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More African history

Good books on African history are rare finds. Here are two notable ones:

THE AFRICAN EXPERIENCE: Major Themes in African History From Earliest Times to the Present, by Roland Oliver, HarperCollins, $23.

A professor of African history at the University of London, Oliver approaches Africa not with a colonizer's mentality but as an objective historian. This outstanding albeit rather academically written history of the continent covers the gamut from archaeological finds to the most recent political developments, including last year's lifting of trade sanctions against South Africa. Of particular interest is Oliver's opening chapter on Africa as "the scene of man's acquisition of his deepest genetic characteristics," the scene, that is, of the very origins of man.

AFRICA IN HISTORY, by Basil Davidson, Macmillan, $14.95

Basil Davidson, who was one of the first British historians to abandon a Eurocentric approach to Africa, originally published this highly readable history of the continent in 1966. This fourth revision is updated and expanded to include the independence of Namibia and the dramatic changes in South Africa.

_ Margo Hammond