The most important development in African historiography since 1970 is almost surely the growing awareness that oral tradition alone is insufficient as a source for reconstructing the past beyond about 1750. Henceforth historians will be increasingly obliged to turn to other bodies of data, at least if they wish to avoid writing history which, in Bradbury's words, is no more than “the rationalization of myth.” Despite pleas by, among others, Bradbury, Vansina, and Lewis as long ago as a decade or more, historians have thus far shown little sign of incorporating ethnographic data into then-catalog of sources, or comparative ethnography into their methodological tool-kit. One reason for this reluctance (at least among English language Africanists of our generation) may be a vague acquaintance with the serious abuses which European Africanists— especially those associated with the Vienna ‘culture-historical school’—committed by stretching ethnographic data to fit grand, but spurious, global schemes of human evolution. Clearly, though, earlier abuses in no way justify our refusing now to exploit a body of data we badly need, provided we examine it with appropriate care and modesty. We must admit at the outset that ethnographic comparisons for historical purposes on a continental scale will be impossible until a good many regional studies are available. In turn, such regional studies will normally be limited to selected aspects of related culture, and not to cultures as holistic units. This means that points of articulation between regional studies may well be difficult to identify.