In the Realms of Gold

Pioneering in African History

Roland Oliver



In the Realms of Gold is Oliver's account of his life and work. He writes in a deft and lively style about the circumstances of his early life that shaped his education and outlook: his childhood on a river houseboat in Kashmir, the influential teachers and friends met at Stowe and Cambridge, and his service in World War II as a cryptographer in British intelligence, where he met his first wife, Caroline Linehan. His interest in church history while at Cambridge led him to study the historical effects of Christian missionaries in Africa, and thus his career began. The core of the book is Oliver's account of his research travels throughout tropical Africa from the 1940s to the 1980s; his efforts to train and foster African graduate students to teach in African universities; his role in establishing conferences and journals to bring together the work of historians and archaeologists from Europe and Africa; his encounters with political and religious leaders, scholars, soldiers, and storytellers; and the political and economic upheavals of the continent that he witnessed.


[Oliver's] long and active academic life does illuminate relationships within the early generations of professional historians. - Philip Zachernuk, Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne des EĢtudes Africaines


Roland Anthony Oliver was an Indian-born English academic and Emeritus Professor of African history at the University of London. He died in 2014.