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We regard this book as the first stage of a wider inquiry into the nature and development of African political systems. In addition to further research into native political systems, such an inquiry would include the study of the development of these systems under the influence of European rule. This problem is not only sociologically important, it is of pressing importance to the peoples of Africa and to those who are responsible for governing them.
We hope this book will be of interest and of use to those who have the task of administering African peoples. The anthropologist's duty is to present the facts and theory of native social organization as he sees them. It is no light duty; for a thorough training and laborious field investigations are indispensable to its proper performance. Whether or not an anthropologist's findings can be utilized in the practical tasks of administration must be left to the decision of administrators themselves.
We are grateful to the International African Institute for sponsoring the publication of this book. Though several of the contributors carried out their field research as Fellows of the Institute, it is in no way responsible for any points of view or opinions expressed in the book. We have to thank Professor Radcliffe-Brown for much help and advice, as well as for the Preface which he has kindly contributed.