IN A SENSE, AFRICA'S VIKINGS
legacy on mainland of Africa
"Phantom Voyagers: Evidence of Indonesian Settlement in
Africa in Ancient Times"
By Robert Dick-Read.
be published by Thurlton Publishing in January 2005.]
Book: "The Phantom Voyagers" is about Indonesian
mariners who came to Africa and Madagascar long before Europeans knew
anything of Africa beyond the Sahara, and long before Arabs and
Shirazis sailed down the African coast in their dhows to found exotic
cities such as Kilwa, Lamu and Zanzibar.
know that many years ago Indonesian mariners peopled the island of
we do not know with certainty who these Indonesians were, where they
came from, or even why they came.
this book makes clear is that, though they left no written records,
the Indonesian legacy on the mainland of Africa is far greater than
beneath the surface of the Africa we know today, the footprints and
fingerprints of those phantom voyagers are legion.
is "The Phantom Voyagers" important ?
the History of Britain had been written without any mention of the
Vikings we would have a grossly distorted picture of the truth.
aspects of the Britain's ancient culture introduced by Scandinavians
would have been incorrectly attributed to 'British genius'.
Indonesian voyagers were, in a sense, Africa's Vikings.
brought with them important new plants, music, arts, technologies,
diseases, methods of divination, and other lasting facets of culture
that subsequently became absorbed into the African way of life.
would be fair to say that without the input of Indonesians in ancient
times, sub-Saharan Africa would be a very different place today.
is doubtful, for instance, whether we would have such marvellous
African icons as The
Great Zimbabwe, or the famous bronzes of Benin, or whether Zanzibar
and Tanzania would have been so named.
do the 'experts' say ?
reasons best known to themselves (because detailed proof is illusive
?) the influence of Indonesians in Africa is a subject that academics
have studiously avoided, and thus tend to greet with scepticism.
views expressed in "The Phantom Voyagers" will therefore fly
in the face of established African history teaching.
early drafts of the manuscript of "The Phantom Voyagers"
have met with the approval of two authoritative historians: Dr Roland
Oliver, Emeritus Professor of African History, School of Oriental and
African Studies, and founder
of 'The Journal of African History', wrote:
is just to say that I have spent three very interesting days reading
your book ...
can see that in Part One you have to range pretty widely over the
South-East Asian seascape in order to establish the most likely
origins of your Phantom Voyagers, and I found this section of the book
quite enthralling ...
all good wishes for the eventual success of your work, which I am
convinced could reach and interest a wide public".
Mervyn Brown, ex-British Ambassador to Madagascar, and High
Commissioner to Nigeria, author
of "Madagascar Rediscovered", and "A History of
I found it a fascinating read and a most impressive work of
scholarship, based on a wide range of sources and a lifetime of travel
and study of the art and culture of many African and other countries.
learned a great deal, especially about the Indonesian links with
the Author: In 1959, while studying for a diploma in
anthropology in England, Robert Dick-Read participated in a major
seminar on "Indonesia and Africa" organised by Profs. Roland
Oliver and John Fage at London's School of Oriental and African
were inconclusive, but - convinced that Indonesian penetration of
Africa had once been far greater than was generally realised - the
author continued his researches privately.
Dick-Read's interest in African culture dates back to his first visit
to South Africa, where Zulu design and Chopi music left strong
he became more deeply involved in the world of African arts and
crafts, at first commercially, then later setting up a museum for the
Nigerian government in Bamenda (now in the Republic of Cameroon), and
making educational films in the Sudan and Egypt.
1964 he published a travel book - "Sanamu: Adventures in Search
of African Art" (Rupert Hart Davis in London: Duttons in the
USA), relating his travels through many parts of Africa.
also made two television films in Ethiopia for David Attenborough's
"Adventure" series in the early 1960's.
1963 he married and decamped to the British Virgin Islands where he
and his family lived for 25 years before returning to England early in
"The Phantom Voyagers: Evidence of Indonesian Settlement in
Africa in Ancient Times." By: Robert Dick-Read ISBN:
Publishing. 5 St James Villas. Winchester. SO23 9SN.