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The African Poor

The African Poor
A History


Part of African Studies

  • Author: John Iliffe, University of Cambridge and St John's College, Cambridge
  • Date Published: March 1988
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521348775

£ 28.99

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About the Authors
  • This history of the poor of Sub-Saharan Africa begins in the monasteries of thirteenth-century Ethiopia and ends in the South African resettlement sites of the 1980s. Its thesis, derived from histories of poverty in Europe, is that most very poor Africans have been individuals incapacitated for labour, bereft of support, and unable to fend for themselves in a land-rich economy. There has emerged the distinct poverty of those excluded from access to productive resources. Natural disaster brought widespread destitution, but as a cause of mass mortality it was almost eliminated in the colonial era, to return to those areas where drought has been compounded by administrative breakdown. Professor Iliffe investigates what it was like to be poor, how the poor sought to help themselves, how their counterparts in other continents live. The poor live as people, rather than merely parading as statistics. Famines have alerted the world to African poverty, but the problem itself is ancient. Its prevailing forms will not be understood until those of earlier periods are revealed and trends of change are identified. This is a book for all concerned with the future of Africa, as well as for students of poverty elsewhere.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is history which is in empathy with Africa which seeks, and finds, the positive elements in the suffering of the poor.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    'This pioneering book is both comprehensive and also eminently fair: whether in dealing with pre-colonial, colonial, or contemporary conditions, Iliffe presents a splendidly balanced and unprejudiced view always meticulously supported by the factual evidence.' American Anthropologist

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 1988
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521348775
    • length: 400 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The comparative history of the poor
    2. Christian Ethiopia
    3. The Islamic tradition
    4. Poverty and pastoralism
    6. Yoruba and Igbo
    7. Early European initiatives
    8. Poverty in South Africa, 1886–1948
    9. Rural poverty in colonial Africa
    10. Urban poverty in tropical Africa
    11. The care of the poor in colonial Africa
    12. Leprosy
    13. The growth of poverty in independent Africa
    14. The transformation of poverty in southern Africa

  • Author

    John Iliffe, University of Cambridge and St John's College, Cambridge

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