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African History

African History Book List

A 2007 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
Cover of 'The Forgotten Frontier'

The Forgotten Frontier
Colonist and Khoisan on the Cape's Northern Frontier in the 18th Century
By Nigel Penn

Traditionally, the Eastern Cape frontier of South Africa has been regarded as the preeminent contact zone between colonists and the Khoi—“Hottentots”—and San—“Bushmen.” But there was an earlier frontier in which the conflict between Dutch colonists and these indigenous herders and hunters was in many ways more decisive in its outcome, more brutal and violent in its manner, and just as significant in its effects on later South African history.

Cover of 'Themes in West Africa’s History'

Themes in West Africa’s History
Edited by Emmanuel Kwaku Akyeampong

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.

Cover of 'Black Poachers, White Hunters'

Black Poachers, White Hunters
A Social History of Hunting in Colonial Kenya
By Edward I. Steinhart

Black Poachers, White Hunters traces the history of hunting in Kenya in the colonial era, describing the British attempt to impose the practices and values of nineteenth-century European aristocratic hunts followed, ultimately, by claims over African wildlife by conservationists.

Cover of 'In Search of a Nation'

In Search of a Nation
Histories of Authority and Dissidence in Tanzania
Edited by Gregory H. Maddox and James L. Giblin

The double-sided nature of African nationalism—its capacity to inspire expressions of unity, and its tendency to narrow political debate—are explored by sixteen historians, focusing on the experience of Tanzania.

Cover of 'A History of the Excluded'

A History of the Excluded
Making Family a Refuge from State in Twentieth-Century Tanzania
By James L. Giblin

The twentieth-century history of Njombe, the Southern Highlands district of Tanzania, can aptly be summed up as exclusion within incorporation. Njombe was marginalized even as it was incorporated into the colonial economy. Njombe’s people came to see themselves as excluded from agricultural markets, access to medical services, schooling—in short, from all opportunity to escape the impoverishing trap of migrant labor.

Cover of 'Not White Enough, Not Black Enough'

Not White Enough, Not Black Enough
Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community
By Mohamed Adhikari

The concept of Colouredness—being neither white nor black—has been pivotal to the brand of racial thinking particular to South African society. The nature of Coloured identity and its heritage of oppression has always been a matter of intense political and ideological contestation. Not White Enough, Not Black Enough: Racial Identity in the South African Coloured Community is the first systematic study of Coloured identity, its history, and its relevance to South African national life.

Cover of 'On the Fringes of History'

On the Fringes of History
A Memoir
By Philip D. Curtin

In the 1950s, professional historians claiming to specialize in tropical Africa were no more than a handful. The teaching of world history was confined to high school courses, and even those were focused on European history, with a chapter added to account for the history of East and South Asia. The change over the ensuing decades was revolutionary. Philip D. Curtin was a leader among a new generation of historians that emerged after the Second World War.

Frederick Douglass Book Prize Finalist
Cover of 'Ouidah'

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.

Cover of 'Kola is God’s Gift'

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.

Cover of 'Dhows and the Colonial Economy of Zanzibar, 1860-1970'

Dhows and the Colonial Economy of Zanzibar, 1860-1970
By Erik Gilbert

Conventional history assumes that the rise of the steamship trade killed off the Indian Ocean dhow trade in the twentieth century. Erik Gilbert argues that the dhow economy played a major role in shaping the economic and social life of colonial Zanzibar. Dhows, and the regional trade they fostered, allowed a class of indigenous entrepreneurs to thrive in Zanzibar.

A Choice Significant University Press Titles for Undergraduates, 2005–2006 
Cover of 'The African AIDS Epidemic'

The African AIDS Epidemic
A History
By John Iliffe

This history of the African AIDS epidemic is a much-needed, accessibly written historical account of the most serious epidemiological catastrophe of modern times. The African AIDS Epidemic: A History answers President Thabo Mbeki’s provocative question as to why Africa has suffered this terrible epidemic. While Mbeki attributed the causes to poverty and exploitation, others have looked to distinctive sexual systems practiced in African cultures and communities.

Cover of 'African Underclass'

African Underclass
Urbanisation, Crime, and Colonial Order in Dar es Salaam
By Andrew Burton

African Underclass examines the social, political, and administrative repercussions of rapid urban growth in Dar es Salaam. The origins of an often coercive response to urbanization in postcolonial Tanzania are traced back to the colonial period. The British reacted to unanticipated urban growth by attempting to limit the process, though this failed to prevent a substantial increase in rates of urbanization.

Cover of 'We Are Fighting the World'

We Are Fighting the World
A History of the Marashea Gangs in South Africa, 1947–1999
By Gary Kynoch

Since the late 1940s, a violent African criminal society known as the Marashea has operated in and around South Africa’s gold mining areas. With thousands of members involved in drug smuggling, extortion, and kidnapping, the Marashea was more influential in the day-to-day lives of many black South Africans under apartheid than were agents of the state. These gangs remain active in South Africa.

Cover of 'Imperial Gullies'

Imperial Gullies
Soil Erosion and Conservation in Lesotho
By Kate B. Showers

Once the grain basket for South Africa, much of Lesotho has become a scarred and degraded landscape. The nation’s spectacular erosion and gullying have concerned environmentalists and conservationists for more than half a century. In Imperial Gullies: Soil Erosion and Conservation in Lesotho, Kate B. Showers documents the truth behind this devastation. Showers reconstructs the history of the landscape, beginning with a history of the soil.

Cover of 'African Genius'

African Genius
By Basil Davidson

The African Genius presents the ideas, social systems, religions, moral values, arts, and metaphysics of a range of African peoples, disputing the notion that Africa gained under colonialism by entering the modern world.