Art: The Dark Gift

African art, admired in the U.S. and Europe as a rich creative tradition, has always had to fight for recognition in its own backyard. To the natives who practiced it, it was less art for art's sake than a deadly serious business of magic, medicine, fetish and religion. To most white colonizers. African art has always been a mumbo-jumbo sort of thing, "proof" that the native African lacked cultural instincts.

Last month an exhibition of African art opened at the Rhodes National Gallery in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, that gives a new perspective to the...

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