural techniques and the development of metallurgy.