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The Cambridge History of Africa
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    Alexander, J. 2001. Islam, archaeology and slavery in Africa. World Archaeology, Vol. 33, Issue. 1, p. 44.

    Prins, Herbert H.T. 1992. The Pastoral Road to Extinction: Competition Between Wildlife and Traditional Pastoralism in East Africa. Environmental Conservation, Vol. 19, Issue. 02, p. 117.

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Book description

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Africa were a period of transition, with the trade in slaves and firearms on the Atlantic coast laying some of the foundations for European colonialism. But for most of the continent, external forces were still of marginal significance. African initiative remained supreme and produced a rich variety of political, social and intellectual innovations. In eight regional chapters the contributors to this volume, all established experts in their field, bring together for the first time these developments as they affected the whole of Africa. A concluding chapter surveys Africa in Europe and the Americas during this period.


‘The virtues to the book are many: its writers have synthesised and summarized a vast amount of material and organised it into a coherent whole. Scholars and students acquainted with a single small area of Africa will now be able to place this in perspective by reference to what was occuring elsewhere in the continent. The book has an excellent index and it is well printed on good paper. In short, it is all that one might expect a Cambridge history to be.’

Source: New Society

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  • 1 - Egypt, the Funj and Darfur
    pp 14-57
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    Egypt, although geographically situated in Africa, was at the beginning of the sixteenth century essentially a part of the Near East by virtue of its recent history, its culture and its closest political connections. The revival of Mamluk power was connected with changes in the fiscal system of Ottoman Egypt. Upper Egypt was the area of arrival of trading caravans from the Nilotic Sudan and Darfur. The Sennar caravans had certainly been operating since the emergence of the Funj sultanate early in the sixteenth century, but by the end of the eighteenth century they were less important than the Darfur caravans. The early sixteenth century, which witnessed in Egypt the fall of the Mamluk sultanate and the imposition of Ottoman rule, was a time of even more far-reaching changes in the Nilotic Sudan. At the time of the Turco-Egyptian invasion, then, the Nilotic Sudan and Darfur were genuinely part of the Islamic world.
  • 2 - The central Sahara and Sudan
    pp 58-141
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    The primary problem of the central Sudan during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was that of consolidation, of state and of society. The expansion of Islam was also repeated again and again, on the smaller stages of outlying states, such as Mandara, Bagirmi and Wadai. Taxation affected the movement of population, which in turn determined the basic patterns of social and political consolidation. Foreign commerce, particularly across the Sahara, was in every period of great importance. The domestic demand for slaves, within the central Sahara and Sudan, may well have been even more of a stimulus to slave raiding than was the trans-Saharan trade. Besides the considerable military contribution of camel-owning nomads, and the imposing religious prestige of some nomadic Muslims, nomads were an integral part of the economy. Trans-Saharan connections, between the Maghrib al-Adnā and the central Sudan, were maintained primarily for purposes of trade and pilgrimage. Some clerics were also involved in trade with Wadai.
  • 3 - North-West Africa: from the Maghrib to the fringes of the forest
    pp 142-222
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    In modern African historiography the emergence of empires and the enlargement of the scale of political organization are regarded as among the greatest achievements of African history. For centuries the central Maghrib, the modern Algeria, had been disputed and divided between the more powerful centres of Ifrīqiya and Morocco. The people of Timbuktu began to suffer again when the struggle for power among the arma intensified. The bravest opposition to the Moroccans was exhibited by the independent askiyas of Songhay. The rise of the Bambara states, with their wars and raids, increased the supply of slaves from the interior to the European factories in the Senegambia. In the markets of the middle Niger, the trans-Saharan trade of the Moors converged with the Dyula trade system. The Islamic revivalism which culminated in the jihad movements of the nineteenth century was by no means a new phenomenon in the western Sudan.
  • 4 - The Guinea coast
    pp 223-324
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    The Guinea coast at the start of the seventeenth century was less developed than the western Sudanic hinterland, which had larger territorial states and more differentiated societies and whose peoples displayed a greater capacity to organize production and to defend or expand their spheres of socio-political control. Moving from west to east one could distinguish four areas: upper Guinea, with a dominating Mande presence; the Gold Coast, where the Akan were prominent; Yoruba/Aja territory; and eastern Nigeria, comprising mainly the Ibo and Ibibio. The Guinea coast imported a significant proportion of shoddy goods from Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the Bight of Biafra was no exception. For an understanding of the role of slaving and slave trading within the Gold Coast, it is necessary to return to the rise of Akwamu. Slave trading began making inroads into the western Gold Coast only at the end of the seventeenth century.
  • 5 - Central Africa from Cameroun to the Zambezi
    pp 325-383
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    In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the northern fringes of Central Africa presented a totally different picture from that of West Africa. In the seventeenth century, and more dramatically in the eighteenth century, the southern forest began to receive immigrants and refugees from the great southern savannas of Central Africa. Like some of the coastal states of West Africa, but unlike the Kongo kingdom, it had achieved a stable working relationship with the Atlantic slave traders. The Kimbundu-speaking peoples of the Luanda plateau were at war with colonial invaders throughout the period. Farther south, the Ovimbundu, on the Benguela plateau, were better able to resist military penetration. The lower Kasai is currently divided between the Bandundu and Kasai provinces of Zaïre, and the Lunda province of modern Angola. The wide eastern plains of Central Africa stretch across to the Great Lakes and down to the middle Zambezi.
  • 6 - Southern Africa and Madagascar
    pp 384-468
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    Profits, production and people were bound together in strong concentrations which enabled southern Africa in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries rigorously to confine the initial impact of European settlement to its fringe. Ironically, the Portuguese at first overestimated the power of the African ruler of whom they were most conscious, believing that the mwene mutapa controlled the export of gold from the whole of southern Africa. Still farther to the south, at Delagoa Bay, Portuguese trade was challenged by other Europeans, and African middlemen quickly seized the opportunities opened up by this rivalry. English and Indian ships, especially from Bombay and Surat, continued to carry on a flourishing trade in the eighteenth century, and they were joined by Dutch and French shipping. As the trading frontier between the Dutch and the Xhosa changed into a settlers' frontier, this skirmishing entered a new phase. The intensification of international trade through the Mozambique Channel had transformed the commercial geography of Madagascar.
  • 7 - Eastern Africa
    pp 469-536
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    Variety of experience is perhaps the most striking feature of the history of eastern Africa during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A decade ago, it was believed that the history of the central interior of eastern Africa during this period was dominated by the extension of a diluted form of interlacustrine political organization throughout the entire region. To the east of greater Unyamwezi, the intrusion of northern influences appears to have been at least as important as those emanating from the south and the coast during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The picture of social and political growth is much the same in the corridor area between Lakes Tanganyika and Malawi at this time. As economic motivation dominated Portuguese activities in the Zambezi valley from the very beginning, so they appear to have determined African responses to their intrusion. For the Portuguese, 'Zimba' seems to have been a generic term that they applied to almost any northern Zambezia marauders.
  • 8 - Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa
    pp 537-577
    • By M. Abir, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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    Historians of North-East Africa have been largely concerned with developments in the kingdom of Ethiopia and, to a lesser degree, with the principalities of the coast. Galla pressure on Adal and on the entire eastern part of the Horn continued to increase, and the links between Adal and the Benadir coast were completely disrupted. The deep scars left by the Muslim invasion were still unhealed when Ethiopia was confronted by this Galla migration. As a result of the Galla expansion, Ethiopian colonization in Serse-Dingil's reign took a northerly and a north-westerly direction. When Susenyos became king of kings, the situation in Ethiopia was extremely serious. Consequently, Indian merchants renewed their activities in the Red Sea, and they were followed by British and Dutch merchants who also occasionally traded with Ethiopia through Massawa. Fasiladas's new policy of friendship and co-operation had been welcomed by his Muslim neighbours.
  • 9 - Africa in Europe and the Americas
    pp 578-622
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    European sea voyages to Africa and America in the fifteenth century laid the basis for an extensive operation linking up the three continents. Farther along the western coast and in southern Africa, Europeans made completely new acquaintances. Olaudah Equiano made a direct political contribution to the abolitionist movement. The act of enslaving Africans on the west and east coasts of Africa was a critical stage in the production of racism. Africa's contribution to capitalism as a global system is best illustrated with reference to France and England, the leading capitalist powers in Europe by the end of the eighteenth century. To the extent that the settlement of Sierra Leone was bolstered by Christian organizations, it was also a new departure in Afro-European relations. Communities of self-liberated blacks in America during the slave epoch are also significant as the purest representations of African culture in the New World.
  • Bibliographical Essays
    pp 623-651
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    This bibliography presents a list of titles that help the reader to understand the history of Africa. The earliest Arabic chronicle which has been published is Ibn Iyās, which covers the Ottoman conquest and the first few years of Ottoman rule, and has been translated by Gaston Wiet. Carson and Ryder point to materials on West African history in European archives. Before their systematic presentations, historians had drawn upon European archival material on the Guinea coast. The history of southern Africa and Madagascar in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is known primarily, though still most inadequately, from oral tradition. The history of the Horn between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries seems to be amply documented. The unique Journal of Negro History makes a rather arbitrary separation of black history from mainstream American history, as much because of prejudiced white writings as because of disinterest on the part of establishment historians.

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Philip Curtin and Jan Vansina , ‘Sources of the nineteenth century Atlantic slave trade’, Journal of African History, 1964

D. Ayalon The historian al-Jabartī and his background’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 1960, 23, 2, 217–49.

JamesD. Graham , ‘The slave trade, depopulation and human sacrifice in Benin history’, Cahiers d'études africaines, 1965

Yves Person , ‘Ethnic movements and acculturation in upper Guinea since the fifteenth century’, African Historical Studies, 1971

Anne Wilson , ‘Longdistance trade and the Luba Lomami empire’, Journal of African History, 1972

P. M. Holt Sultan Selim I and the Sudan’, Journal of African History, 1967, 8, 1, 19–23.

P. M. Holt The sons of Jābir and their kin: a clan of Sudanese religious notables’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 1967, 30, 1, 142–57.

A. Traill , ‘N4 or S7? Another bushman language’, African Studies, 1973

Walter Rodney , ‘Upper Guinea and the significance of the origins of Africans enslaved in the New World’, Journal of Negro History, October 1969.

A. D. H. Bivar and M. Hiskett The Arabic literature of Nigeria to 1804: a provisional account’. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 1962, 25, I, 104–48.

P. Hill Rural Hausa: a village and a setting, Cambridge, 1972.

V. Paques Origine et caractères du pouvoir royal au Baguirmi’, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, 1967, 37, 183–214.

J. Wansbrough The decolonization of North African history’, Journal of African History 1968, 9, 643–50.

M. Brett Problems in the interpretation of the history of the Maghrib in the light of some recent publications’. Journal of African History, 1972, 13, 489–506.

P. D. Curtin Jihad in West Africa: early phases and inter-relations in Mauretania and Senegal’, Journal of African History, 1971, 12, 11–24.

J. Dupuis Journal of a residence in Ashantee. London, 1824.

E. Lévi-Provençal Un document inédit sur l'expédition sa‘dide au Soudan’, Arabica, 1955, 2, 89–96.

P. Marty L'Éirat des Trarzas. Paris, 1919.

E. J. Alagoa Long distance trade and states in the Niger delta’, Journal of African History, 1970, 11, 3.

I. Wilks Aspects of bureaucratization in Ashanti in the nineteenth century’, Journal of African History, 1966, 7, 2.

H. A.Dias Carvalho . Expedição ao mptatiânvua: ethnographia e história tradicional dos povos da Lunda, Lisbon, 1890.

E. Casalis The Basutos. London, 1861.

P. S. Garlake Seventeenth century Portuguese earthworks in Rhodesia’, South African Archaeological Bulletin, 1967, 21, 84, part 4, 157–70.

P. S. Garlake The value of imported ceramics in the dating and interpretation of the Rhodesian iron age’, Journal of African History, 1968, 9, 1 1–13

D. Hunt An account of the Bapedi’, Bantu Studies, 1931, 5, 4 4–275

E. J. Krige The place of the North-Eastern Transvaal Sotho in the South Bantu complex’, Africa, 1938, 11, 3 3–265

F. Kruger Tlokwa traditions’, Bantu Studies, 1937, 11, 2 2–85

L. F. Maingard Studies in Korana history, customs and language’, Bantu Studies, 1932, 6, 2 2–103

R. J. Mason Transvaal and Natal iron age settlement revealed by aerial photography and excavation’, African Studies, 1968, 27, 4 4–167

H. O. Monnig The Baroka ba Nkwana’, African Studies, 1963, 22, 4 4–170

G. S. Nienaber The origin of the name “Hottentot”’, African Studies, 1963, 22, 2 2–65

I. Schapera Notes on the history of the Kaa’, African Studies, 1945, 4, 3 3–109

A. M. Sebina Makalaka’, African Studies, 1947, 6, 2 2–82

P. V. Tobias Physical anthropology and somatic origins of the Hottentots’, African Studies, 1955, 14, 1 1–1

J. Walton Early Bafokeng settlement in South Africa’, African Studies, 1956, 15, 1 1–37

F. J. Berg The Swahili community of Mombasa, 1500–1900’, Journal of African History, 1968, 9, 1, 13–33.

D. W. Cohen A survey of interlacustrine chronology’, Journal of African History, 1970, 11, 2, 177–201.

D. W. Cohen The Chwezi cult’. Journal of African History, 1968, 9, 4, 651–57.

W. L. Lawren Masai and Kikuyu: an historical analysis of cultural transmission’, Journal of African History, 1968, 9, 4, 571–83.

B. G. Martin Notes on some members of the learned classes of Zanzibar and East Africa in the nineteenth century’, African Historical Studies, 1971, 4, 3, 525–45.

P. Mercer Shilluk trade and politics from the mid-seventeenth century to 1861’, Journal of African History, 1971, 12, 3, 407–26.

K. R. Robinson A preliminary report on the recent archaeology of Ngonde, Northern Malawi’, Journal of African History, 1966, 7, 2, 169–88.

Hamo Sassoon . ‘Engaruka: excavations during 1964’, Azania, 1966, 1, 79–99.

R. Willis Traditional history and social structure in Ufipa’, Africa, 1964, 34, 4, 340–51.

H. S. Lewis The origins of the Galla and Somali’, Journal of African History, 1966, 7.

Thevenot . The travels of Monsieur de Thevenot. London, 1687.

R. K. Kent Palmares: an African state in Brazil’, journal of African History, 1965, 6, 2, 161–75.

D. P. Abraham Maramuca: an exercise in the combined use of Portuguese records and oral tradition’, Journal of African History, 1961, 2, 2

R. G. Abrahams The political organization of Unyamwezi. Cambridge, 1967.

E. A. Alpers The French slave trade in East Africa (1721–1810)’, Cahiers d'études africaines, 1970, 10, 37, 80–124.

N. R. Bennett Christian and negro slaves in eighteenth century North Africa’, Journal of African History, 1960, 1.

A. D. H. Bivar and P. L. Shinnie O1d Kanuri capitals’. Journal of African History, 1962, 3, I.

L. C. Briggs Tribes of the Sahara. Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1960.

W. G. Browne Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria from the year 1792 to 1798. London, 1799.

J. Bruce Travels to discover the source of the Nile in the years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772 and 1773. Edinburgh, 1790. 5 vols.

A. Calonne-Beaufaict Azande, Brussels, 1921.

H. N. Chittick A new look at the history of Pate’, Journal of African History, 1969, 10, 3.

P. Curtin The image of Africa: British ideas and action 1780–1830, Madison, 1964.

O. Davies Excavations at Blackburn’, South African Archaeological Bulletin, 1971, 26, parts 3 and 4, nos. 103 and 104.

V. Ellenberger History of the Batlôkwa of Gaberones’, Bantu Studies, 1939, 13, 3

J. Forbes-Munro Migrations of the Bantu-speaking peoples of the eastern Kenya highlands: a reappraisal’. Journal of African History, 1967, 8, 1, 25–8.

H. A. Fosbrooke The Masai age-system as a guide to tribal chronology’, African Studies, 1956, 15, 4.

A. F. Gardiner A narrative of a Journey to the Zoolu country. London, 1836.

P. S. Garlake Rhodesian ruins-a preliminary assessment of their styles and chronology’, Journal of African History, 1970, 11, 4

A. J. H. Goodwin Commentary on “Jan Van Riebeeck and the Hottentots”’, S.A. Arch. Bull., 1952, 7, 26, 86–91

A. J. H. Goodwin Jan van Riebeeck and the Hottentots, 1652–1662’, S.A. Arch. Bull., 1952, 7, 25, 2–53

P. E. H. Hair Ethnolinguistic continuity on the Guinea Coast’, Journal of African History, 1967, 8.

W. D. Hammond-Tooke Segmentation and fission in Cape Nguni political units’, Africa. 1965, 35, 3, 1965.

A. W. Hoernlé The social organization of the Nama Hottentots of South West Africa’, American Anthropologist, 1925, 27

P. M. Holt Funj origins: a critique and new evidence’. Journal of African History, 1963, 4, 1.

A. J. B. Humphreys and T. M. O'C. Maggs Further graves and cultural material from the banks of the Riet river’, S.A. Arch. Bull., 1970, 25, 116–26

J. D. Krige Traditional origins and tribal relationships of the Sotho of the Northern Transvaal’, Bantu Studies, 1937, 11, 4

D. Lange Un vocabulaire kanuri de la fin du XVIIe siècle’, Cahiers d'etudes africaines, 1972, 12.

N. Levtzion A seventeenth century chronicle by Ibn al-Mukhtār: a critical review of Ta'rikh al-Fattāsh’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 1971, 34.

E. Leynaud Fraternités d'âge et sociétés de culture dans la haute-vallée du Niger’, Cahiers d études africaines, 1966, 6, 41–68.

T. M. O'C. Maggs Pastoral settlements on the Riet River’, S.A. Arch. Bull. 1971, 26, 37–63

L. F. Maingard The origin of the word “Hottentot”’, Bantu Studies, 1935, 9

S. Marks Khoisan resistance to the Dutch in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’. Journal of African History, 1972, 13, 1

B. G. Martin Kanem, Bornu, and the Fazzān: notes on the political history of a trade route’, Journal of African History, 1969, 10.

C. Meillassoux Histoire et institutions du kafo de Bamako’, Cahiers d'études africaines. 1963–4, 4, 186–227.

E. Miller ed. The Negro in America: a bibliography. Revised ed. Cambridge, Mass., 1970.

G. S. Nienaber Die vroegste verslae aangaande Hottentots’, African Studies, 1956, 15, 1

R. Pageard La marche orientale du Mali (Ségou–Djenné) en 1644 d'après le Tarikh es-SoudanJournal de la Société des Africanistes 1961, 31.

Y. Person Les ancêtres de Samori’, Cahiers d'études africaines, 1963, 4, 125–56.

Y. Person Samori et la Sierra Leone’, Cahiers d'études africaines, 1967, 7, 5–26.

T. Price More about the Maravi’, African Studies, 1952, 11.

I. Schapera A short history of the Bangwaketse’, African Studies, 1, 1, 1942

I. Schapera The social structure of a Tswana Ward’, Bantu Studies, 1935, 9, 3

C. A. Schoute-Vanneck The Shell Middens on the Durban Bluff’, S.A. Arch. Bull. 1958, 13, 50 43–54

J. D. Seddon Kurrichane: a late iron age site in the western Transvaal’, African Studies, 1966, 25, 4

Y. Urvoy Chroniques d'Agadès’, Journal de la Societé des Africanistes, 1934, 4, 145–77.

J. Vansina The foundation of the kingdom of Kasanje’, Journal of African History, 1963, 4.

M. Wilson The early history of the Transkei and Ciskei’, African Studies, 1959, 18, 1, 4


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