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
“I am a huge fan of Ohio University Press’s Ohio Short Histories of Africa series. I use them to teach my introductory-level African politics students about oppression, resistance, liberation and corruption, and I recommend the books to anyone who asks as an affordable and accessible introduction to a wide range of topics in African studies.” —Laura Seay, The Washington Post

“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

Advisory Board:
Sean Jacobs (The New School),
Daniel Magaziner (Yale University),
Michelle R. Moyd (Indiana University), and
Carina E. Ray. (Brandeis University)

The publication of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1958) is heralded as the inaugural moment of modern African fiction, and the book remains the most widely read African novel of all time. Translated into dozens of languages, it has sold more than twelve million copies, and has become a canonical reading in schools the world over.


From its small-time origins in the early 2000s to its transformation into one of the world’s most-recognized terrorist groups, this short book tells the story of Boko Haram’s bloody, decade-long war in northeastern Nigeria.



In an excellent addition to the Ohio Short Histories of Africa series, Robert Trent Vinson recovers the important but largely forgotten story of Albert Luthuli, Africa’s first Nobel Peace Prize winner and president of the African National Congress from 1952 to 1967. One of the most respected African leaders, Luthuli linked South African antiapartheid politics with other movements, becoming South Africa’s leading advocate of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent civil disobedience techniques.


Onslow and Plaut explain Mugabe’s formative experiences as a child and young man; his role as an admired Afro-nationalist leader in the struggle against white settler rule; and his evolution into a political manipulator and survivalist. Finally, they address the coup that forced his resignation after thirty-seven years in power.


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.



In this concise biography, ideally suited for the classroom, Adekeye Adebajo seeks to illuminate former South African president Thabo Mbeki’s contradictions and situate him in a pan-African pantheon.


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.


This omnibus edition brings together concise and up-to-date biographies of Steve Biko, Emperor Haile Selassie, Patrice Lumumba, and Thomas Sankara. African Leaders of the Twentieth Century will complement courses in history and political science and serve as a useful collection for the general reader. Steve Biko, by Lindy Wilson Steve Biko inspired a generation of black South Africans to claim their true identity and refuse to be a part of their own oppression.


The Soweto uprising was a true turning point in South Africa’s history. Even to contemporaries, it seemed to mark the beginning of the end of apartheid. This compelling book examines both the underlying causes and the immediate factors that led to this watershed event. It looks at the crucial roles of Black Consciousness ideology and nascent school-based organizations in shaping the character and form of the revolt.