Africans: The History of a Continent (African Studies)
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This history of Africa from the origins of mankind to the South African general election of 1994 refocuses African history on the peopling of an environmentally hostile continent. The social, economic and political institutions of the African continent were designed to ensure survival and maximize numbers, but in the context of medical progress and other twentieth-century innovations these institutions have bred the most rapid population growth the world has ever seen. The history of the continent is thus a single story binding living Africans to the earliest human ancestors.
Delagoa Bay (modern Maputo), exporting first ivory and then cattle in return, it appears, chiefly for iron and copper. This may have given chiefly lineages further reason to expand territories and assert authority over weaker neighbours, although imported goods seem to have had little importance among northern Nguni. In the lower lands towards the coast, several chiefdoms strengthened their defensive capacity by replacing local initiation of young men by chiefdom-wide age-regiments, apparently
known successor was the Edo kingdom of Benin, the only other important forest state of the period. Here the evidence that the kingdom grew from earlier villages and microstates is especially clear from the ten thousand kilometres of earth boundaries built by their founders in the early second P1: RNK 0521864381 c05 CUNY780B-African 80 978 0 521 68297 8 May 15, 2007 15:44 africans: the history of a continent millennium. Benin City, on their western edge, may have originated as a religious
time, was a stone-walled town as big as Kazembe’s capital. Another Tswana capital, Latakoo, occupied roughly the same area in the early nineteenth century and was thought ‘fully as large as Cape Town’, its scattered huts housing between five thousand and fifteen thousand people. Tswana capitals moved frequently, had little economic or environmental rationale, and often disintegrated at times of political weakness, suggesting that they arose mainly from a combination of royal power and cultural
culture The distinction between field and forest, civilisation and savagery, was as central to thought, folklore, and culture as it was in western Africa. One spectacular manifestation was the Nyau dance society in Maravi chiefdoms. Some think that it originated from ancient San hunting rituals, others that it was brought from Luba country in the second millennium. It certainly became a focus of resistance to immigrant Phiri rulers. Nyau was said to have originated during famine. It was a dance
15:55 7 The Atlantic slave trade a h i s to ry o f a f r i c a m u s t g i ve a ce n t r a l p l ace to t h e Atlantic slave trade, both for its moral and emotional significance and for its potential importance in shaping the continent’s development. The view taken here is that its effects were extensive, complex, and understandable only in light of the character that African societies had already taken during their long struggle with nature. At the least, slave exports interrupted western