Ohio Short Histories of Africa is a series of informative and concise guides, lively biographies, and succinct introductions to important topics in African history.

Praise for Ohio Short Histories of Africa Titles
“(It) is precisely written, accessible, eminently readable, and, as I have found out, can be effectively deployed as an effective teaching tool.” — Julie Parle, University of KwaZulu-Natal about Epidemics

“Authoritative, streamlined, and highly readable, this book deserves a wide readership.” — African Studies Quarterly review of The ANC Youth League

“This book is sure to become required reading for students and scholars of youth politics in South Africa and the continent more widely.” — Journal of African History review of The Idea of the ANC

“The book, as a short history rather than an in-depth examination of a person or a movement, will be most useful for students….” — Library Journal review of Steve Biko


In 1995, South Africa’s new government set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a lynchpin of the country’s journey forward from apartheid. In contrast to the Nuremberg Trials and other retributive responses to atrocities, the TRC’s emphasis on reconciliation marked a restorative approach to addressing human rights violations and their legacies. The hearings, headed by Bishop Desmond Tutu, began in spring of 1996.



Former South African president Thabo Mbeki is a complex figure. He was a committed young Marxist who, while in power, embraced conservative economic policies and protected white corporate interests; a rational and dispassionate thinker who was particularly sensitive to criticism and dissent; and a champion of African self-reliance who relied excessively on foreign capital. As a key liberation leader in exile, he was instrumental in the ANC’s antiapartheid struggle.


With vision, hard-nosed judgment, and biting humor, Julius Nyerere confronted the challenges of nation building in modern Africa. Constructing Tanzania out of a controversial Cold War union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Nyerere emerged as one of independent Africa’s most influential leaders. He pursued his own brand of African socialism, called Ujamaa, with unquestioned integrity, and saw it profoundly influence movements to end white minority rule in Southern Africa.


South Sudan · A New History for a New Nation

By Douglas H. Johnson

Africa’s newest nation has a long history. Often considered remote and isolated from the rest of Africa, and usually associated with the violence of slavery and civil war, South Sudan has been an arena for a complex mixing of peoples, languages, and beliefs. The nation’s diversity is both its strength and a challenge as its people attempt to overcome the legacy of decades of war to build a new economic, political, and national future.


In this concise biography, Scully shows us how the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner and two-time Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaks to many of the key themes of the twenty-first century. Among these are the growing power of women in the arenas of international politics and human rights; the ravaging civil wars of the post–Cold War era in which sexual violence is used as a weapon; and the challenges of transitional justice in building postconflict societies.


A penetrating, accessible portrait of the activist whose execution galvanized the world. Hanged by the Nigerian government on November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa became a martyr for the Ogoni people and for human rights activists, as well as a symbol of modern Africans’ struggle against military dictatorship, corporate power, and environmental exploitation.


Frantz Fanon · Toward a Revolutionary Humanism

By Christopher J. Lee

A timely and original short biography reintroducing Fanon for a new generation of readers. Written with clarity and passion, Christopher J. Lee’s account argues for the pragmatic idealism of Frantz Fanon and his continued importance today.
















Spear of the Nation: Umkhonto weSizwe · South Africa’s Liberation Army, 1960s–1990s

By Janet Cherry

Umkhonto weSizwe, Spear of the Nation, was arguably the last of the great liberation armies of the twentieth century—but it never got to “march triumphant into Pretoria.” MK—as it was known—was the armed wing of the African National Congress, South Africa’s liberation movement, that challenged the South African apartheid government.


Epidemics · The Story of South Africa’s Five Most Lethal Human Diseases

By Howard Phillips

This is the first history of epidemics in South Africa, lethal episodes that shaped this society over three centuries. Focusing on five devastating diseases between 1713 and today—smallpox, bubonic plague, “Spanish influenza,” polio, and HIV/AIDS—the book probes their origins, their catastrophic courses, and their consequences.