Improvements to Microsoft Encarta Africana 2000 edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Anthony Appiah

by Dr. Molefi Kete Asante

Published 5/3/2000

Encarta Africana 200 is an improved version of the project undertaken by Professors Henry Louis Gates and Anthony Appiah to capture African American history and culture. Encarta Africana 2000 reflects substantive changes to content, design and format and represents a remarkable advance in conceptualizing the African and African American experience.

While I still find some areas that need attention, for example, the piece on Costa Rica that hangs out without any material reason to be in the Encarta Africana as it is written, I can say in all honesty that the Encarta Africana 2000 goes a long way toward providing a springboard for intellectual adventure. My comment about the Costa Rica piece is simply that there is no discussion of the Limonenses, the people who migrated from Jamaica to Costa Rica, producing the large African population in that country. Otherwise the piece on Costa Rica stands out as disconnected from the project. Quince Duncan is there, but linking him and the text on Costa Rica begs to be done. One comes away asking the same question I asked in the previous version, “If there is nothing more than a description of Costa Rica devoid of black people in the text then it should not be included.” But Costa Rica does have a strong black tradition and history.

In my judgement Encarta Africana 2000 is now a milestone that marks the beginning of the new millennium with fascinating facts and features about the African world. Nevertheless, it will still have to be revised many times.

African symbol