This series, produced by publishers on three continents, brings together significant international scholarly work on Western Africa. Building on the successful model of the James Currey/Ohio University Press Eastern African Studies series, this series covers the western half of the continent from the Maghreb to the Congo. Multidisciplinary in character, the series is intended to circulate new work on the region throughout the world. In collaboration with a growing network of West African publishers and book distributors, the series includes work in anthropology, oral literature, politics, development, and in social and political history.

Metaphor and the Slave Trade provides compelling evidence of the hidden but unmistakable traces of the transatlantic slave trade that persist in West African discourse. Through an examination of metaphors that describe the trauma, loss, and suffering associated with the commerce in human lives, this book shows how the horrors of slavery are communicated from generation to generation.


In September 1958, Guinea claimed its independence, rejecting a constitution that would have relegated it to junior partnership in the French Community. In all the French empire, Guinea was the only territory to vote “No.” Orchestrating the “No” vote was the Guinean branch of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (RDA), an alliance of political parties with affiliates in French West and Equatorial Africa and the United Nations trusts of Togo and Cameroon.


There has long been a need for a new textbook on West Africa’s history. In Themes in West Africa’s History, editor Emmanuel Kwaku Akyeampong and his contributors meet this need, examining key themes in West Africa's prehistory to the present through the lenses of their different disciplines. The contents of the book comprise an introduction and thirteen chapters divided into three parts.


Ouidah · The Social History of a West African Slaving Port, 1727–1892

By Robin Law

Ouidah, an African town in the Republic of Benin, was the principal precolonial commercial center of its region and the second-most-important town of the Dahomey kingdom. It served as a major outlet for the transatlantic slave trade. Between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries, Ouidah was the most important embarkation point for slaves in the region of West Africa known to outsiders as the Slave Coast.


Kola is God’s Gift · Agricultural Production, Export Initiatives, and the Kola Industry in Asante and the Gold Coast, c. 1920–1950

By Edmund Abaka

Kola is a “food-drug”—like coffee, tea, coca, and tobacco—a substance considered neither food nor medicine, but used to induce “flights of fancy.” It is incorporated into rites of passage and ceremonies to cement treaties and contracts; its medicinal properties were first recognized outside Africa in the twelfth century; and it is a legal and popular stimulant among West African Muslims.


Slavery and Reform in West Africa · Toward Emancipation in Nineteenth-Century Senegal and the Gold Coast

By Trevor R. Getz

A series of transformations, reforms, and attempted abolitions of slavery form a core narrative of nineteenth-century coastal West Africa. As the region's role in Atlantic commercial networks underwent a gradual transition from principally that of slave exporter to producer of “legitimate goods” and dependent markets, institutions of slavery became battlegrounds in which European abolitionism, pragmatic colonialism, and indigenous agency clashed.


‘Civil Disorder is the Disease of Ibadan’ · Chieftaincy and Civic Culture in a Yoruba City

By Ruth Watson

Civil Disorder Is the Disease of the Ibadan is a study of chieftaincy and political culture in Ibadan, the most populous city in Britain’s largest West African colony, Nigeria. Examining the period between 1829 and 1939, it shows how and why the processes through which Ibadan was made into a civic community shifted from the battlefield to a discursive field.


Eurafricans in Western Africa · Commerce, Social Status, Gender, and Religious Observance from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century

By George E. Brooks

Eurafricans in Western Africa traces the rich social and commercial history of western Africa. The most comprehensive study to date, it begins prior to the sixteenth century when huge profits made by middlemen on trade in North African slaves, salt, gold, pepper, and numerous other commodities prompted Portuguese reconnaissance voyages along the coast of western Africa.


The first integrated history of the Ghana-Togo borderlands, Smugglers, Secessionists, and Loyal Citizens on the Ghana-Togo Frontier challenges the conventional wisdom that the current border is an arbitrary European construct, resisted by Ewe irredentism. Paul Nugent contends that whatever the origins of partition, border peoples quickly became knowing and active participants in the shaping of this international boundary.


Lineages of State Fragility · Rural Civil Society in Guinea-Bissau

By Joshua B. Forrest

Lineages of State Fragility argues that despite European influences, the contemporary fragility of African states can be fully appreciated only by examining the indigenous social context in which these states evolved. Focusing on Guinea-Bissau, Forrest exposes the emergence of a strong and adaptable “rural civil society” that can be traced back to precolonial times.


Fighting the Slave Trade · West African Strategies

Edited by Sylviane A. Diouf

While most studies of the slave trade focus on the volume of captives and on their ethnic origins, the question of how the Africans organized their familial and communal lives to resist and assail it has not received adequate attention. But our picture of the slave trade is incomplete without an examination of the ways in which men and women responded to the threat and reality of enslavement and deportation.


Between the Sea and the Lagoon · An Eco-social History of the Anlo of Southeastern Ghana c. 1850 to Recent Times

By Emmanuel Kwaku Akyeampong

This study offers a “social interpretation of environmental process” for the coastal lowlands of southeastern Ghana. The Anlo-Ewe, sometimes hailed as the quintessential sea fishermen of the West African coast, are a previously non-maritime people who developed a maritime tradition. As a fishing community the Anlo have a strong attachment to their land. In the twentieth century coastal erosion has brought about a collapse of the balance between nature and culture.


West African Challenge to Empire · Culture and History in the Volta-Bani Anticolonial War

By Mahir Şaul and Patrick Royer

West African Challenge to Empire examines the anticolonial war in the Volta and Bani region in 1915–16. It was the largest challenge that the French ever faced in their West African colonial empire, and one of the largest armed oppositions to colonialism anywhere in Africa. How such a movement could be organized in the face of European technological superiority despite the fact that this region is generally described as having consisted of rival villages and descent groups is a puzzle.


Ghanaian Popular Fiction · 'Thrilling Discoveries in Conjugal Life' and Other Tales

By Stephanie Newell

This is a study of the ‘unofficial’ side of African fiction—the largely undocumented writing, publishing, and reading of pamphlets and paperbacks—which exists outside the grid of mass production. Stephanie Newell examines the popular fiction of Ghana produced since the 1930s, analyzing the distinctive ways in which narrative forms are borrowed and regenerated by authors and readers.


Paths of Accommodation · Muslim Societies and French Colonial Authorities in Senegal and Mauritania, 1880–1920

By David Robinson

Between 1880 and 1920, Muslim Sufi orders became pillars of the colonial regimes and economies of Senegal and Mauritania. In Paths of Accommodation, David Robinson examines the ways in which the leaders of the orders negotiated relations with the Federation of French West Africa in order to preserve autonomy within the religious, social, and economic realms while abandoning the political sphere to their non-Muslim rulers.


Nkrumah & the Chiefs · The Politics of Chieftaincy in Ghana, 1951–1960

By Richard Rathbone

Kwame Nkrumah, who won independence for Ghana in 1957, was the first African statesman to achieve world recognition. Nkrumah and his movement also brought about the end of independent chieftaincy—one of the most fundamental changes in the history of Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah's Convention Peoples' Party was committed not only to the rapid termination of British colonial rule but also to the elimination of chiefly power.


El Dorado in West Africa · The Gold Mining Frontier, African Labor, and Colonial Capitalism

By Raymond E. Dumett

The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed some of the greatest gold mining migrations in history when dreams of bonanza lured thousands of prospectors and diggers to the far corners of the earth—including the Gold Coast of West Africa. El Dorado in West Africa explores the first modern gold rush of Ghana in all of its dimensions—land, labor, capital, traditional African mining, technology, transport, management, the clash of cultures, and colonial rule.


Willing Migrants · Soninke Labor Diasporas, 1848–1960

By François Manchuelle

The first major study of the Soninke labor migration within Africa and to France, Willing Migrants is based upon critical analysis of French precolonial and colonial records and oral interviews with Soninke migrants.