Cover image for Key events in African history : a reference guide
Key events in African history : a reference guide
Falola, Toyin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xxiii, 347 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
"An Oryx book."
Timeline of historical events -- The prehistoric past: the evolution of homo sapiens sapiens, 40,000 B.C. -- The agricultural revolution, 5000 B.C.+ -- The civilization of ancient Egypt, 3100 B.C.+ -- The iron age and the spread of Bantu speakers, 730 B.C.+ -- The rise of Kush and Aksum, 730 B.C.+ -- The Greeks and Romans in North Africa, 332 B.C.+ -- Ethiopia: the emergence of a Christian kingdom, 1250 A.D.+ -- The spread of Islam, 622 A.D. onward -- Kingdoms of West Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, A.D. 1000-1600 -- The rise of the Swahili city-states of East Africa, tenth-fourteenth century A.D. -- The Atlantic slave trade, 1440-1870 -- The organization of societies, fifteenth century A.D. onward -- The outbreak of Islamic jihad, 1804 -- Wars and revolution among the Yoruba, 1817-93 -- The spread of Christianity, 1804 onward -- The rise of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, 1811-47 -- The Mfecane: Shaka and the Zulu kingdom, 1816-40 -- European conquest and African response, 1885-1900 -- The colonial experience, 1900-39 -- The entrenchment of Apartheid in South Africa, 1948 -- Africa drawn into the Second World War, 1940-45 -- The end of European rule, 1951-90 -- Violence to gain national liberation, 1952-62 -- Confrontation with the gains and pains if independence, 1958-70 -- The formation of the organization of African unity, 1963 -- Coups, counter coups, and military regimes, 1963 onward -- Ufamaa and policy choices, 1967 onward -- The creation of the economic community of West African states, 1975 -- Portuguese colonies attain freedom, 1975 -- Cultural revival and cultural inventory: the second world festival of African arts and culture, 1977 -- The women's decade, 1975-85 -- A continent in deep crisis, 1980 -- Environmental challenges, 1980 onward -- African refugees, 1980 onward -- Africa in world politics in transition, 1980s onward -- The fall of Apartheid and the advent of Nelson Mandela's government, 1994-99.
Reading Level:
1200 Lexile.
Geographic Term:
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library DT20 .F35 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This reference guide to African history provides substantive entries on 36 watershed events that shaped the history of the continent from the prehistoric past to the dawn of the 21st century. Noted African scholar Toyin Falola clearly and articulately chronicles the growth and change of the continent from the agricultural revolution through colonial rule to African independence and the end of apartheid, examining the powerful moments at which Africa became drawn into the global world. Each entry appears in chronological order and consists of a comprehensive essay on the event, its historical, social, and geographic context, and its long-term significance. Many illustrations and maps provide valuable visual tools for the reader. Each entry concludes with suggestions for further reading. A narrative introduction to the history of the continent and a timeline of events place the events in historical and global context.

Based on the latest scholarship, this reference work analyzes the major events in African history and their ramifications, and draws connections between the past and the present. Key themes recur throughout: the development of diverse African cultures, Arab and European incursions and influence, and the efforts of African peoples to gain independence in the 20th century. Among the events recounted are the Iron Age, the rise of the Kush, the spread of Islam, the 19th-century outbreak of Islamic Jihad, the Atlantic slave trade, European conquest and the African response, Pan-Africanism, the women's decade of 1965-1975, and environmental and political challenges of the last years of the 20th century. Well written and objective, this work is an essential reference tool for students and an excellent complement to the study of African history.

Author Notes

TOYIN FALOLA is the Frances Higginbothom Nalle Centennial Professor in History at the University of Texas, Austin. A distinguished Africanist, Falola serves on the editorial board of many journals, co-edits the Journal of African Economic History , and serves as the series editor of the University of Rochester's Studies in African History and the Diaspora . He is also series editor of the Greenwood Press series Culture and Customs of Africa. His publications include many essays and books on Nigeria, including Decolonization and Development Planning (1996), Violence in Nigeria: The Crisis of Religious Politics and Secular Ideologies (1998), and The History of Nigeria (Greenwood, 1999).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Distinguished scholar and Africanist Falola surveys the complicated history of the African continent by focusing on 36 pivotal events that either caused or led to significant changes and developments in African social, political, and cultural life from around 40,000 B.C.E. to the collapse of apartheid in the 1990s. Included are such diverse topics as the growth of the ironworks, the spread of Islam and Christianity, the founding of Liberia, military coups, and refugee problems in the 1980s and 1990s. As the author indicates in his preface, this volume is meant to be used together with a text on African history and is intended for high-school and college students. Following a detailed time line of historical events, each topic is highlighted in an individual chapter including cross-references, historical and political maps, illustrations, a notes section, and a suggested list for further reading that provides many recent references by international scholars. The chapters are in chronological sequence and divided into ancient and precolonial, nineteenth-century, and twentieth-century periods, and the index is well arranged. Only a cursory mention is made of the AIDS epidemic, which now accounts for more than 70 percent of the number of worldwide cases. Perhaps the impact of this disease can be the subject of a chapter in an updated edition. In his overview, the author comments about the paucity of interest in African history that existed as recently as 100 years ago, with the resulting lack of historiography. Much research is now being published by both non-African and indigenous scholars; one advantage of this volume for the student is that it spans such a broad time frame, where other references, such as Vogel's Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa (AltaMira, 1997) or Oliver and Atmore's Medieval Africa, 1250^-1800 (Cambridge, 2001), address a specific time period or a single subject area, although in greater detail. High-school and college libraries will find this book a valuable addition to their collections.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-A compact overview and summary of events that have shaped the history of the African continent. Preceding the text is a time line covering 40,000 B.C. to A.D. 2001, divided into four periods: "Ancient," "Precolonial," "Colonial," and "Postcolonial." The 36 scholarly chapters that follow take a chronological approach. They examine the growth of kingdoms and various cultures on the continent, the diverse peoples and geographies that contribute to its history, and outside influences. Chapters include: "The Iron Age and the Spread of Bantu Speakers, 730 B.C.+," "The Rise of Kush and Aksum, 730 B.C.+," and "The Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440-1870." Aspects of Islam, apartheid, national liberation, and recent environmental challenges are also addressed. Simple black-and-white maps and some average-quality photos and reproductions appear throughout. A bibliography concludes each chapter. This survey will prove useful as a reference source for advanced students. It should also find a home in circulating collections.-Janet Woodward, Garfield High School, Seattle, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Targeted at high school and college libraries for students taking survey courses in African history, this is an intriguing book. Each of its 36 core chapters (12 on the ancient and precolonial periods, six on the 19th century, and 18 on the 20th century) focuses on a "key event" and reads like narrative lecture notes. Topics covered in the first two parts are mostly familiar standards: early Egypt; the spread of Bantu speakers and iron; the West African kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai; the Atlantic slave trade; the rise of the Zulu kingdom; and the imposition of colonial rule. Some of the most useful and thoughtful chapters, however, are on postcolonial Africa, ranging from the 1977 Second World Festival of African Arts and Culture to broad discussions of the ongoing political, economic, environmental, and refugee crises affecting much of the continent. Uneven, with some typos (such as Franzt, rather than Frantz, Fanon), and not always up-to-date (as with the chapter positing the spread of iron and Bantu speakers as "inseparable"), this still could be useful for its intended audience, even if its price seems steep. Summing Up: Recommended. General and undergraduate libraries. R. R. Atkinson University of South Carolina

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Timeline of Historical Eventsp. xiii
Part I. The Ancient and Precolonial Period
Africa: An Overviewp. 3
1. The Prehistoric Past: The Evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens, 40,000 B.C.p. 18
2. The Agricultural Revolution, 5000 B.C.+p. 26
3. The Civilization of Ancient Egypt, 3100 B.C.+p. 34
4. The Iron Age and the Spread of Bantu Speakers, 730 B.C.+p. 43
5. The Rise of Kush and Aksum, 730 B.C.+p. 54
6. The Greeks and Romans in North Africa, 332 B.C.+p. 62
7. Ethiopia: The Emergence of a Christian Kingdom, A.D. 1250+p. 69
8. The Spread of Islam, A.D. 622 Onwardp. 79
9. Kingdoms of West Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, A.D. 1000-1600p. 90
10. The Rise of the Swahili City-States of East Africa, Tenth-Fourteenth Century A.D.p. 102
11. The Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440-1870p. 110
12. The Organization of Societies, Fifteenth Century A.D. Onwardp. 119
Part II. The Nineteenth-Century Period
13. The Outbreak of Islamic Jihad, 1804p. 131
14. Wars and Revolution among the Yoruba, 1817-93p. 140
15. The Spread of Christianity, 1804 Onwardp. 149
16. The Rise of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, 1811-47p. 159
17. The Mfecane: Shaka and the Zulu Kingdom, 1816-40p. 167
18. European Conquest and African Response, 1885-1900p. 175
Part III. The Twentieth-Century Period
19. The Colonial Experience, 1900-1939p. 187
20. The Entrenchment of Apartheid in South Africa, 1948p. 197
21. Africa Drawn into the Second World War, 1940-45p. 205
22. The End of European Rule, 1951-90p. 212
23. Violence to Gain National Liberation, 1952-62p. 221
24. Confrontation with the Gains and Pains of Independence, 1958-70p. 231
25. The Formation of the Organization of African Unity, 1963p. 239
26. Coups, Counter Coups, and Military Regimes, 1963 Onwardp. 246
27. Ujamaa and Policy Choices, 1967 Onwardp. 254
28. The Creation of the Economic Community of West African States, 1975p. 262
29. Portuguese Colonies Attain Freedom, 1975p. 270
30. Cultural Revival and Cultural Inventory: The Second World Black Festival of Arts and Culture, 1977p. 281
31. The Women's Decade, 1975-85p. 289
32. A Continent in Deep Crisis, 1980 Onwardp. 297
33. Environmental Challenges, 1980s Onwardp. 305
34. African Refugees, 1980 Onwardp. 312
35. Africa in World Politics in Transition, 1980s Onwardp. 320
36. The Fall of Apartheid and the Advent of Nelson Mandela's Government, 1994-99p. 328
Indexp. 337

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