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Africa

Africa (ăf´rĬkə), second largest continent (2009 est. pop. 1,010,000,000), c.11,677,240 sq mi (30,244,050 sq km) including adjacent islands. Broad to the north (c.4,600 mi/7,400 km wide), Africa straddles the equator and stretches c.5,000 mi (8,050 km) from Cape Blanc (Tunisia) in the north to Cape Agulhas (South Africa) in the south. It is connected with Asia by the Sinai Peninsula (from which it is separated by the Suez Canal) and is bounded on the N by the Mediterranean Sea, on the W and S by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the E and S by the Indian Ocean. The largest offshore island is Madagascar; other islands include St. Helena and Ascension in the S Atlantic Ocean; São Tomé, Príncipe, Annobón, and Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea; the Cape Verde, Canary, and Madeira islands in the N Atlantic Ocean; and Mauritius, Réunion, Zanzibar, Pemba, and the Comoros and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

Geology and Geography

Most of Africa is a series of stable, ancient plateau surfaces, low in the north and west and higher (rising to more than 6,000 ft/1,830 m) in the south and east. The plateau is composed mainly of metamorphic rock that has been overlaid in places by sedimentary rock. The escarpment of the plateau is often in close proximity to the coast, thus leaving the continent with a generally narrow coastal plain; in addition, the escarpment forms barriers of falls and rapids in the lower courses of rivers that impede their use as transportation routes into the interior. Northern Africa is underlain by folded sedimentary rock and is, geologically, more closely related to Europe than to the rest of the continent of Africa; the Atlas Mts., which occupy most of the region, are a part of the Alpine mountain system of southern Europe. The entire African continent is surrounded by a narrow continental shelf. The lowest point on the continent is 509 ft (155 m) below sea level in Lake Assal in Djibouti; the highest point is Mt. Uhuru (Kibo; 19,340 ft/5,895 m), a peak of Kilimanjaro in NE Tanzania. From north to south the principal mountain ranges of Africa are the Atlas Mts. (rising to more than 13,000 ft/3,960 m), the Ethiopian Highlands (rising to more than 15,000 ft/4,570 m), the Ruwenzori Mts. (rising to more than 16,000 ft/4,880 m), and the Drakensberg Range (rising to more than 11,000 ft/3,350 m).

The continent's largest rivers are the Nile (the world's longest river), the Congo, the Niger, the Zambezi, the Orange, the Limpopo, and the Senegal. The largest lakes are Victoria (the world's second largest freshwater lake), Tanganyika, Albert, Turkana, and Nyasa (or Malawi), all in E Africa; shallow Lake Chad, the largest in W Africa, shrinks considerably during dry periods. The lakes and major rivers (most of which are navigable in stretches above the escarpment of the plateau) form an important inland transportation system.

Geologically, recent major earth disturbances have been confined to areas of NW and E Africa. Geologists have long noted the excellent fit (in shape and geology) between the coast of Africa at the Gulf of Guinea and the Brazilian coast of South America, and they have evidence that Africa formed the center of a large ancestral supercontinent known as Pangaea. Pangaea began to break apart in the Jurassic period to form Gondwanaland, which included Africa, the other southern continents, and India. South America was separated from Africa c.76 million years ago, when the floor of the S Atlantic Ocean was opened up by seafloor spreading; Madagascar was separated from it c.65 million years ago; and Arabia was separated from it c.20 million years ago, when the Red Sea was formed. There is also evidence of one-time connections between NW Africa and E North America, N Africa and Europe, Madagascar and India, and SE Africa and Antarctica.

Similar large-scale earth movements (see plate tectonics) are also believed responsible for the formation of the Great Rift Valley of E Africa, which is the continent's most spectacular land feature. From c.40 to c.60 mi (60–100 km) wide, it extends in Africa c.1,800 mi (2,900 km), from the northern end of the Jordan Rift Valley in SW Asia to near the mouth of the Zambezi River; the eastern branch of the rift valley is occupied in sections by Lakes Nyasa and Turkana, and the western branch, curving N from Lake Nyasa, is occupied by Lakes Tanganyika, Kivu, Edward, and Albert. The lava flows of the recent and subrecent epochs in the Ethiopian Highlands, and volcanoes farther south, are associated with the rift; among the principal volcanoes are Kilimanjaro, Kenya, Elgon, Meru, and the Virunga range with Mt. Karisimbi, Nyiragongo, and Nyamuragira (Nyamulagira). A less spectacular rift, the Cameroon Rift, is associated with volcanic activity in W Africa and trends NE from St. Helena Island to São Tomé, Príncipe, and Bioko to near the Tibesti Massif in the Sahara.

Climate

Africa's climatic zones are largely controlled by the continent's location astride the equator and its almost symmetrical extensions into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Thus, except where altitude exerts a moderating influence on temperature or precipitation (permanently snowcapped peaks are found near the equator), Africa may be divided into six general climatic regions. Areas near the equator and on the windward shores of SE Madagascar have a tropical rain forest climate, with heavy rain and high temperatures throughout the year. North and south of the rain forest are belts of tropical savanna climate, with high temperatures all year and a seasonal distribution of rain during the summer season. The savanna grades poleward in both hemispheres into a region of semiarid steppe (with limited summer rain) and then into the arid conditions of the extensive Sahara (north) and the Kalahari (south). Belts of semiarid steppe with limited winter rain occur on the poleward sides of the desert regions. At the northern and southern extremities of the continent are narrow belts of Mediterranean-type climate with subtropical temperatures and a concentration of rainfall mostly in the autumn and winter months.

African Peoples

African peoples, who account for over 12% of the world's population, are distributed among 55 countries and are further distinguishable in terms of linguistic (see African languages) and cultural groups, which number around 1,000. The Sahara forms a great ethnic divide. North of it, mostly Arabs predominate along the coast and Berbers (including the Tuareg) and Tibbu in the interior regions. Sub-Saharan Africa is occupied by a diverse variety of peoples including, among others, the Amhara, Mossi, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Kongo (see Kongo, kingdom of), Zulu (see Zululand), Akan, Oromo, Masai, and Hausa. Europeans are concentrated in areas with subtropical climates or tropical climates modified by altitude; in the south are persons of Dutch and British descent, and in the northwest are persons of French, Italian, and Spanish descent. Lebanese make up an important minority community throughout W Africa, as do Indians in many coastal towns of S and E Africa. There are also significant Arab populations both in E Africa and more recently in W Africa. As a whole, Africa is sparsely populated; the highest densities are found in Nigeria, the Ethiopian highlands, the Nile valley, and around the Great Lakes (which include Victoria and Tanganyika). The principal cities of Africa are usually the national capitals and the major ports, and they usually contain a disproportionately large percentage of the national populations; Cairo, Lagos (Nigeria), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Alexandria (Egypt), and Casablanca (Morocco) are the largest cities of Africa.

Economy

Most of Africa's population is rural, but, except for cash crops, such as cacao and peanuts, agricultural production is low by world standards; Africa produces three quarters of the world's cocoa beans and about one third of its peanuts. Rare and precious minerals (including much of the world's diamonds) are abundant in the continent's ancient crystalline rocks, which are found mostly to the south and east of a line from the Gulf of Guinea to the Sinai Peninsula; extensive oil, gas, and phosphate deposits occur in sedimentary rocks to the north and west of this general line. Manufacturing is concentrated in the Republic of South Africa and in N Africa (especially Egypt and Algeria). Despite Africa's enormous potential for hydroelectric power production, only a small percentage of it has been developed. Africa's fairly regular coastline affords few natural harbors, and the shallowness of coastal waters makes it difficult for large ships to approach the shore; deepwater ports, protected by breakwaters, have been built offshore to facilitate commerce and trade. Major fishing grounds are found over the wider sections of the continental shelf as off NW, SW, and S Africa and NW Madagascar.

Outline of History

Early History to 1500

Africa has the longest human history of any continent. African hominids date from at least 4 million years ago; agriculture, brought from SW Asia, appears to date from the 6th or 5th millennium BC Africa's first great civilization began in Egypt in 3400 BC; other ancient centers were Kush and Aksum. Phoenicians established Carthage in the 9th cent. BC and probably explored the northwestern coast as far as the Canary Islands by the 1st cent. BC Romans conquered Carthage in 146 BC and controlled N Africa until the 4th cent. AD Arabs began their conquest in the 7th cent. and, except in Ethiopia, Muslim traders extended the religion of Islam across N Africa and S across the Sahara into the great medieval kingdoms of the W Sudan. The earliest of these kingdoms, which drew their wealth and power from the control of a lucrative trans-Saharan trade in gold, salt, and slaves, was ancient Ghana, already thriving when first recorded by Arabs in the 8th cent. In the 13th cent. Ghana was conquered and incorporated into the kingdom of ancient Mali, famous for its gold and its wealthy capital of Timbuktu. In the late 15th cent. Mali was eclipsed by the Songhai empire and lost many provinces but remained an autonomous kingdom.

There are few written accounts of the southern half of the continent before 1500, but it appears from linguistic and archaeological evidence that the older inhabitants were gradually absorbed or displaced by agricultural, iron-working peoples speaking related Bantu languages who originated from near the modern Nigeria-Cameroon border. Between the 1st cent. BC and 1500, Bantu-speaking peoples became dominant over most of the continent S of the equator, establishing small farming villages and in places powerful kingdoms, such as Kongo, Luba, and Mwememutapa. Prior to and after 1500, pastoralists moved south until they encountered the various Bantu groups and founded the kingdom of Kitara in the 16th cent. They subsequently founded the kingdoms of Bunyoro, Buganda, Rwanda, and Ankole, all of which had elaborate social structures based on a cattle-owning aristocracy.

European Domination

The period of European domination of Africa began in the 15th cent. with Portuguese exploration of the coasts of Africa in an attempt to establish a safe route to India and to tap the lucrative gold trade of Sudan and the east coast trade in gold, slaves, and ivory conducted for centuries by Arabs and Swahili. In 1488 Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope; in 1498 Vasco da Gama reached the east coast and, the following year, India. In the centuries that followed, coastal trading stations were established by Portugal and later by the Dutch, English, French, and other European maritime powers; under them the slave trade rapidly expanded. At the same time Ottoman Turks extended their control over N Africa and the shores of the Red Sea, and the Omani Arabs established suzerainty over the east coast as far south as Cape Delgado.

Explorations in the 18th and 19th cent. reported the great natural wealth of the continent while capturing the imagination of Europeans, who viewed Africa as the "Dark Continent." These were key factors in the ensuing wave of European imperialism; between 1880 and 1912 all of Africa except Liberia and Ethiopia fell under control of European powers, with the boundaries of the new colonies often bearing no relationship to the realities of geography or to the political and social organization of the indigenous population. In the northwest and west, France ultimately acquired regions that came to be known as French West Africa, French Equatorial Africa, and the French Cameroons, and established protectorates in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Other French territories were French Somaliland, French Togoland, Madagascar, and Réunion. The main group of British possessions was in E and S Africa; it included the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, British Somaliland, Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika (after World War I), Zanzibar, Nyasaland, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Bechuanaland, Basutoland, and Swaziland. Following Britain's victory in the South African War (1899–1902), its South African possessions (Transvaal, Orange Free State, Cape Colony, and Natal) became a dominion within the British Empire. Gambia, Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and Nigeria were British possessions on the west coast. Portugal's African empire was made up of Portuguese Guinea, Angola, and Mozambique, in addition to various enclaves and islands on the west coast. Belgium held the Belgian Congo and, after World War I, Ruanda-Urundi. The Spanish possessions in Africa were the smallest, being composed of Spanish Guinea, Spanish Sahara, Ifni, and the protectorate of Spanish Morocco. The extensive German holdings—Togoland, the Cameroons, German South-West Africa, and German East Africa—were lost after World War I and redistributed among the Allies; Italy's empire included Libya, Eritrea, and Italian Somaliland.

Movement toward Independence

The Union of South Africa was formed and became virtually self-governing in 1910, Egypt achieved a measure of sovereignty in 1922, and in 1925 Tangier, previously attached to Morocco, was made an international zone. At the end of World War II a rise in international trade spurred renewed exploitation of Africa's resources. France and Britain began campaigns to improve conditions in their African holdings, including access to education and investment in infrastructure. Africans were also able to pressure France and Britain into a degree of self-administration. Belgium and Portugal did little in the way of colonial development and sought greater control over their colonies during this period.

In the 1950s and 1960s, in the face of rising nationalism, most of the European powers granted independence to their territories. The sequence of change included independence for Libya in 1951; independence for Eritrea in federation with Ethiopia in 1952 (later absorbed by Ethiopia, Eritrea became fully independent in 1993); in 1956 independence for Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia and the return of Tangier to Morocco; in 1957 independence for Ghana; in 1958 independence for Guinea and the return of Spanish Morocco to Morocco. In 1960 France granted independence to Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Côte d'Ivoire, Dahomey (now Benin), Gabon, the Malagasy Republic (now Madagascar), Mali (briefly merged in 1959–60 with Senegal as the Sudanese Republic), Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso); also newly independent in 1960 were Congo (Kinshasa)—the former Belgian Congo—and Nigeria, Somalia, and Togo. In 1961 Sierra Leone and Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania) became independent, the Portuguese enclave of São João Baptista de Ajudá was seized by Dahomey, the British Cameroons were divided between Nigeria and Cameroon, and South Africa became a republic. In 1962 Algeria, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda became independent nations. Remaining British possessions after 1962 were Zanzibar, which gained independence in 1963 and joined with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964; Gambia and Kenya, which became independent in 1963; Malawi (formerly Nyasaland) and Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia), independent in 1964; Botswana (formerly Bechuanaland) and Lesotho (formerly Basutoland), independent in 1966; and Mauritius and Swaziland, independent in 1968. In 1968 Spain granted independence to Equatorial Guinea, and in 1969 Spain returned Ifni to Morocco.

In 1974 Portuguese Guinea became independent as Guinea-Bissau, and the former Portuguese territories of Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Principe became independent in 1975. After Spain relinquished the Spanish Sahara (Western Sahara) to joint Moroccan-Mauritanian control in 1976, a guerrilla force undertook a struggle for independence there. Under rebel pressure, Mauritania yielded its sector of Western Sahara to Morocco in 1979; Morocco, for its part, built fortifications in the territory and resisted pressures for its independence. A cease-fire (1991) ended the fighting but did not lead to a final resolution. The Seychelles and the Comoros became independent in 1976 from Great Britain and France, respectively, and in 1977 the former French Territory of the Afars and the Issas became independent as Djibouti. When Rhodesia (formerly Southern Rhodesia) unilaterally declared itself independent in 1965, Great Britain termed the act illegal and imposed trade sanctions against the country; after a protracted civil war, however, Rhodesia gained recognized independence in 1980 as Zimbabwe. South West Africa, which had been administered by South Africa since 1922 under an old League of Nations mandate (South Africa's continued administration of the territory was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 1971), won its independence in 1990 as Namibia. Great Britain retains control of the islands of St. Helena and Ascension, and Mayotte and Réunion remain French. Spain retains the Canary Islands and Ceuta and Melilla, two small exclaves on Morocco's coast.

The Postcolonial Period

In the early postcolonial period the most pressing problems facing new African states were the need for aid to develop natural resources, provide education, and improve living standards; threats of secession and military coups; and shifting alliances among the states and with outside powers. Recognizing that unity and cooperation were needed, African nations established the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 in Addis Ababa. African nations were also forced to form alliances based on the cold war politics of the USSR, the United States, Cuba, and other countries in order to receive badly needed aid. This period saw the overthrow of democratic forms of government and numerous coups resulting in the installation of military regimes and single-party governments.

Beginning in the late 1960s and continuing through the mid-1970s, a severe drought desiccated the Sahel region S of the Sahara. The resulting famine, disease, and environmental destruction caused the death of thousands of people and forced the southward migration of additional hundreds of thousands to less affected areas.

From 1975 into the 21st cent., Africa continued to experience political, social, and economic upheaval. The postindependence era has also been marked by a rise in nationalist struggles. Wars in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia continued, and political instability in these nations continued. Civil war in Ethiopia resulted in the birth (1993) of a new country, Eritrea; in 1998–2000 the two nations fought a bloody border war. Beginning in the 1970s, Chad fought Libyan expansionist activity with help of the French military. Relations between Chad and Libya were finally normalized in 1989. Chad remained beset, however, by regional and ethnic fighting, with rebels receiving support from Sudan in the early 21st cent. while Chad supported Sudanese rebels. The conflict between N and S Sudan largely ended with a peace agreement in 2005, and in 2011 South Sudan voted to become an independent nation. Other conflicts within Sudan, most notably in Darfur but also elsewhere, continued to fester.

In the late 1980s, there was a decline of Marxist influence in Angola, from where Cuban troops began to withdraw in 1989, as well as from civil war–torn Mozambique. A UN-aided peace process in Mozambique culminated in peaceful elections there in 1994, but civil conflict continued until 2002 in Angola, as numerous peace agreements between rebels and the government were broken.

South African blacks led an enduring struggle against white domination, with frequent confrontations (such as the Soweto uprising in 1976) leading to government repression and escalating violence. Throughout the 1980s the international community applied pressure in the form of economic sanctions in order to induce the South African government to negotiate with the African National Congress (ANC). In 1989 newly elected Prime Minister F. W. de Klerk promised democratic reforms that would phase out white minority rule, and in 1992 the legal underpinnings of apartheid were largely dismantled. Consequently, South Africa's black majority participated in the country's first fully democratic elections in 1994, which brought Nelson Mandela and the ANC to power.

Other African nations began to introduce democratic reforms in the late 1980s and early 1990s that included multiparty elections; transitions to democratically elected leadership have taken place in countries such as Mali, Zambia, Benin, and Malawi. Political instability and civil strife continued to plague several regions of the continent into the late 1990s, most notably Liberia and Sierra Leone in W Africa and Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi in the Great Lakes region. Peace treaties signed in Liberia (1997) and Sierra Leone (1999) between those countries' governments and insurgents promised some hope of stability.

In Rwanda in 1994 a Hutu-led government that provoked ethnic tensions leading to the genocide of nearly one million persons was overthrown by Tutsi-led forces; by 1997 there was a growing war between the Rwandan army and Hutu guerrilla bands. Also in 1997, 30 years of dictatorical rule in Zaïre were brought to an end, and the country's name was changed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The new government was soon threatened, however, by mutinous troops who assumed control of large areas of the country; a cease-fire was signed in 1999, but unrest continued in parts of Congo in subsequent years. Nigeria ushered in a new government in 1999 with the first democratically elected president since 1983. Several African countries made positive strides in managing market-oriented economic reform in the 1990s, most notably Ghana, Uganda, and Malawi.

In 1992–93, the worst African drought of the 20th cent. and numerous civil wars were the primary causes of a famine that spread across portions of sub-Saharan Africa and most severely affected the nations of Somalia and Mozambique. The scourge of AIDS has continued to pose a major health threat to many African nations, as a lack of economic resources often has prevented an effective response. Warfare, poverty, and hunger continue to present significant challenges in Africa, where ethnic tensions and political instability, along with the resulting economic disruption, still afflict many countries.

Mindful of the OAU's relative ineffectiveness in dealing with these issues and seeking an organization with greater powers to promote African economic, social, and political integration, African leaders established the African Union (AU), which superseded the OAU in 2002. The AU has proved somewhat more effective than OAU, but has had difficulty in successively confronting and resolving serious political crises (and sometimes civil war) in Somalia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, and other nations.

Bibliography

See P. Curtin, Precolonial African History (1974); R. Hallet, Africa since 1875 (1974); W. A. Hance, The Geography of Modern Africa (rev. ed. 1975); J. D. Fage and R. Oliver, ed., The Cambridge History of Africa (8 vol., 1975–85); A. E. Afigb et al., The Making of Modern Africa (1986); UNESCO staff, The UNESCO General History of Africa (8 vol., 1988); T. Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa (1991); H. L. Wesseling, Divide and Rule: The Partition of Africa, 1880–1914 (1991, tr. 1996); R. Oliver, The African Experience (1992); J. Reader, Africa: A Biography of the Continent (1998); K. A. Appiah and H. L. Gates, Jr., ed., The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (2000).

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Africa

Africa


It is often said that African children face a short, difficult, and brutish existence. Press coverage often stereotypes the sub-Saharan region as a repository of collapse and death. In news reports of civil conflict, plague, and starvation African children are portrayed simply as victims: forever abandoned, turned to fodder by warlords, or buried in endemic calamity. It is tempting to use these pervasive media descriptions to link past and present childhoods in Africa, as if nothing has changed over time. Yet the spotty records that exist from previous centuries do not support this narrow approach. Thus a comprehensive history of African childhood requires a broader analytical view and deeper appreciation of how the most biased sources illuminate the lives of children through the ages.

Rare Historical Perspectives of Childhood in Africa

Beginning in the fourteenth century, "outsider" accounts of sub-Saharan families started to reach wider audiences, offering snapshots that contradicted the images of children's static nightmare existence. In such narratives boys and girls exercised agency, defying notions that they were helpless in the grim tide of history. Even scornful European observers portrayed African children as showing assertiveness or human potential. These eclectic writings, generated by travelers, merchants, missionaries, and colonists, are encumbered by ethnocentrism or, even worse, racist ridicule. Yet on a continent steeped in oral tradition, they also provide rare details of how some adults in Africa perceived childhood, and of how African children influenced governing institutions, sexual mores, environmental sustainability, and religious and political debates.

For example, the trip diary of one fourteenth-century Arab trader, Ibn Batutta, lauded boys in the courts of Mali and Kilwa. They cleverly learned the Qur'an, Ibn Batutta remarked, before assuming posts in Islamic administrations. But he criticized noble girls for sauntering naked in the presence of Muslim suitors. Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, Europeans buying slaves from central and southern Africa noted in shipping logs that drought had periodically ruined crops, compelling children orphaned by famine to sell infant siblings for grain. Nineteenth-century white missionaries wrote letters home that criticized "hea-then" girls on the "Dark Continent" for entering into polygamous marriages and obstructing the spread of Christianity.

In the early 1900s white supremacists justified their subordination of the African "heathen" by asserting they merely ruled over the black "tribal" child. Their ideas, popularized by eugenicists such as Dudley Kidd in Savage Childhood, depicted Africans as happy primitives whose development peaked at puberty. Kidd's thesis underpinned a central premise of European rule in Africa, expressed by a British colonial report published in South Africa in 1907: "The treatment of Natives in general must be of an autocratic nature [as the] masses are scarcely out of their childhood.Natives are, in a sense, but children, and should not only be protected from the inherent weaknesses of undeveloped humanity, but guided through the shoals [of] the transition stage" (Colony of Natal Report, 11, 12).

The Rise of Scholarship on African Childhood

From the 1920s through the 1960s, anthropologists (and a few missionaries) rejected the pseudoscientific racism permeating colonial administration and instead fostered critical scholarly interest in African childhood. Contrary to Kidd, they recognized Africans as fully realized adults who arrived at maturity in customary ways. For example, the anthropologists Henry Junod, Daryll Forde, and Hilda Kuper conducted fieldwork on rites of passage, marriage, and childrearing in sub-Saharan communities, while Monica Wilson (among others) distinguished between adult attitudes towards children and the children's own viewpoints. Their findings demonstrated variations between childhoods in precolonial periods (prenineteenth century) and the colonial era (nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries). From the 1970s onwards, more and more historians adopted anthropological methods and gender analyses to gauge how colonialism and capitalism affected African families, particularly mothers and their offspring.

In the 1980s, research on African childhood gathered momentum with the publication of Maidens, Meals, and Money, Claude Meillassoux's anthropological investigations into sub-Saharan relationships between elders and youths. Like Philippe Ariès's Centuries of Childhood, a milestone in historical explorations of family and childhood in the West, Meillaissoux's book developed a bold paradigm that outlined distinct age transitions in "precapitalist" domestic settings from agricultural villages to preindustrial states fused by world religion and international trade. Unlike Ariès, Meillassoux downplayed certain questions, such as: When did adults reckon that children succumbed to "original sin"? or When did parents turn childhood into a stage of indulging innocent individuals?

In sub-Saharan regions, rulers and commoners alike, from the Iron Ages through the Middle Ages and into the twentieth century, understood the role of a child differently from their European counterparts (especially the elite monogamous parents Ariès studied). Rather than being cosseted treasures, African children were valued foremost for their obedient work in families and larger communities shaped by polygyny. Meillassoux claimed that children were on the lowest rung of African society. They were part of a larger group of "juniors" that included subordinates with higher status than children, such as unmarried men and women and young wives. This age-based hierarchy rested on ideals of plural marriagea social system of reproduction sanctioned by "seniors," consisting of both male elders (patriarchs) and older mothers, who controlled the passage of "bridewealth" (cattle or other prestige goods) and brides between households.

Gerontocracy in African Society

A patriarch, or "Big Man," as the historian John Iliffe recently dubbed this figure, was the custodian of an assortment of wives, children, siblings, relations, and dependents. The "Big Man" household originated in equatorial forests and spread south of the Sahara at the start of the first millennium. e. Big Men and their families used Iron Age tools to clear land for agricultural and pastoral production, instituting polygyny to enlarge their labor force in villages, chiefdoms and, later, states. This pattern of social organization had taken root throughout the continent by 1000 c.e. in West Africa among Yoruba, Hausa, and Ibo communities; in central Africa among Kongo and Gisu peoples; in southern Africa among Pondo, Zulu, and Sotho chiefdoms; and among eastern Africa's Somali, Kikuyu, and Chewa families.

The archetypal Big Man's family depended on unequal reciprocity and the work of juniors, principally his brood of children. Over a period of many years (determined by elders), children carried out tasks according to gender division and senior privilege. A father had rights to the labor of his wives and offspring; older wives had rights to the labor of younger wives and their daughters; young women had rights to the labor of their adolescent sisters; and so forth down the domestic pecking order.

Children understood that this generational hierarchy put older adults into positions of esteem. High-placed members of a household earned reverence for leading rites of passage, sealing marriages, and allocating resources. Unmarried sons and daughters were socialized to offer filial piety in return for the meansusually bridewealth for males and garden land for femalesto start their own domestic arrangements. Older children could garner assets (a critical first step before rising in stature) only after they met their responsibilities to elders and their web of kin. Personal accumulation fulfilled certain ambitions, but group belonging superseded individual aims.

As children gained in status, not all could become senior wives and patriarchsa situation that ignited generational struggles. When thwarted aspirations, natural catastrophe, or colonial rule burdened youths with additional heavy obligations, relationships of respect between the old and young could change dramatically. Indeed, examples from sub-Saharan folklore and archival evidence tell of juveniles avenging their exploitation by elders. One Chewa legend portrays children massacring adultsthe young rebels reacted to "toiling endlessly while their elders dined and dozed." A somewhat similar struggle occurred in the modern era. In colonial South Africa in 1906, shortly after a rinderpest epidemic decimated the region's cattle (which was used as bridewealth) and colonialists imposed a tax on single males, Zulu youths attacked their patriarchs for failing to forestall the ensuing hardship.

From Birth to Infancy

Perhaps the first lesson of life learned by the very young was that communal acceptance and nurturance could mean the difference between life and death. Virulent diseases stalked children. Malaria, gastroenteritis, and respiratory infections, to name only a few, kept infant mortality high until the middle of the twentieth century, when the advent of modern medical treatments improved the health and life expectancy of newborns. The withholding of clan approval because of severe birth defects, or the arrival of twins, could also prompt infanticide, as these occurrences were considered a harbinger from ancestors that further troubles loomed. Moreover, the mother of a seriously disabled infant might be seen as suffering needlessly if she had to raise an enfeebled child, while a mother of twins might gravely weaken her capacity to survive if she simultaneously nursed two newborns.

Babies less than three years old were typically breast-fed and carried by their mother on the hip or back, with skin-to-skin contact and access to breast milk vital to building immunities. To guard against unforeseen handicaps and illnesses, infants underwent elaborate ceremonies directed by a paternal elder who could administer magical and herbal charms. These special rites strengthened the bonds between young children and their protective network, which included parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, siblings, cousins, spiritual founders long since passed, diviners, and unrelated guardians. Indeed, a baby's name could be chosen to honor her lifelong defenders from revered ancestors to a saint of the Roman Catholic Church (in the fifteenth-century Christian Kongo kingdom).

From Weaning to Puberty

Weaning could come with unforgiving suddenness. For example, some mothers in southern Africa daubed the sap of hot chilies on their nipples when toddlers reached their second or third year. Newly weaned children were expected to contribute almost immediately to domestic upkeep. They could be assigned to teach infant siblings proper conduct, which barred defiance, jealousy, dishonesty, and unjust violence, or they could impart morals through the recitation of proverbs, such as the Sotho expression: kgotso ke nala, (peace is prosperity).

As members of a specially recognized group, some youngsters also taught one another about gender and generational expectations. For example, in Ibo communities boys of the same age and village enrolled in an "age-set" to train to be married men. In twentieth-century Kenya, mission teachers divided Kikuyu children into single-sex school grades and taught them to model themselves on monogamous Christian husbands and wives. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, boys carrying out collective male tasks took their little brothers along to learn how to build huts and fences, forge metals, carve wood, weave fishnets, hunt game, drill for battle, and tend livestock. Similarly, girls instructed their younger sisters in female duties, such as fetching wood and water, making fires, preparing food, thatching huts, making pots, and cultivating crops. In addition, some African states utilized children to fulfill national obligations. Regents in the nineteenth-century Zulu kingdom enlisted regiments of boys to lug provisions during military campaigns and recruited girls to weed the gardens of the royal family.

Children's responsibilities, of course, became more onerous under coercive labor systems. Girls were taken into millenniums-old domestic slavery to serve an African master far from their natal kin. Males were kidnapped and shipped to New World plantations from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, leaving their younger brothers to fill the void. And twentieth-century European rulers compelled adolescents to travel to find colonial employment (as house servants and commercial farm hands, for example) that brought in money for their family's tax requirements.

Yet such adversity gives an unduly bleak and one-sided picture of African childhoods. Though slavery disfigured many African communities, it scarcely touched others. In parts of central and southern Africa, boys and girls generally lived without fear of raiders, enjoying unfettered play that affirmed family security. Their recreation with peers celebrated the nurturer-mother and warrior-father. Pondo girls, for example, transformed corncobs into dolls that they toted on their backs, while boys practiced defensive combat skills by tossing sticks at a branch set upright in the ground.

Even strenuous sacrifices could lead to exploration and benefit. Labor migration, for example, emboldened boys and girls, acquainting them with new cultural possibilities and an economic conduit through which to accumulate their own resources and accelerate their own ascent to seniority. Younger, working sons who bought their own bridewealth did not have to rely on their father's contribution, eroding the generational constraints that prolonged their junior subordination.

Adolescence and Initiation

As children in Africa approached puberty, their games and diversions revealed aspirations to come of age. Not surprisingly, sexual adventuring intensified during adolescence. Various conventions tightly regulated courting, and while romantic interludes could progress to intercourse, this act drew severe censure. The litany of fines and banishments for premarital pregnancy among Yoruba, Kongo, and Zulu people suggests that sexual transgressions occurred with disconcerting regularity. A girl accused of waywardness suffered particularly harsh and lasting punishments, while her male counterpart tended to receive only a firm slap on the wrist. Patriarchal prerogatives dictated this gender discrimination. In many polygynous sub-Saharan societies, a male elder's public pledge that a first-time bride retained her virginity often paved the way for her rites of passage and eventual wedding.

Rites of passage, honored enactments that brought childhood to a close, took place between the ages of twelve and eighteen. In precolonial and colonial times they could entail temporary seclusion from the community, removal of teeth and hair, tattooing, or body incisions. Some coming-of-age ceremonies for boys (that continue to this day) focused on the painful cutting of genitalia, imparting an essential message: achieving adulthood necessitated a sharp separation from childhood and a heightened awareness of the physical and emotional endurance underlying the ancestral commitment to procreate after marriage. At times, initiation practices atrophied, such as when colonial authorities in eastern Africa campaigned to make tribal circumcision a crime; when Xhosa migrants living in congested townships of modern Johannesburg had little space to conduct their rituals; or when precolonial leaders such as Shaka Zulu forbade boys' circumcision and replaced it with two decades of military service to the king.

Girls also underwent circumcision (performed principally by their mothers and grandmothers), but this observance was not widespread in Africa and declined in the twentieth century after missionaries, colonialists, and modernizing African leaders urged its banning. However, toward the end of the twentieth century, female circumcision has apparently been revived in western and eastern Africa. Human rights campaigners have targeted the practice as cruel and unusual punishment, calling it "genital mutilation."

Other rites of passage for girls involved less invasive procedures, such as the cleansing of limbs with sacred liquid (i.e., the gall of livestock) and "coming out" feasts and dances that heralded the female initiates' ascent to a marriageable status. After initiation, boys and girls understood that they maneuvered in a society still dominated by elder authority, but one that was now open to their membership as potential seniors, with the enhanced privileges and responsibilities of young adults.

Conclusion

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, two intriguing questions are being explored: (1) Does childhood end at initiation or linger into young adulthood, a liminal stage before marriage and parenthood? and (2) Does childhood begin at birth, weaning, or some other phase before rites of passage? On a continent so vast, with few records (oral traditions far outweigh the keeping of documents), wide social diversity (myriad ethnic groups), and remarkable continuities (e.g., prevalence of "Big Man" families), the main concern is to devise a framework through which to examine variations in children's roles. To date, Meillassoux's model offers a crucial starting point, but like Ariès's ideas, it too will spark more debates than answers. The conceptual approaches that promise to emerge from these discussions will doubtless advance nascent scholarship on the history of childhood in Africa.

See also: Abduction in Modern Africa; Female Genital Mutiliation; Globalization; Soldier Children.

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Benedict Carton

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Africa

Africa

From the perspective of geologists and paleontologists, Africa takes center stage in the physical history and development of life on Earth. Africa is the world's second largest continent. Africa possesses the world's richest and most concentrated deposits of minerals such as gold, diamonds, uranium, chromium, cobalt, and platinum. It is also the cradle of human evolution and the birthplace of many animal and plant species, and has the earliest evidence of reptiles, dinosaurs, and mammals.

Present-day Africa, occupying one-fifth of Earth's land surface, is the central remnant of the ancient southern super-continent called Gondwanaland, a landmass once made up of South America , Australia , Antarctica , India, and Africa. This massive supercontinent broke apart between 195 million and 135 million years ago, cleaved by the same geological forces that continue to transform Earth's crust today.

Plate tectonics are responsible for the rise of mountain ranges, the gradual drift of continents, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions . The fracturing of Gondwanaland took place during the Jurassic Period , the middle segment of the Mesozoic Era when dinosaurs flourished on Earth. It was during the Jurassic that flowers made their first appearance, and dinosaurs like the carnivorous Allosaurus and plant eating Stegasaurus lived.

Geologically, Africa is 3.8 billion years old, which means that in its present form or joined with other continents as it was in the past, Africa has existed for four-fifths of Earth's 4.6 billion years. Africa's age and geological continuity are unique among continents. Structurally, Africa is composed of five cratons (structurally stable, undeformed regions of Earth's crust). These cratons, in south, central, and west Africa are mostly igneous granite , gneiss , and basalt , and formed separately between 3.6 and 2 billion years ago, during the Precambrian Era.

The Precambrian, an era which comprises more than 85% of the planet's history, was when life first evolved and the earth's atmosphere and continents developed. Geochemical analysis of undisturbed African rocks dating back 2 billion years has enabled paleoclimatologists to determine that Earth's atmosphere contained much higher levels of oxygen than today.

Africa, like other continents, "floats" on a plastic layer of Earth's upper mantle called the asthenosphere . The overlying rigid crust or lithosphere can be as thick as 150 mi (240 km) or under 10 mi (16 km), depending on location. The continent of Africa sits on the African plate, a section of the earth's crust bounded by mid-oceanic ridges in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans . The entire plate is creeping slowly toward the northwest at a rate of about 0.75 in (2 cm) per year.

The African plate is also spreading or moving outward in all directions, and therefore Africa is growing in size. Geologists state that sometime in the next 50 million years, East Africa will split off from the rest of the continent along the East African rift which stretches 4,000 mi (6,400 km) from the Red Sea in the north to Mozambique in the south.

Considering its vast size, Africa has few extensive mountain ranges and fewer high peaks than any other continent. The major ranges are the Atlas Mountains along the northwest coast and the Cape ranges in South Africa. Lowland plains are also less common than on other continents.

Geologists characterize Africa's topography as an assemblage of swells and basins. Swells are rock strata warped upward by heat and pressure, while basins are masses of lower lying crustal surfaces between swells. The swells are highest in East and central West Africa where they are capped by volcanic flows originating from the seismically active East African rift system. The continent can be visualized as an uneven tilted plateau, one that slants down toward the north and east from higher elevations in the west and south.

During much of the Cretaceous Period , from 130 million to 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs like tyrannosaurus, brontosaurus, and triceratops walked the earth, Africa's coastal areas and most of the Sahara Desert were submerged underwater. Global warming during the Cretaceous Period melted polar ice and caused ocean levels to rise. Oceanic organic sediments from this period were transformed into the petroleum and natural gas deposits now exploited by Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, and Gabon. Today, oil and natural gas drilling is conducted both on land and offshore on the continental shelf .

The continent's considerable geological age has allowed more than enough time for widespread and repeated erosion , yielding soils leached of organic nutrients but rich in iron and aluminum oxides. Such soils are high in mineral deposits such as bauxite (aluminum ore), manganese, iron, and gold, but they are very poor for agriculture. Nutrient-poor soil , along with deforestation and desertification (expansion of deserts) are just some of the daunting challenges facing African agriculture in modern times.

The most distinctive and dramatic geological feature in Africa is undoubtedly the East African rift system. The rift opened up in the Tertiary Period , approximately 65 million years ago, shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct. The same tectonic forces that formed the rift valley and which threaten to eventually split East Africa from the rest of the continent have caused the northeast drifting of the Arabian plate, the opening of the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, and the volcanic uplifting of Africa's highest peaks including its highest, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Mount Kibo, the higher of Kilimanjaro's two peaks, soars 19,320 ft (5,796 m) and is permanently snowcapped despite its location near the equator.

Both Kilimanjaro and Africa's second highest peak, Mount Kenya (17,058 ft; 5,117 m) sitting astride the equator, are actually composite volcanos, part of the vast volcanic field associated with the East African rift valley. The rift valley is also punctuated by a string of lakes , the deepest being Lake Tanganyika with a maximum depth of 4,708 ft (1,412 m). Only Lake Baikal in Eastern Russia is deeper at 5,712 ft (1,714 m).

Seismically, the rift valley is very much alive. Lava flows and volcanic eruptions occur about once a decade in the Virunga Mountains north of Lake Kivu along the western stretch of the rift valley. One volcano in the Virunga area in eastern Zaire which borders Rwanda and Uganda actually dammed a portion of the valley formerly drained by a tributary of the Nile River, forming Lake Kivu as a result.

On its northern reach, the 4,000-mi (6,400-km) long rift valley separates Africa from Asia . The rift's eastern arm can be traced from the Gulf of Aqaba separating Arabia from the Sinai Peninsula, down along the Red Sea, which divides Africa from Arabia. The East African rift's grabens (basins of crust bounded by fault lines) stretch through the extensive highlands of central Ethiopia which range up to 15,000 ft (4,500 m) and then along the Awash River. Proceeding south, the rift valley is dotted by a series of small lakes from Lake Azai to Lake Abaya and then into Kenya by way of Lake Turkana.

Slicing through Kenya, the rift's grabens are studded by another series of small lakes from Lake Baringo to Lake Magadi. The valley's trough or basin is disguised by layers of volcanic ash and other sediments as it threads through Tanzania via Lake Natron. However, the rift can be clearly discerned again in the elongated shape of Lake Malawi and the Shire River Valley, where it finally terminates along the lower Zambezi River and the Indian Ocean near Beira in Mozambique.

The rift valley also has a western arm which begins north of Lake Mobutu along the Zaire-Uganda border and continues to Lake Edward. It then curves south along Zaire's eastern borders forming that country's boundaries with Burundi as it passes through Lake Kivu and Tanzania by way of Lake Tanganyika.

The rift's western arm then extends toward Lake Nysasa (Lake Malawi). Shallow but vast, Lake Victoria sits in a trough between the rift's two arms. Although the surface altitude of the rift valley lakes like Nyasa and Tanganyika are hundreds of feet above sea level, their floors are hundreds of feet below due to their great depths.

The eastern arm of the rift valley is much more active than the western branch, volcanically and seismically. There are more volcanic eruptions in the crust of the eastern arm with intrusions of magma (subterranean molten rock) in the middle and lower crustal depths. Geologists consider the geological forces driving the eastern arm to be those associated with the origin of the entire rift valley and deem the eastern arm to be the older of the two.

It was in the great African rift valley that hominids, or human ancestors, arose. Hominid fossils of the genus Australopithicus dating 34 million years ago have been unearthed in Ethiopia and Tanzania. And the remains of a more direct ancestor of man, Homo erectus, who was using fire 500,000 years ago, have been found in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania as well as in Morocco, Algeria, and Chad.

Paleontologists, who study fossil remains, employ radioisotope dating techniques to determine the age of hominid and other species' fossil remains. This technique measures the decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes like carbon and argon to determine a fossil's age. This is based on the radioscope's atomic half-life , or the time required for half of a sample of a radioisotope to undergo radioactive decay. Dating is typically done on volcanic ash layers and charred wood associated with hominid fossils rather than the fossils themselves, which usually do not contain significant amounts of radioactive isotopes.

Present-day volcanic activity in Africa is centered in and around the East African rift valley. Volcanoes are found in Tanzania at Oldoinyo Lengai and in the Virunga range on the Zaire-Uganda border at Nyamlagira and Nyiragongo. There is also volcanism in West Africa. Mount Cameroon (13,350 ft; 4,005 m) along with smaller volcanos in its vicinity, stand on the bend of Africa's West Coast in the Gulf of Guinea, and are the exception. They are the only active volcanoes on the African mainland not in the rift valley.

However, extinct volcanoes and evidence of their activity are widespread on the continent. The Ahaggar Mountains in the central Sahara contain more than 300 volcanic necks that rise above their surroundings in vertical columns of 1,000 ft or more. Also, in the central Sahara, several hundred miles to the east in the Tibesti Mountains, there exist huge volcanic craters or calderas. The Trou au Natron is 5 mi (8 km) wide and over 3,000 ft (900 m) deep. In the rift valley, the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, surrounded by teeming wildlife and spectacular scenery, is a popular tourist attraction. Volcanism formed the diamonds found in South Africa and Zaire. The Kimberly diamond mine in South Africa is actually an ancient volcanic neck.

The only folded mountains in Africa are found at the northern and southern reaches of the continent. Folded mountains result from the deformation and uplift of the earth's crust, followed by deep erosion. Over millions of years this process built ranges like the Atlas Mountains, which stretch from Morocco to Algeria and Tunisia.

Geologically, the Atlas Mountains are the southern tangent of the European Alps, geographically separated by the Strait of Gibraltar in the west and the Strait of Sicily in the east. The Atlas are strung across northwest Africa in three parallel arrays; the coastal, central, and Saharan ranges. By trapping moisture, the Atlas Mountains carve out an oasis along a strip of northwest Africa compared with the dry and inhospitable Sahara Desert just to the south.

The Atlas Mountains are relatively complex folded mountains featuring horizontal thrust faults and ancient crystalline cores. On the other hand, the Cape ranges are older, simpler structures, analogous in age and erosion to the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. The Cape ranges rise in a series of steps from the ocean to the interior, flattening out in plateaus and rising again to the next ripple of mountains.

For a continent of its size, Africa has very few islands lying off its coast. The major Mediterranean islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, and Cyprus owe their origins to the events that formed Europe's Alps, and are a part of the Eurasian plate, not Africa. Islands lying off Africa's Atlantic Coast like the Canaries, Azores, and even the Cape Verde Islands near North Africa are considered Atlantic structures. Two islands in the middle of the South Atlantic, Ascension and St. Helena, also belong to the Atlantic. Islands belonging to Equatorial Guinea as well as the island country of Sao Tome and Principe at the sharp bend of Africa off of Cameroon and Gabon are related to volcanic peaks of the Cameroon Mountains, the principal one being Mount Cameroon.

Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island after Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo, is a geological part of ancient Gondwanaland. The island's eastern two-thirds are composed of crystalline igneous rocks , while the western third is largely sedimentary. Although volcanism is now quiescent on the island, vast lava flows indicate widespread past volcanic activity. Madagascar's unique plant and animal species testify to the island's long separation from the mainland.

Marine fossils, notably tribolites dating from the Cambrian Period (505570 million years ago; the first period of the Paleozoic Era ) have been found in southern Morocco and Mauritania. Rocks from the succeeding period, the Ordovician (500425 million years ago) consist of sandstones with a variety of fossilized marine organisms; these rocks occur throughout northern and western Africa, including the Sahara.

The Ordovician Period was characterized by the development of brachiopods (shellfish similar to clams), corals, starfish, and some organisms that have no modern counterparts, called sea scorpions, conodonts, and graptolites. At the same time, the African crust was extensively deformed. The continental table of the central and western Sahara was lifted up almost a mile (1.6 km). The uplifting alternated with crustal subsidings, forming valleys that were periodically flooded.

During the Ordovician Period , Africa, then part of Gondwanaland, was situated in the southern hemisphere on or near the South Pole. It was toward the end of this period that huge glaciers formed across the present-day Sahara and the valleys were filled by sandstone and glacial deposits. Although Africa today sits astride the tropics, it was once the theater of the Earth's most spectacular glacial activity. In the next period, the Silurian (425395 million years ago), further marine sediments were deposited.

The Silurian was followed by the Devonian, Mississippian, and Pennsylvanian Periods (408286 million years ago), the time interval when insects, reptiles, amphibians, and forests first appeared. A continental collision between Africa (Gondwanaland) and the North American plate formed a super-supercontinent (Pangaea) and raised the ancient Mauritanide mountain chain that once stretched from Morocco to Senegal. During the late Pennsylvanian Period , layer upon layer of fossilized plants were deposited, forming seams of coal in Morocco and Algeria.

When Pangaea and later Gondwanaland split apart in the Cretaceous Period (14466 million years ago), a shallow sea covered much of the northern Sahara and Egypt as far south as the Sudan. Arabia, subjected to many of the same geological and climatic influences as northern Africa, was thrust northward by tectonic movements at the end of the Oligocene and beginning of the Miocene Epochs (around 30 million years ago). During the Oligocene and Miocene (535 million years ago; segments of the modern Cenozoic Era ) bears, monkeys, deer, pigs, dolphins, and early apes first appeared.

Arabia at this time nearly broke away from Africa. The Mediterranean swept into the resulting rift, forming a gulf that was plugged by an isthmus at present-day Aden on the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti near Ethiopia. This gulf had the exact opposite configuration of today's Red Sea, which is filled by waters of the Indian Ocean.

As the Miocene Epoch ended about five million years ago, the isthmus of Suez was formed and the gulf (today's Red Sea) became a saline (salty) lake. During the Pliocene (1.65 million years ago) the Djibouti-Aden isthmus subsided, permitting the Indian Ocean to flow into the rift that is now the Red Sea.

In the Pleistocene Epoch (11,0001.6 million years ago), the Sahara was subjected to humid and then to dry and arid phases, spreading the Sahara desert into adjacent forests and green areas. About 5,0006,000 years ago in the post glacial period of the modern epoch, the Holocene, a further succession of dry and humid stages, further promoted desertification in the Sahara as well as the Kalahari in southern Africa.

Earth scientists state the expansion of the Sahara is still very much in evidence today, causing the desertification of farm and grazing land and presenting the omnipresent specter of famine in the Sahel (Saharan) region.

Africa has the world's richest concentration of minerals and gems. In South Africa, the Bushveld Complex, one of the largest masses of igneous rock on Earth, contains major deposits of strategic metals such as platinum, chromium, and vanadiummetals that are indispensable in tool making and high tech industrial processes. The Bushveld complex is about 2 billion years old.

Another spectacular intrusion of magmatic rocks composed of olivine , augite, and hypersthene occurred in the Archean Eon over 2.5 billion years ago in Zimbabwe. Called the Great Dyke, it contains substantial deposits of chromium, asbestos, and nickel. Almost all of the world's chromium reserves are found in Africa. Chromium is used to harden alloys, to produce stainless steels, as an industrial catalyst, and to provide corrosion resistance.

Unique eruptions that occurred during the Cretaceous in southern and central Africa formed kimberlite pipesvertical, near-cylindrical rock bodies caused by deep melting in the upper mantle. Kimberlite pipes are the main source of gem and industrial diamonds in Africa. Africa contains 40% of the world's diamond reserves, which occur in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and Zaire.

In South Africa, uranium is found side-by-side with gold, thus decreasing costs of production. Uranium deposits are also found in Niger, Gabon, Zaire, and Namibia. South Africa alone contains half the world's gold reserves. Mineral deposits of gold also occur in Zimbabwe, Zaire, and Ghana. Alluvial gold (eroded from soils and rock strata by rivers ) can be found in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, and Gabon.

As for other minerals, half of the world's cobalt is in Zaire and a continuation into Zimbabwe of Zairian cobalt-bearing geological formations gives the former country sizable reserves of cobalt as well. One quarter of the world's aluminum ore is found in a coastal belt of West Africa stretching 1,200 mi (1,920 km) from Guinea to Togo, with the largest reserves in Guinea.

Major coal deposits exist in southern Africa, North Africa, Zaire, and Nigeria. North Africa is awash in petroleum reserves, particularly in Libya, Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia. Nigeria is the biggest petroleum producer in West Africa, but Cameroon, Gabon, and the Congo also contain oil reserves. There are also petroleum reserves in southern Africa, chiefly in Angola.

Most of Africa's iron reserves are in western Africa, with the most significant deposits in and around Liberia, Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and Mauritania. In West Africa as well as in South Africa where iron deposits are also found, the ore is bound up in Precambrian rock strata.

Africa, like other continents, has been subjected to gyrating swings in climate during the Quartenary Period of the last 2 million years. These climatic changes have had dramatic affects on landforms and vegetation. Some of these cyclical changes may have been driven by cosmic or astronomical phenomena including asteroid and comet collisions.

But the impact of humankind upon the African environment has been radical and undeniable. Beginning 2,000 years ago and accelerating to the present day, African woodland belts have been deforested. Such environmental degradation has been exacerbated by overgrazing, agricultural abuse, and man-made changes, including possible global warming partially caused by the buildup of man-made carbon dioxide , chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and other greenhouse gases .

Deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion pose threats to Africa's man-made lakes and thereby Africa's hydroelectric capacity. Africa's multiplying and undernourished populations exert ever greater demands on irrigated agriculture, but the continent's water resources are increasingly taxed beyond their limits. To stabilize Africa's ecology and safeguard its resources and mineral wealth, many earth scientists argue that greater use must be made of sustainable agricultural and pastoral practices. Progress in environmental and resource management, as well as population control is also vital.

See also Earth (planet)

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Africa

AFRICA

(Note: The north of Africa, including the Sahara and the Sudan, has been Islamic territory for many centuries. For a discussion of Islamic magic and alchemy, see the entry Arabs. Instances of Arabic sorcery are also discussed in the Semites entry.)

Beliefs and practices thought of as occult in Western society were integral to the traditional tribal religions in the southern two-thirds of Africa, especially those concerning sympathetic magic, the cult of the dead, and witchcraft. During the history of this region, the basically pantheistic and polytheistic religions have also been cross-fertilized with Islamic and Christian teachings, creating new beliefs and modifying old ones. Today a large but undetermined number of Africans follow traditional beliefs involving deities, ghosts, and spirits as well as an array of special powers in nature presided over by the supreme entity adopted from Christianity and Islam. The latter, somewhat remote from everyday problems, is believed to largely operate on humans through the many other deities.

Southern Africa

Among the Zulu and other Bantu tribes of equatorial and southern Africa, witchcraft or malevolent sorcery was traditionally practicedin secret, for the results of detection were terrible. Tribes instituted a caste of witchfinders assigned the task of tracking down witches.

The nineteenth-century writer Lady Mary Anne Barker observed,

"It is not difficult to understand, bearing in mind the superstition and cruelty which existed in remote parts of England not so very long ago; how powerful such women become among a savage people, or how tempting an opportunity they could furnish of getting rid of an enemy. Of course they are exceptional individuals; more observant, more shrewd, and more dauntless than the average fat, hard-working Kaffir women, besides possessing the contradictory mixture of great physical powers and strong hysterical tendencies. They work themselves up to a pitch of frenzy, and get to believe as firmly in their own supernatural discernment as any individual among the trembling circle of Zulus to whom a touch from the whisk they carry is a sentence of instant death."

The Zulu witchfinders were attended by a circle of girls and women who, like a Greek chorus, clapped their hands and repeated a low chant, the measure and rhythm of which changed at times with a stomp and a swing of the arm. Ceremonial dress was also an important part of the witch doctor's role, for such things appealed directly to the imagination of the crowd and prepared onlookers to be readily swayed by the necromancer's devices. One of the witchfinders, Nozinyanga, was especially impressive. Her fierce face, spotted with gouts of red paint on cheek and brow, was partly overshadowed by a helmetlike plume of the tall feathers of the sakabula bird. In her right hand she carried a light sheaf of assegais (spears), and on her left arm was slung a small and pretty shield of dappled oxhide. Her petticoat, made of a couple of large handkerchiefs, was worn kiltwise. From neck to waist she was covered with bead-necklaces, goat's-hair fringes, and the scarlet tassels. Her chest rose and fell beneath the baldric of leopard skin, fastened across with huge brazen knobs, while down her back hung a beautifully dried and flattened skin of an enormous boa constrictor.

When the community had resolved that a certain misfortune was caused by witches, the next step was to find and punish them. For this purpose the king summoned a great meeting, his subjects sitting on the ground in a ring or circle for four or five days. The witchfinders took their places in the center, and as they gradually worked themselves up to an ecstatic state, resembling possession, they lightly switched with their quagga-tail one of the trembling spectators, who was immediately dragged away and butchered, along with all of his or her relatives and livestock. Sometimes a whole kraal was exterminated in this way, so reminiscent of European witch-hunts.

Barker also described a sorceress named Nozilwane, whose wistful glance, she noticed, had in it something uncanny and uncomfortable. She was dressed beautifully in lynx skins folded over and over from waist to knee, the upper part of her body covered by strings of wild beasts' teeth and fangs, beads, skeins of gaily colored yarn, strips of snakeskin, and fringes of Angora goat fleece. Lynx tails hung like lappets on each side of her face, which was overshadowed and almost hidden by a profusion of sakabula feathers. "This bird," Barker commented, "has a very beautiful plumage, and is sufficiently rare for the natives to attach a peculiar value and charm to the tail-feathers; they are like those of a young cock, curved and slender, and of a dark chestnut color, with a white eye at the extreme tip of each feather." Among all this thick, floating plumage were interspersed small bladders and skewers or pins wrought out of tusks. Like the other witchfinders, she wore her hair highly greased and twisted up with twine until it ceased to have the appearance of hair and hung around the face like a thick fringe, dyed deep red.

Bent double and with a catlike gait, Nozilwane came forward. Every movement of her undulating body kept time to the beat of the girls' hands and their low crooning chant. Soon she pretended to find the thing she sought, and with a series of wild pirouettes leaped into the air, shaking her spears and brandishing her shield like a bacchante. Nowamso, another of the party, was determined that her companion should not get all the applause, and she too, with a yell and a leap, sprang into the dance to the sound of louder grunts and harder handclaps. Nowamso was anxious to display her back, where a magnificent snakeskin, studded in a regular pattern with brass-headed nails, floated like a stream. She was attired also in a splendid kilt of leopard skins, decorated with red rosettes, and her dress was considered more careful and artistic than any of the others'. Nozilwane, however, had youth and stamina on her side. The others, although they all joined in and hunted out an imaginary enemy, and in turn exulted over his discovery, soon became breathless and spent and were glad when their attendants led them away to be anointed and to drink water.

Central Africa

The magical beliefs of central and eastern Africa were for the most part connected with beliefs and practices concerning the dead and the honoring of images. When the ghost of a dead person was weary of staying in the bush, many believed that the spirit would come for one of the people over whom they exerted the most influence. The spirit would say to that person, "I am tired of dwelling in the bush, please to build for me in the town a little house as close as possible to your own." The spirit would also instruct him to dance and sing, and accordingly he would assemble the women at night to join in dance and song.

Then, the next day, the people would go to the grave of the obambo, or ghost, and make a crude image, after which a bamboo bier, on which a body is conveyed to the grave, and some of the dust of the ground were carried into a little hut erected near the house of the visited, and a white cloth was draped over the door. A curious element of the ritual, which seems to show that these people had a legend something like the old Greek myth of Charon and the river Styx, was a song chanted during the ceremony with the following line: "You are well dressed, but you have no canoe to carry you across to the other side."

Possession

In most preindustrial cultures, epileptic diseases were assumed to be the result of demoniac possession. In much of Africa the sufferer was supposed to be possessed by Mbwiri, and the person was relieved only by the intervention of the medicine man (priest) or a spirit or deity. In the middle of the street a hut was built for the sufferer, and there he resided, along with the priest and his disciples, until cured, or maddened. Towns-people held a continuous revel, including what seemed like unending dances to the sound of flute and drum, for ten days to two weeks, engaging in much eating and drinking all at the expense of the patient's relatives.

The patient at some point danced, usually feigning madness, until the epileptic attack came on accompanied by a frenzied stare, convulsed limbs, the gnashing of teeth. The man's actions at this point were not ascribed to himself, but to the demon that had control of him. When a cure, real or pretended, had been effected the patient built a little house for the spirit image, avoided certain kinds of food, and performed certain duties. Sometimes the process terminated in the patient's insanity; some were known to run away to the bush, hide from all human beings, and live on the roots and berries of the forest.

One European writer observed of the tribal medicine man, "[They] are priest doctors, like those of the ancient Germans. They have a profound knowledge of herbs, and also of human nature, for they always monopolise the real power in the state. But it is very doubtful whether they possess any secrets save that of extracting virtue and poison from plants. During the first trip which I made into the bush I sent for one of these doctors. At that time I was staying among the Shekani, who are celebrated for their fetish [image]. He came attended by half-a-dozen disciples. He was a tall man dressed in white, with a girdle of leopard's skin, from which hung an iron bell, of the same shape as our sheep bells. He had two chalk marks over his eyes. I took some of my own hair, frizzled it with a burning glass, and gave it to him. He popped it with alacrity into his little grass bag; for white man's hair is fetish of the first order. Then I poured out some raspberry vinegar into a glass, drank a little of it first, country fashion, and offered it to him, telling him that it was blood from the brains of great doctors. Upon this he received it with great reverence, and dipping his fingers into it as if it was snap-dragon, sprinkled with it his fore-head, both feet between the two first toes, and the ground behind his back. He then handed his glass to a disciple, who emptied it, and smacked his lips afterwards in a very secular manner. I then desired to see a little of his fetish. He drew on the ground with red chalk some hieroglyphics, among which I distinguished the circle, the cross, and the crescent. He said that if I would give him a fine 'dush,' he would tell me about it. But as he would not take anything in reason, and as I knew that he would tell me nothing of very great importance in public, negotiations were suspended."

The claims of the priest to possess supernatural powers were seldom questioned. He was not only a doctor and a priest who intervened with the spirits and deitiestwo capacities in which his influence was necessarily very powerfulhe was also a witchfinder, and this office invested him with a truly formidable authority. When a man of worth died, his death was invariably ascribed to witchcraft, and the aid of the priest was invoked to discover the witch.

When a man was sick a long time, his neighbors called Ngembi, and if she could not make him well, they called the priest. He came at night, in a white dress, with cock's feathers on his head, carrying a bell and a little glass. He called two or three of the victim's relatives together. He did not speak, but always looked in his glass. Then he told them that the sickness was not of Mbwiri, nor of a ghost, nor of God, but that it came from a witch. They would say to him, "What shall we do?" He would then go out and say, "I have told you. I have no more to say." They then gave him a dollar's worth of cloth, and every night they gathered together in the street and cried, "I know that man who bewitched my brother. It is good for you to make him well." Then the witch made him well.

If the man did not recover they called the bush doctor from the Shekani country. At night he went into the street; all the people flocked about him. With a tiger skin in his hand, he walked to and fro, until, singing all the while, he laid the tiger skin at the feet of the witch. At the conclusion of his song the people seized the witch and put him or her in chains, saying, "If you don't restore our brother to health, we will kill you."

Western Occultism in Africa

Today more than 100 million Africans follow a form of Islamic faith, and an almost equal number some form of Christianity. In addition to Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths, there are many variant forms of Christianity, and many Christian groups have become independent of the older missionary churches and reorganized as indigenous religious bodies. The religious picture has been confused in recent years as a result of the unrest attending the throwing off of colonial regimes and the establishment of autonomous governments. Another important factor in the changes surfacing on the entire continent, in addition to political reform and upheaval, has been the education of many young Africans at American and European universities. As they travel back to Africa with western ideas and the seeds for a new way of economic survival, the scene is likely to change on all frontseven regarding their own ancient superstitions and folk legends.

In the midst of these changes, Western occult, metaphysical, and mystical literature has circulated through the continent since the 1920s, especially in South Africa, the central African states, and such West African nations as Ghana and Nigeria. Since World War II there has been a noticeable popular response to such ideas. As early as 1925 the Rosicrucians were present in West Africa, and New Thought was introduced into Africa in the 1930s when several American teachers toured the country and assisted in the formation of the School of Practical Christianity in 1937 (now known as the School of Truth). Today a broad range of such groups as the Church of Religious Science, the Unity School of Christianity, Swedenborgians, and the Church Universal and Triumphant are in existence. In the last two decades, guru-oriented groups such as ECKANKAR, Subud, and the Grail Movement, and some of the new Japanese religions have appeared. Numerous gurus, including Maharishi Mehesh Yogi, Satya Sai Baba, and Guru Maharaj Ji have a following. The New Age movement has been particularly strong in South Africa, mostly among the white population, and has provoked the appearance of a reactionary anti-New Age effort.

Most interesting has been the emergence of new indigenous African metaphysical movements. Typical of these are the Spiritual Fellowship and the Esom Fraternity Company, both operating in Nigeria. The latter, for example, has established a training school specializing in the healing arts and sciences and what is called a "cosmic hospital." The Spiritual Fellowship grew out of the literary efforts of A. Peter Akpan, who has developed an eclectic program of spiritual development aimed at attaining the higher levels of consciousness. Yogi Kane is a Hindu teacher operating in the Senegal, where he teaches what he terms "Egyptian" yoga. East and West come together in these new movements in a mutual affirmation of astrology, divination, spiritual healing, and an esoteric approach to life. These indigenous have also become an avenue for the advancement of women who often must assume a secondary role in traditional African religions as well as in Christianity and Islam.

Sources:

Gardiner, John. The New Age Cult in South Africa. Cape Town: Stuikhof, 1991.

Hackett, Rosalind I. J. "New Age Trends in Nigeria: Ancestral and or Alien Religion?" In Perspectives on the New Age, edited by James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

. Religion in Calabar: The Religious Life and History of a Nigerian Town. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1989.

Oosthuizen, Gehardus C. "The 'Newness' of the New Age in South Africa and Reactions to It." In Perspectives on the New Age, edited by James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

Parrinder, Geoffrey. African Traditional Religion. London: Sheldon Press, 1974. Reprint, New York: Harper, 1977.

Wellard, James. Lost Worlds of Africa. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1967.

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Africa

AFRICA

Portuguese colonial and trading ventures in Africa, whose beginning is conventionally dated from the conquest of Ceuta in 1415, continued with the gradual exploration of the Saharan and then West African Atlantic coastline from the mid-1430s to the mid-1480s. Having reached an early peak in the first three decades of the sixteenth century, the colonial enterprise stalled for the time being, as a result of defeats in Morocco and settlement setbacks in West Africa and Angola. The latter were partially offset, however, by the prosperity of the Cape Verde Islands and of São Tomé Island, as well as by commercial breakthroughs in West and East Africa. Subsequent economic stagnation, foreign competition, and the Dutch assaults and occupation of 16201648 helped to erode Portugal's African interests. New vigorous expansion followed, however, above all in Angola and Mozambique, from 1650 onward. Portuguese adventurers, entrepreneurs, and chartered companies maintained an important role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and in Indian Ocean commerce throughout the eighteenth century, and swings in the prosperity of Brazil and in the attendant demand for slaves visibly shaped the economic fortunes of the African colonies.

MOROCCO

Between 1415 and 1521, Portugal occupied six Moroccan coastal towns (Ceuta, 1415; Ksar as-Saghir, 1458; Arzilla and Tangier, 1471; Safi and Azemmur, 15071513), and built six new strategic forts along Morocco's Atlantic shore. Failing to tap into the trans-Saharan caravan trade, the outposts remained largely isolated, and maintaining them quickly became a serious burden. Following an era of neglect in the 1520s and 1530s, the outposts were repaired and new fortifications built by the early 1540s (particularly at Mazagan). A spirit of retrenchment nonetheless prevailed, and heavy losses between 1541 and 1550 reduced the Portuguese holdings to Ceuta, Tangier, and Mazagan. When Portugal reclaimed its independence from Spain in 1640, Ceuta pledged allegiance to Spain; Catherine of Bragança's marriage to Charles II gave Tangier to England in 1661; and Mazagan (modern El Jadida), a textbook early modern fortress town, surrendered to Morocco in 1769.

CAPE VERDE AND WEST AFRICA

Discovered around 1460, three of the Cape Verde Islands (Santiago, Fogo, and Maio) were quickly colonized and developed an economy buttressed by trade in slaves, cattle, salt, and dyestuffs. On the African mainland, a small fort was built at Arguim (Mauritania; c. 1450), but the key Portuguese footholds were the fort of São Jorge da Mina (Ghana; 1482), nearby Axim (1490s), and another outpost near Cabo das Redes (1500). A short-lived trading post was maintained at Ughoton (Benin) (14871507). An important seasonal station sprang up at the site of the native merchant fairs held at Kantor, on the upper Gambia River. Elsewhere, in Senegal, in Gambia, in the "Guinea Rivers" region, and farther on to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast, as well as in the Bight of Benin, the Portuguese traded intermittently, often from shipboard. African gold, slaves, ivory, civet, wax, and spicesmalaguetta (also known as "grains of paradise," the subtly pungent seeds of the West African plant Aframomum melegueta, belonging to the ginger family [Zingiberaceae]) and tailed pepper (the slightly bitter pungent seeds of so-called false cubeb pepper [Piper guinense or Piper clusii ])were exchanged for horses, European cloth, North African fabrics, Indian cottons, salt, hats, iron, brass, copper, and tin articles, beads, and cowrie shells.

Mismanagement, foreign interlopers (Spanish, French, English, and then the Dutch), policy failures, and African politics eroded trade profits after 1525. By the 1530s Arguim was in decline, and Mina's gold exports tapered off after 1550. Military penetration into the hinterland of Mina failed, as did projects to establish a full-scale colony in the 1570s and 1590s. Cape Verde experienced some prosperity, but viable local export production was limited to horses, the violet dyestuff orchil (obtained from local lichens), salt, maize, and cotton. In the 1600s, mainland trading posts between Mauritania and Sierra Leone came to depend more heavily on Cape Verde, and the Portuguese asserted themselves between the Casamance and Geba rivers. The Mina gold trade recovered in the early 1600s, but after 16181619 its decline was precipitous. In 16201641, the Portuguese forts in West Africa fell to the Dutch, Mina capitulating in 1637 and Arguim in 1638. The losses were never recovered.

In 16801706, trade between Cape Verde and the African mainland was controlled by the Company of Cape Verde and Cachéu, a privileged exporter of slaves to Spanish America. The English, however, established a stake in the island trade after 1706. From 1757 to 1786, chartered companies, notably the Company of Grão-Pará and Maranhão, once again dominated Cape Verde and the Guinea coast. Reforms brought the demise of the last donatory privileges and the creation of a new Captaincy General of Cape Verde. The authority of the captains, however, was curtailed by the power of the companies, and new trading stations replaced only partially those lost by 1641. The most conspicuous addition was the fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá (16771680) in Dahomey, which became a hub of the slave and ivory trade. Subordinate to the Captaincy of São Tomé, Ajudá was controlled by the Company of Cape Verde and Cachéu until 1706. Subsequently, exports of slaves to Brazil secured maintenance subsidies from Bahia for the Ajudá fort.

SAÕ TOMÉ AND PRÍNCIPE

Following the discovery of the islands of São Tomé, Ano Bom, and Príncipe (originally Santo Antão) in 14701471, effective settlement was undertaken in 14861510. The already inhabited island of Fernão do Pó, by contrast, resisted colonization. São Tomé, populated by Portuguese, free Africans, and baptized Jews sent out by the crown, quickly became a slaveholding society geared toward sugar production and the reexport of African slaves. By 1529, there were some sixty sugar mills on the island, but the heyday of sugar production was over by 1600, and internal unrest, Brazilian competition, sugarcane blight, and the emigration of planters to Brazil reduced São Tomé to dire straits by 1615. The island's role as a transit point for slaves also declined, and Dutch raids (from 1612 onward) culminated in the occupation of the island's strategic port in 16411644. Although sugar continued to be produced and the cultivation of ginger was attempted, by the 1670s São Tomé was only a modest hub of regional trade. Administrative reforms in 17531770 helped to improve conditions, but maintaining Portuguese control over all four islands was a burden. The treaties of San Ildefonso and El Pardo (17771778) ceded Fernão do Pó (now Fernando Póo) and Ano Bom (now Annobón) to Spain.

ANGOLA

Following a haphazard expansion of trade in the 1540s1560s, a doação, 'crown donation', of land south of the Kwanza River was made in 1571 to Paulo Dias de Novais. The first settlement was organized in Luanda Bay in 1575, and the colony quickly became involved in slaving (exporting c. 10,000 slaves in the 1570s). The failure to extract concessions from the kingdom of Ndongo led to a series of wars (15791590), which the colonists at first fought in alliance with King António I of Kongo. Demographic losses to disease and warfare were severe, however, and by 1590 exhaustion and defeats stalled the inland expansion. The crown assumed direct control of the colony.

In the 1600s, commerce replaced raids and warfare as a source of captives in the Luanda hinterland. As Portuguese military influence revived, permanent slave market networks stretched eastward (to the Kwango and the middle Kwanza rivers) and, in 1617, fresh conquests were launched from the new coastal outpost of Benguela in central Angola. Raids yielded cattle, sheep, and cheaper slaves than those exported through Luanda. The Dutch occupation of Luanda (16411648) partly isolated the colony from the remaining Portuguese Atlantic networks, but slaving continued, based on the (Portuguese) loyalist refuge of Massangano. The liberation of Luanda by the Brazilian fleet of Salvador Correia de Sá reaffirmed the ties between Angola and its main outlet for slaves, Brazil.

Thrusting from Benguela into central Angola's highlands, dominated by the recently formed Ovimbundu kingdoms of Imbangala warlords, the Portuguese reached the upper Katumbela River by the 1650s, and the Kunene River by c. 1720. Here too, raiding gradually yielded to organized trade in slaves, and in the 1770s many of the Ovimbundu warlords were replaced with merchant rulers. In the north, campaigns were fought in 1744 against the kingdom of Matamba. The liberalization of trade in 17551758 could not halt a relative decline during the Brazilian depression of the 1760s1770s, and attempts to stimulate settlement, agriculture, and manufacturing failed. The revival of Brazilian plantations in the 1780s and 1790s, however, brought the trade in slaves to a new high, and fresh sources of slaves were tapped by Portuguese, Luso-African, and Ovimbundu traders as far east as the sources of the Zambezi River.

MOZAMBIQUE

Initial cautious contacts with the Muslim seaside towns of Sofala (Mozambique), Mozambique, and Malindi (Kenya), were followed in 1505 by conquest, in spite of the hostility of Mombasa (Kenya) and Kilwa (Tanzania). The Portuguese then penetrated up the Zambezi River, establishing a trading post at Sena in 1531, and reaching Tete shortly thereafter. The magnet that drew them was the gold and imaginary silver of the Karanga empire of Mwene Matapa (south of the middle and upper Zambezi River) and of its southern outliers (Manica and Butua), as well as the ivory traded in these areas and in the Malawian realm of Kalonga. The military expeditions up the Zambezi and into Manica in the 1570s secured only mixed results, but by then tiny, yet tenacious, groups of Portuguese, Luso-African, and East Indian merchants had already scattered inland. Commerce shifted from Arab networks to Portuguese-dominated ones, with Portuguese India as the focal point and Goa as the administrative pivot.

At first hampered by ill-suited policies, the crown trade failed to prosper. Subsequently, corruption, smuggling, and lack of control over private traders made the Portuguese crown oscillate between direct administration and farming out all commerce to the entrepreneur Captains of Mozambique. Monopoly companies asserted themselves later on. By the 1650s, the inability of Mwene Matapa and Malawi to control dissident regions enticed Portuguese and other adventurers to become overlords or local protectors of large territories (prazos). At the same time, however, Arab resurgence in the north led to the loss of Mombasa and its dependencies, Pate (Kenya) and Zanzibar (lost in 1698, and then briefly recaptured and definitively lost in 17281729).

The heyday of the large prazos was over by c. 1730. Internecine warfare, the twists of African politics, and low production levels spelled their doom. Trade, tribute, and surface mining of gold, iron, and copper were by far the most lucrative activities. Despite state inducements and liberal reforms in 17551761, the much smaller, successor prazo estates of 17501800 never became effective producers of cash crops. The growth of the trade in slaves during the last decades of the eighteenth century, fueled by economic pressures, resurgent Brazilian demand, and the famines of 17921796 led to abuses that undermined the legitimacy and political stability of the prazos, initiating their decline.

See also Slavery and the Slave Trade .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Birmingham, David. Central Africa to 1870: Zambezia, Zaire and the South Atlantic. Cambridge, U.K., 1981.

Cook, Weston F. The Hundred Years War for Morocco: Gunpowder and the Military Revolution in the Early Modern Muslim World. Boulder, Colo., 1994.

Garfield, Robert. A History of São Tomé Island, 14701655: The Key to Guinea. San Francisco, 1992.

Isaacman, Allen F. Mozambique: The Africanization of a European Institution: The Zambezi Prazos, 17501902. Madison, Wis., 1972.

Newitt, Malyn. A History of Mozambique. London, 1995.

Parreira, Adriano T. The Kingdom of Angola and Iberian Interference, 14831643. Uppsala, 1985.

Vogt, John. Portuguese Rule on the Gold Coast, 14691682. Athens, Ga., 1979.

Martin Malcolm Elbl

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Africa

Africa

Africa is the world's second largest continent, encompassing an area of 11,677,240 square miles (30,244,051 square kilometers), including offshore islands. Recognized as the birthplace of the human race and of many other animal and plant species, it also possesses the world's richest and most concentrated deposits of minerals such as gold, diamonds, uranium, chromium, cobalt, and platinum.

Origin of Africa

Geologically, Africa is 3.8 billion years old (Earth is 4.6 billion years old). Present-day Africa, occupying one-fifth of Earth's land surface, is the central remnant of the ancient southern supercontinent called Gondwanaland, a landmass once made up of South America, Australia, Antarctica, India, and Africa. This massive supercontinent broke apart between 195 million and 135 million years ago, split by the same geological forcescontinental drifting, earthquakes, volcanosthat continue to transform Earth's crust today.

General features

Africa has fewer high peaks than any other continent and few extensive mountain ranges. The major ranges are the Atlas Mountains along the northwest coast and the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. The highest point on the continent is Kibo (19,340 feet/5,895 meters), a peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in northeast Tanzania. Despite its location near the equator, the peak is permanently snowcapped.

Geologists characterize Africa's topography (physical features) as a collection of swells and basins. Swells are layers of rock warped upward by Earth's internal heat and pressure. Basins are broad, lower-lying areas between swells. The continent can be visualized as an uneven tilted plateau, one that slants down toward the north and east. The swells are highest in East and central West Africa, where they are capped by volcanic flows originating from the Great Rift Valley.

Great Rift Valley

The most distinctive and dramatic geological feature in Africa is the Great Rift Valley. The rift opened up approximately 65 million years ago, shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct. It extends almost 3,000 miles (4,830 kilometers) from northern Syria down the eastern side of the African continent to central Mozambique. The ranges in elevation of the valley are great, from about 1,300 feet (395 meters) below sea level at the Dead Sea to over 6,000 feet (1,830 meters) above sea level in southern Kenya.

The Great Rift Valley has a western branch that begins north of Lake Albert (Lake Mobutu) along the Zaire-Uganda border. It then curves south along Zaire's eastern border, forming that country's boundary with Burundi. This branch is punctuated by a string of lakes, the deepest being Lake Tanganyika (on the boundary between Tanzania and Zaire), with a maximum depth of 4,710 feet (1,436 meters).

The rift valley is alive seismically, with much earthquake-related activity occurring. About once a decade lava flows and volcanic eruptions take place in the Virunga mountain range on the Zaire-Uganda border. The main or eastern branch of the rift valley experiences more volcanic and seismic activity than the western branch. Geologists consider the geological forces driving the main branch to be those associated with the origin of the entire rift valley and deem the main branch to be the older of the two.

Human evolution

Hominids, or human ancestors, arose in the Great Rift Valley. Paleontologists, scientists who study fossil remains, have unearthed in Ethiopia and Tanzania hominid fossils that have been dated from three to four million years old. Hominid remains have also been found in Morocco, Algeria, and Chad.

Volcanic activity outside the Great Rift Valley

Mount Cameroon, which stands 13,350 feet (4,005 meters), and a few smaller neighboring volcanos in Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea are the only active volcanos on the African mainland outside of the Great Rift Valley. However, extinct volcanos and evidence of their activity are widespread on the continent. The Ahaggar Mountains in the central Sahara Desert contain more than 300 volcanic necks, massive vertical columns of volcanic rock, that rise 1,000 feet (305 meters) or more. Also in the central Sahara, several hundred miles to the east in the Tibesti Mountains, there exist huge volcanic craters or calderas. In the Great Rift Valley, the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, surrounded by teeming wildlife and spectacular scenery, is a popular tourist attraction. Volcanism formed the diamonds found in South Africa and Zaire. The Kimberly diamond mine in South Africa is actually an ancient volcanic neck.

Origin of Sahara Desert

Between 1,600,000 and 11,000 years ago, the Sahara was subjected to humid and then to arid (dry) phases, causing it to spread into adjacent forests and green areas. About 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, further humid and arid phases promoted desertification (the transformation of arid or semiarid land into desert) in the Sahara as well as the Kalahari in southern Africa. Earth scientists say the expansion of the Sahara is still occurring today, with the desertification of farm and grazing land responsible for the spread of famine in the Sahel or Saharan region.

Words to Know

Basins: Broad, lower-lying areas between swells.

Deforestation: Total clearing of trees and other plants from forest areas.

Desertification: Transformation of arid or semiarid productive land into desert.

Gondwanaland: Ancient supercontinent that was made up of present-day Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, and India.

Swells: Layers of rock warped upward by Earth's internal heat and pressure.

Volcanic neck: A massive vertical column of volcanic rock, formed in the vent of a volcano, that has been exposed by erosion of the flanks of the volcano.

Minerals and resources

Africa holds the world's richest concentration of minerals and gems. In South Africa, the two-billion-year-old Bushveld Complex, one of Earth's largest masses of igneous rock (cooled and hardened molten rock), contains major deposits of metals such as platinum, chromium, and vanadium. These metals are indispensable in toolmaking and high-tech industrial processes. Almost all of the world's chromium reserves are found in Africa. Chromium is used to harden alloys (metal mixtures), to produce stainless steels, and to provide resistance to corrosion.

As for other minerals, one-half of the world's cobalt is in Zaire. Onequarter of the world's aluminum ore is found in a coastal belt of West Africa stretching 1,200 miles (1,920 kilometers) from Guinea to Togo, with the largest reserves in Guinea. Uranium deposits are found in South Africa, Niger, Gabon, Zaire, and Namibia. South Africa alone contains one-half the world's gold reserves. Mineral deposits of gold are also found in Zimbabwe, Zaire, and Ghana.

Kimberlite pipesvertical, near-cylindrical rock bodies caused by deep melting in the upper mantle of Earth's crustare the main source of gem and industrial diamonds in Africa. Africa contains 40 percent of

the world's diamond reserves, which are located in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and Zaire.

Major coal deposits exist across northern and southern Africa and in the central African countries of Zaire and Nigeria. Petroleum reserves are high in northern Africa, particularly in Libya, Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia. Nigeria is the biggest petroleum producer in West Africa, followed by Cameroon, Gabon, and the Congo. Angola contains the chief petroleum reserves in southern Africa.

Modern-day climatic and environmental factors

The impact of humankind upon the African environment has been far-reaching and undeniable. Beginning 2,000 years ago and accelerating to the present day, belts of African woodlands have been cleared of trees and other forest plants, a process known as deforestation. Such environmental destruction has been worsened by the overgrazing of animals and other agricultural abuses. Human-made climate changes, including possible global warming caused by the buildup of human-made carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and other greenhouse gases, have also damaged the environment.

Deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion pose threats to Africa's artificial lakes and, thereby, the continent's hydroelectric capacity, or ability to produce electricity with water power. Africa has limited water resources, and its multiplying and undernourished populations exert ever-greater demands on farmland that has to be irrigated. Many earth scientists say using more environmentally friendly farming techniques and practicing population control are vital to stabilizing Africa's ecology and protecting its resources and mineral wealth.

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Africa

Africa Second-largest continent (after Asia), straddling the Equator and lying largely within the tropics.

Land

Africa forms a plateau between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Its highest features include the Atlas mountains and Ahaggar mountains in the nw, the Ethiopian Highlands in the e, the Drakensberg mountains in the s, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Lake Assal in the Afar Depression of Djibouti is the lowest point at −153m (−502ft). The huge sunken strip in the e is the African section of the Great Rift Valley. The Sahara stretches across the n, while the Kalahari and Namib are smaller deserts in the s and sw. Madagascar lies off the se coast.

Structure and geology

Africa is composed largely of ancient metamorphic rocks overlain with tertiary Mesozoic and Palaeozoic sediments. The mountains of the nw are folded sedimentary material, roughly contemporaneous with the Alps. The Great Rift Valley, formed by the progressive movement of the Arabian Peninsula away from Africa, is mainly igneous in the n and older pre-Cambrian in the s.

Lakes and rivers

The Rift Valley contains lakes Albert, Malawi, and Tanganyika. Lake Victoria to the e is Africa's largest lake; Lake Chad which shrinks to a salt pan in dry periods, lies in the s Sahara. Rivers include the Nile, Niger, Congo, and Zambezi.

Climate and vegetation

Much of the continent is hot and (outside the desert areas) humid. The belt along the Equator receives more than 250cm (100in) of precipitation a year and is covered by tropical rainforest. The forest gives way both in the n and s to areas of acacia and brush, and then through savanna grassland to desert. The n strip of the continent and the area around the Cape have a Mediterranean climate.

Peoples

Africa is home to more than 13% of the world's population, divided into more than 700 culturally distinct tribes and groups. North of the Sahara Arabs and Berbers predominate, while to the s tribes include the Fulani, Galla, Hausa, Hottentots, Igbo, Masai, Mossi, San, Yoruba, and Zulu. Indians and Europeans also form significant minorities. Africa is relatively thinly populated and c.75% of the population is rural.

Economy

Agriculture is restricted in central Africa by the large expanse of tropical rainforest, although cash crops such as cocoa, rubber, and peanuts are grown on plantations. Along the n coast, crops such as citrus fruits, olives, and cereals are grown. The Sahara is largely unproductive, supporting only a nomadic herding community. East and s Africa are the richest agricultural areas. Apart from South Africa, the entire continent is industrially underdeveloped. Mining is the most important industry. Zambia has the world's largest deposits of copper ore. Bauxite is extracted in w Africa, and oil is produced in Nigeria, Libya, and Algeria. South Africa is extremely rich in minerals: gold, diamonds, and coal being the most important.

Recent History

Before the 1880s, Europeans were, except in South Africa, largely confined to the coastal regions. by the end of the 19th century, the whole continent, except for Liberia and Ethiopia, was under foreign domination either by European powers, or (in the n) by the Ottoman Empire. Starting in the 1950s, the colonies secured their independence within the space of 40 years, but this process of rapid decolonization brought unrest and instability to much of Africa. A major cause of unrest was (and continues to be) the artificial boundaries created by colonialism. Lasting democracy proved difficult to achieve in many countries and military rule is prevalent. Area: c.30 million sq km (11.7 million sq mi) Highest mountain Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) 5895m (19,340ft) Longest river Nile 6670km (4140mi) Population 812 million Largest cities Lagos (8,029,200); Cairo (6,789,489); Kinshasa (4,655,313); Alexandria (3,328,196); Casablanca (2,940,623); Algiers (2,561,992) See also articles on individual countries

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Africa

AFRICA

This entry includes four subentries:
Central Africa
East Africa
North Africa
West Africa

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Africa

AFRICA

This entry contains two subentries:

NORTH AFRICA SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

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Africa

Africabicker, clicker, dicker, flicker, kicker, liquor, nicker, picker, pricker, shicker, slicker, snicker, sticker, ticker, tricker, vicar, whicker, Wicca, wicker •bilker, milker, Rilke •blinker, clinker, drinker, finca, freethinker, Glinka, Inca, inker, jinker, shrinker, sinker, Soyinka, stinker, stotinka, thinker, tinker, Treblinka, winker •frisker, whisker •kibitka, Sitka •Cyrenaica • Bandaranaike •perestroika • Baedeker • melodica •Boudicca • trafficker • angelica •replica •basilica, silica •frolicker, maiolica, majolica •bootlicker • res publica • mimicker •Anneka • arnica • Seneca • Lineker •picnicker •electronica, harmonica, Honecker, japonica, Monica, moniker, Salonica, santonica, veronica •Guernica • Africa • paprika •America, erica •headshrinker • Armorica • brassica •Jessica • lip-syncer • fossicker •Corsica •Attica, hepatica, sciatica, viatica •Antarctica • billsticker •erotica, exotica •swastika

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Africa

AFRICA

The propinquity of the land of Israel to the African continent profoundly influenced the history of the Jewish people. Two of the patriarchs went down to *Egypt; the sojourn of the children of Israel in that land left an indelible impression on the history of their descendants; and the Exodus from Egypt and the theophany at Sinai, in the desert between Africa and Asia, marked the beginning of the specific history of the Hebrew people. Later, in the time of the judges and the monarchy, Palestine was periodically occupied by the Egyptian pharaohs, especially after Thutmose iii, in their attempts to extend their influence northward. Important Egyptian archaeological remains have been found throughout Ereẓ Israel, testifying to indubitable Egyptian influences in the background, literature, and language of the Bible. After the destruction of the First Temple in 586 b.c.e. some of the survivors took refuge in Egypt and the Jewish military colony at *Elephantine; ample records which survive from the Persian period seem to have originated at about this time. This settlement at Elephantine marked the beginning of the extension of Jewish influences toward the interior of the continent, and in all probability it was not the only colony of its kind.

Intensive Jewish settlement in Africa began after the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century b.c.e. For the next hundred years or more, Ereẓ Israel was intermittently under the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemies, alternating with the Syrian Seleucids; the country naturally gravitated toward Africa economically as well as politically. Moreover, in the course of their periodic campaigns north of the Sinai Peninsula the Ptolemies deported some elements of the local population to the central provinces of their empire, or brought there prisoners of war as slaves. According to ancient tradition, Alexander had specifically invited Jews to settle in his newly founded city of *Alexandria, and it is certain that early in its history they formed a considerable proportion of its population. Before long, Alexandria became a great center of Jewish

culture expressed in the Greek language and largely in terms of Greek civilization culminating in the *Septuagint translation of the Bible and in the allegorical writings of *Philo. It is significant that inscriptions found near Alexandria provide the earliest positive evidence of the existence of the synagogue as an institution. From Egypt the Jewish settlement spread westward along the North African coast reaching *Cyrene at least as early as the second century b.c.e. According to some scholars, Palestinian Hebrews had reached further west long before this, as early as the days of the First Temple, accompanying and helping the *Phoenicians in their expeditions and playing an important role in the establishment of the Punic colonies, including *Carthage itself. It is further suggested that these settlers had a considerable influence in the interior of Africa and were ultimately responsible for the vaguely Jewish ideas and practices that may still be discerned in certain areas. In any case, in the Roman imperial period there were Jewish settlements throughout the Roman provinces as far west as the Strait of Gibraltar. In some areas the Jewish colonies were of great numerical importance and were able to play an independent political role. In Egypt the friction between the Alexandrian Jewish colony and its neighbors was so marked that it developed into a perpetual problem and seems almost to have anticipated the 19th-century antisemitic movement. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 c.e, *Zealot or Sicarii fugitives from the Palestinian campaigns fled to Egypt, where they instigated a widespread revolt among the Jewish population. The rebels succeeded in dominating large stretches of the countryside, though they were unable to capture the fortified cities. A similar revolt on a smaller scale, about which less information has survived, seems to have occurred simultaneously in Cyrene.

Although swiftly subdued by the Romans, these outbursts were soon followed by the Great Revolt of 115–7 all along the North African coast, at least as far as Cyrene, as well as in Cyprus and Mesopotamia. This revolt, organized apparently by some directing spirit of real genius, momentarily achieved sweeping success, with the insurgents dominating Cyrene and large tracts of the Egyptian countryside. It was, however, bloodily suppressed, and the Jewish settlements in the area of revolt never fully recovered from this blow. When Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire, Judaism was at a further disadvantage. Force as well as blandishment was exerted against the Jews; there were bloody anti-Jewish riots in Alexandria, and the significance of North African Jewry for a time waned almost to vanishing point. When in the sixth century the Byzantines reoccupied the former Roman provinces of North Africa, organized Jewish life was systematically suppressed. On the other hand, Jewish influence during the preceding period had not been restricted to the coastal strip, or to persons of Jewish birth. There is some evidence that suggests conscious proselytizing efforts by the Jews in the African interior, or at least extensive imitation of Jewish rites and beliefs there. Traditions of Jewish origin and traces of Jewish practice are to be found among Berber tribes and black peoples well into the continent and it may well be that the *Beta Israel of Ethiopia survive as testimony to a proselytizing activity that once attained considerable proportions. The curious tales told in the ninth century by the Jewish traveler *Eldad ha-Dani of independent Jewish tribes apparently in the African interior, may be a romanticization of what he had actually seen and experienced. The Arab invasions of the seventh century seem to have found only very small scattered Jewish communities along the African coast. The story of the "Jewish" Berber queen Dahiya al-Kahina seems to be largely legendary although it may be that at that time a woman ruled over a Judaizing Berber tribe. After the Arab conquest these communities were revived and probably reinforced by new immigrants, mainly from Asia, who accompanied the Arab conquerors, or who came to take advantage of the new economic opportunities. The new communities were completely Arabized in language and social life; hardly an echo or trace of the previous Greco-Roman Jewish culture can be discerned among them. The newly founded city of Fostat (Old *Cairo) became the largest Jewish center in Egypt; further west *Kairouan in *Tunisia was of primary importance and, indeed, from the eighth to the 11th centuries was perhaps the greatest center of rabbinic culture outside Babylonia. The documents found in the Cairo Genizah make possible a reconstruction of the economic, social, and religious life of the Jews throughout this area in graphic detail. It is significant that in the ninth century *Saadiah Gaon, who may be credited with the revitalization of Jewish scholarship in Mesopotamia, was born, and apparently educated, in the Fayyum district of Egypt. The work of the physician and philosopher Isaac *Israeli, who lived in Kairouan, typified the contribution that the Jews of this area made to contemporary science.The condition of the Jews in Africa under Muslim rule was generally favorable, subject to the usual discriminatory provisions of the Islamic code, which were sporadically enforced; there was a surge of violent persecution in Egypt in the early 11th century, but it was an isolated episode. The triumph of the fanatical, unitarian *Almohad rulers in the 12th century proved disastrous to the Jews; the practice of Judaism was prohibited in *Morocco and the neighboring lands, and they were forcibly converted to Islam. The result was that for a long time Judaism could be observed only in clandestine circumstances. A considerable number of Jews, including the family of Moses *Maimonides, migrated east, making Egypt a major center of Jewish cultural life. After the Almohad domination ended, Jewish life in northwest Africa recovered slowly, but on a restricted and culturally retrograde scale. The wave of massacres and expulsions in Spain and the Balearic Islands in 1391 resulted in a large migration across the Strait of Gibraltar; first there were refugees from these onslaughts and later, on a larger scale, those who had been baptized by force and now desired to revert to Judaism. Thus, especially in the coastal towns of what was later called *Algeria, alongside the old established, quasi-native "Berber" communities, fresh "Spanish" colonies with their own rites and traditions and of a far higher cultural standard arose. The number of Spanish (and later Portuguese) fugitives reaching Africa, primarily Morocco, again increased after the expulsion from Spain in 1492. Their sufferings at the hands of marauders and rapacious local rulers were sometimes appalling. However, in the end they were able to adjust themselves, and henceforth a well-organized Spanish-speaking community, observing the religious regulations provided by "*takkanot of Castile," dominated Jewish life as far east as Algiers. Further along the Mediterranean coast and in the interior (exceptin the largest towns), the Spanish element was less significant.

The Jews generally continued to live under the universal Muslim code, in many places compulsorily confined to the Jewish quarter, their lives hemmed in by discriminatory regulations. They were often compelled to wear a distinctive garb, they had to show respect to Muslims in the street, and they were excluded from certain occupations. On the other hand they were at least allowed to reside at will, except in one or two "holy" cities such as Kairouan, and the periodic Christian incursions on the coastal towns frequently entailed disaster for them. In the ports especially, the Jews played an economic role of great importance, and, with their linguistic versatility, were the principal intermediaries for transactions with European merchants. Occasionally, Jews were dispatched as ambassadors or envoys to the European powers. Sometimes, a person of outstanding ability would become minister of finance or even vizier, wielding much influence until the disastrous fall which was generally in store for him, sometimes involving his coreligionists as a body.

This description characterizes the history of the Jews almost throughout the Barbary States from the 16th century until well into the 19th. Conditions were somewhat but not conspicuously better in the areas farther east, particularly in Egypt, especially after the establishment of Turkish rule at the beginning of the 16th century. It was only with the introduction of European influences, beginning in Algeria in 1830 and culminating in Morocco and Tripolitania after 1912, that the North African Jews were relieved to a great extent of their medieval status. Nevertheless, except in Egypt and some coastal towns, the process of modernization within the communities was slow. On the other hand, in the upper classes the outward occidentalization of the Jews in language and social life became very marked, while the French administration in Algeria formally recognized the Jews as a European element, the *Crémieux decree in 1870 giving Algerian Jews French nationality.

Meanwhile occidental Jews had established themselves in areas of European settlement at the southernmost tip of the African continent. Isolated settlers are recorded here in the early 19th century; a community largely of English origin was founded in *Cape Town in 1841, spreading from there to other places. The Kimberley diamond field, which opened in the 1860s, was a considerable stimulus to new settlement. With the discovery of gold in Transvaal in the 1880s many Jews emigrated there from Eastern Europe, founding important communities in and around *Johannesburg. After World War i, immigration, especially from Lithuania, assumed relatively large proportions, and the *South African Jewish community of some 100,000 was among the most affluent in the world. From South Africa the Jewish settlement spread northward into Rhodesia (*Zimbabwe), as soon as that territory was opened up in the 1890s. During the period between World War i and World War ii there was a Sephardi influx as well, mainly from Rhodes, which spread to the Belgian *Congo. There were also small European Jewish colonies in the British East African territories, joined by immigrants from Egypt and even Yemen.

The Vichy regime in France during World War ii brought a temporary setback in Jewish status in the French-dominated areas of North Africa and the revocation of the Crémieux decree. The subsequent Nazi military occupation had distressing, although not enduring, consequences. The European withdrawal from Africa after World War ii, coupled with economic changes in that continent, profoundly affected the Jewish communities, all the more so with the wave of anti-Jewish feeling that spread throughout the Arab world after the foundation of the State of Israel. A large portion of the Jewish community of Tunis and almost the whole Jewish community of Algeria left (mostly for France) when the French period of domination ended. The changed circumstances resulted in the migration also of the Jews of Egypt and Cyrenaica, in great part to Israel. Aliyah to Israel, immigration to France, and other countries also reduced the Jewish settlement in Morocco, numerically the largest in Africa, to one-fifth of its former number, approximately 50,000 in 1969; political conditions there did not deteriorate formally. The only part of the continent in which the Jewish communities did not initially diminish was South Africa, although gradually with the end of apartheid the community dropped significantly in numbers. By 2005 the community had fallen to about 75,000 with some 1,800 Jews a year emigrating to other countries largely because of the dramatic rise in violent crime.

The most remarkable example of Black Judaizing movements is to be found in South Africa and Zimbabwe among the *Lemba tribe, and there are similar movements throughout the continent which range from movements which depend on perceived shared origins – sometimes invoking the myth of the *Ten Lost Tribes of Israel – to movements of conversion such as the *Bayudaya in Uganda.

The establishment of the State of Israel brought a renewal of the movement to bring the *Beta Israel of Ethiopia into closer relations with world Jewry. The State of Israel also established cordial relations with the emergent African states, entering into diplomatic relations with them and sending economic, military, and agricultural experts to assist them in solving their problems (see *Israel, Historical Survey, Internal Aid and Cooperation). However, under pressure from the Arabs after the Yom Kippur War of 1973, 29 African countries broke off diplomatic relations with Israel, though in the course of the years, starting with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in 1982, most reestablished relations.

bibliography:

Bibliographies will be found under the individual countries. The following general works will be found useful: A. Cahen, Les Juifs dans l'Afrique septentrionale (1867); D. Cazès, Essai sur l'histoire des Israélites de Tunisie (1888); J. Chalom, Les Israélites de la Tunisie (1908); S. Mendelssohn, Jews of Africa (1920); N. Slouschz, Judéo-Hélénes et Judéo-Berbéres (1909); idem, Travels in North Africa (1927); G. Saron and L. Hotz, Jews in South Africa (1955); L. Herrmann, History of the Jews in South Africa (1930); J.J. Williams, Hebrewisms of West Africa: From Nile to Niger with the Jews (1930); M. Eisenbeth, Les Juifs de l'Afrique du Nord (1936); idem, Les Juifs au Maroc (1948); C. Martin, Les Israèlites Algériens de 1830 à 1902 (1936); A.N. Chouraqui, Between East and West (1968); Institut far Yidishe Inyonim, Di Yidishe Yeshuvim in di Arabishe Lender (1957); H.Z. Hirschberg, Me-EreMevo ha-Shemesh (1957); Hirschberg, Afrikah, 2 vols. (1965); idem, in: Journal of African History, 4 (1963), 313–39; M. Simon, Recherches d'histoire Judéo-Chrétienne (1962), 30–100; Monteil, in: Hesperis, 38 (1951), 265–98; M. Krein in, Israel and Africa: A Study in Technical Co-operation (1964); S.W. Baron, et al., in: jsos, 24 (1962), 67–107. add. bibliography: T. Parfitt, The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth (2002); idem, Journey to the Vanished City – The Search for a Lost Tribe of Israel (1999).

[Cecil Roth]

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Africa

Africa

Origin

Continental drift

General features

East African rift system

Human evolution

Volcanic activity

Folded mountains

Islands

Ocean inundations in North Africa

Glaciation

Tectonics in North Africa

Origin of the Sahara desert

Minerals and resources

Modern-day climate and environment

Resources

Africa is the worlds second-largest continent. It possesses the worlds richest and most concentrated deposits of minerals such as gold, diamonds, uranium, chromium, cobalt, and platinum. It is also the cradle of human evolution and the birthplace of many animal and plant species; it has the earliest fossil evidence of reptiles, dinosaurs, and mammals.

Origin

Present-day Africa, which occupies one-fifth of Earths land surface, is the central remnant of an ancient southern supercontinent called Gondwanaland, which once comprised South America, Australia, Antarctica, India, and Africa. This landmass broke apart between 195 and 135 million years ago, cleaved by plate tectonics, the force that continues to transform Earths crust today.

Gondwanaland broke apart during the Jurassic period, the middle segment of the Mesozoic era. It was during this time that flowers made their first appearance, and dinosaurs like the carnivorous Allosaurus and plant-eating Stegosaurus lived.

Geologically, Africa is 3.8 billion years old, which means that whether in its present form or joined with other continents, it has existed for four-fifths of Earths 4.6 billion years. The continents age and geological continuity are unique. It is composed of five cratons structurally stable, undeformed regions of Earths crustmostly igneous granite, gneiss, and basalt that formed separately between 3.6 and 2 billion years ago, during the Precambrian, when life first evolved and Earths atmosphere and continents developed.

Geochemical analysis of undisturbed African rocks dating back 2 billion years has enabled paleoclimatologists (scientists who study ancient climates) to determine that Earths atmosphere contained much higher levels of oxygen than today.

Continental drift

Africa, like other continents, floats on a plastic layer of Earths upper mantle called the astheno-sphere. The overlying rigid crust, or lithosphere, can be as thick as 150 miles (240 km) or less than 10 miles (16 km), depending on location. The continent sits on the African plate, a section of the crust bounded by mid-oceanic ridges in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The entire plate is creeping slowly toward the northwest at a rate of about 0.75 in (2 cm) per year.

The African plate continues to spread outward in all directions. Geologists say that sometime in the next 50 million years, East Africa will split off from the rest of the continent along the East African rift, which stretches 4,000 miles (6,400 km) from the Red Sea to Mozambique.

General features

Despite its vast size, Africa has few extensive mountain ranges and fewer high peaks than any other continent. The major ranges are the Atlas mountains along the northwest coast and the Cape Mountains in South Africa. Lowland plains are also less common than on other continents.

Geologists characterize Africas topography as an assemblage of swellsrock strata warped upward by heat and pressureand basins, masses of lower-lying crustal surfaces between swells. The swells are highest in east and central west Africa, where they are capped by volcanic flows originating from the seismically active East African rift system. The continent can be visualized as an uneven tilted plateau, one that slants down toward the north and east from higher elevations in the east and south.

The continents considerable geological age has allowed widespread and repeated erosion, yielding soils leached of organic nutrients but rich in iron and aluminum oxides. These soils are high in mineral deposits such as bauxite (aluminum ore), manganese, iron, and gold, but they are very poor for agriculture. Nutrient-poor soil, along with deforestation and desertification (expansion of deserts) are just some of the daunting challenges that face African agriculture in modern times.

East African rift system

The most distinctive and dramatic geological feature in Africa is the East African rift system, which opened up in the Tertiary period (approximately 65 million years ago), shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct. The same tectonic forces that formed the rift valleyand threaten eventually to split East Africa from the rest of the continenthave caused the northeast drifting of the Arabian plate, the opening of the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, and the volcanic uplift of Africas mountains, including its highest: Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Kibo, the highest of Kilimanjaros three

peaks, reaches 19,320 feet (5,796 m) and is permanently snowcapped, despite its location near the equator.

Both Kilimanjaro and Africas second-highest peak, Mount Kenya (17,058 ft; 5,117 m), which sit astride the equator, are actually composite volcanoes,

part of the valleys vast volcanic field. The area is also punctuated by a string of lakes, the deepest being Lake Tanganyika, with a maximum depth of 4, 708 feet (1,412 m). Only Lake Baikal in Eastern Russia is deeper, at 5,712 feet (1,714 m).

The rift valley is seismically active. Along its western stretch, lava flows and volcanic eruptions occur about once a decade in the Virunga Mountains north of Lake Kivu. One volcano in the region dammed a portion of the valley formerly drained by a tributary of the Nile River, forming Lake Kivu as a result.

On its northern reach, the 4,000-mile (6,400-km) long rift valley separates Africa from Asia, with an eastern arm that can be traced from the Gulf of Aqaba along the Red Sea. The rifts grabens (basins of crust bounded by fault lines) stretch through the central Ethiopian highlands, which range up to 15,000 feet (4,500 m) and then along the Awash River. Proceeding south, the valley is dotted by a series of small lakes from Lake Azai to Lake Abaya and then into Kenya by way of Lake Turkana.

Slicing through Kenya, the grabens are studded by another series of small lakes from Lake Baringo to Lake Magadi. The valleys trough or basin is disguised by layers of volcanic ash and other sediments as it threads through Tanzania via Lake Natron. The rift can be clearly discerned again in the elongated shape of Lake Malawi and the Shire River valley, where it finally terminates along the lower Zambezi River and the Indian Ocean near Beira in Mozambique.

The valley also has a western arm that begins north of Lake Albert (Lake Mobutu) along the Zaire-Uganda border and continues to Lake Edward. It then curves south along Zaires eastern borders, then extends toward Lake Nysasa (Lake Malawi).

Shallow but vast Lake Victoria sits in a trough between the rifts two arms. Although the surface altitude of rift valley lakes like Nyasa and Tanganyika are hundreds of feet above sea level, their floors are hundreds of feet below due to their great depths. In that sense they resemble the deep fjords found in Norway.

The valleys eastern arm is much more seismically active than the western. It has more volcanic eruptions in the crust, with intrusions of magma (subterranean molten rock) in the middle and lower crustal depths. Geologists consider these geological forces to be associated with the origin of the entire rift valley, and they deem the eastern arm to be the older of the two.

Human evolution

It was in the great African rift valley that hominids, or human ancestors, arose. Fossils of the genus Australopithicus dating 3-4 million years ago have been unearthed in Ethiopia and Tanzania. And the remains of a more direct human ancestor, Homo erectus, who was using fire 500,000 years ago, have been found in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania as well as in Morocco, Algeria, and Chad.

Paleontologists, who study fossil remains, employ radiocarbon (carbon-14) and potassium-argon dating to determine a fossils age. This is based on the half-life of radioisotopes, or the time required for half of a sample to undergo radioactive decay.

Volcanic activity

Volcanic activity in Africa today is centered in and around Tanzania at Oldoinyo Lengai and in the Virunga range on the Zaire-Uganda border at Nyamlagira and Nyiragongo. Volcanism can also be found in west Africa, where Mount Cameroon (13,350 feet; 4,005 m) and smaller volcanoes stand on the bend of Africas West Coast in the Gulf of Guinea. They are the only active volcanoes on the African mainland that are not in the rift valley.

However, extinct volcanoes and evidence of their previous activity are widespread. The Ahaggar Mountains in the central Sahara contain more than 300 volcanic necks that rise in vertical columns of 1,000 feet (305 m) or more. Huge volcanic craters or calderas are found several hundred miles to the east in the Tibesti Mountains. The Trou au Natron caldera is 5 miles (8 km) wide and over 3,000 feet (900 m) deep. In the rift valley, the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, surrounded by teeming wildlife and spectacular scenery, is a popular tourist attraction. Volcanism formed the diamonds found in South Africa and Zaire. The Kimberly diamond mine in South Africa is actually an ancient volcanic neck.

Folded mountains

The only folded mountains in Africa are found at the continents northern and southern reaches. Folded mountains result from the deformation and uplift of Earths crust, followed by deep erosion. Over millions of years this process built ranges like the Atlas Mountains, which stretch from Morocco to Algeria and Tunisia.

Geologically, the Atlas Mountains are the southern tangent of the European Alps, separated by the Strait of Gibraltar in the west and the Strait of Sicily in the east. These mountains are strung across northwest Africa in three parallel arrays: the coastal, central, and Saharan ranges. By trapping moisture, they carve out an oasis along a strip of northwest Africa, with the dry and inhospitable Sahara Desert just to the south.

The Atlas Mountains are relatively complex folded mountains featuring horizontal thrust faults and ancient crystalline cores. The Cape Ranges, on the other hand, are older, simpler structures, analogous in age and erosion to the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States, which rise in a series of steps from the ocean to the interior, flattening out in plateaus and rising again to the next ripple of mountains.

Islands

For a continent of its size, Africa has very few islands. The major Mediterranean islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, and Cyprus are a part of the Eurasian plate, not Africa. Islands lying off Africas Atlantic Coast, like the Canaries, Azores, and even the Cape Verde Islands near north Africa, are considered Atlantic structures. Two islands in the middle of the South Atlantic, Ascension and St. Helena, also belong to the Atlantic. Islands belonging to Equatorial Guinea as well as the island country of Sao Tome and Principe at the sharp bend of Africa off of Cameroon and Gabon are related to the volcanic peaks of the Cameroon Mountains, the principal one being Mount Cameroon.

Madagascar, the worlds fourth-largest island after Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo, is a geological part of Gondwanaland. The islands eastern two-thirds are composed of crystalline igneous rocks, while the western third is largely sedimentary. Although volcanism is now quiescent, vast lava flows indicate widespread past volcanic activity. Madagascars unique plant and animal species testify to the islands long separation from the mainland.

Ocean inundations in North Africa

Marine fossils, notably tribolites dating from the Cambrian period (505-570 million years ago; the first period of the Paleozoic era) have been found in southern Morocco and Mauritania. Rocks from the succeeding period, the Ordovician (500-425 million years ago) consist of sandstones with a variety of fossilized marine organisms; these rocks occur throughout northern and western Africa, including the Sahara.

The Ordovician was characterized by the development of brachiopods (shellfish similar to clams), corals, starfish, and some organisms that have no modern counterparts, called sea scorpions, conodonts, and graptolites. At the same time, the African crust was extensively deformed. The continental table of the central and western Sahara was lifted up almost a mile (1.6 km). This alternated with crustal subsidings, forming valleys that were periodically flooded.

Glaciation

During the Ordovician, Africa, then part of Gondwanaland, was situated in the southern hemisphere on or near the South Pole. Toward the end of this period, huge glaciers formed across the present-day Sahara, filling its valleys with sandstone and glacial deposits. Although Africa today sits astride the tropics, it was once the theater of Earths most spectacular glacial activity. In the next period, the Silurian (425-395 million years ago), further marine sediments were deposited.

Tectonics in North Africa

The Silurian was followed by the Devonian, Mississippian, and Pennsylvanian periods (408-286 million years ago), the time interval when insects, reptiles, amphibians, and forests first appeared. A continental collision between Africa (Gondwanaland) and the North American plate formed a super-supercontinent (Pangaea) and raised the ancient Mauritanide mountain chain, which once stretched from Morocco to Senegal. During the late Pennsylvanian, layer upon layer of fossilized plants were deposited, forming seams of coal in Morocco and Algeria.

When Pangaea (and later Gondwanaland) split apart in the Cretaceous (144-66 million years ago), a shallow sea covered much of the northern Sahara and Egypt as far south as Sudan. Arabia, subjected to many of the same geological and climatic influences as northern Africa, was thrust northward by tectonic movements at the end of the Oligocene and beginning of the Miocene epochs (around 30 million years ago). During the Oligocene and Miocene (5-35 million years ago; segments of the modern Cenozoic Era) bears, monkeys, deer, pigs, dolphins, and early apes first appeared.

Arabia at this time nearly broke away from Africa. The Mediterranean swept into the resulting rift, forming a gulf that was plugged by an isthmus at present-day Aden on the Arabian peninsula and Djibouti near Ethiopia. This gulf had the opposite configuration of todays Red Sea, which is filled by waters of the Indian Ocean.

As the Miocene epoch drew to a close about five million years ago, the isthmus of Suez was formed and the gulf (todays Red Sea) became a saline (salty) lake. During the Pliocene (5-1.6 million years ago) the Djibouti-Aden isthmus subsided, permitting the Indian Ocean to flow into the rift that is now the Red Sea.

Origin of the Sahara desert

In the Pleistocene epoch (1.6-11,000 years ago), the Sahara was subjected to humid and then to dry and arid phases, spreading the Sahara desert into adjacent forests and green areas. About 5,000-6,000 years ago, in the post glacial period of our modern epoch (the Holocene), a further succession of dry and humid stages further promoted desertification in the Sahara as well as the Kalahari in southern Africa. Expansion of the Sahara is still very much in evidence today, causing the desertification of farm and grazing land and presenting the omnipresent specter of famine in the region.

Minerals and resources

Africa has the worlds richest concentration of minerals and gems. In South Africa, the 2-billion-year-old Bushveld Complex, one of the largest masses of igneous rock on Earth, contains major deposits of strategic metals such as platinum, chromium, and vanadiummetals that are indispensable in tool making and high-tech industrial processes.

Another spectacular intrusion of magmatic rocks composed of olivine, augite, and hypersthene occurred in the Archean eon over 2.5 billion years ago in Zimbabwe. Called the Great Dyke, it contains substantial deposits of chromium, asbestos, and nickel. Almost all of the worlds chromium reserves are found in Africa. Chromium is used to harden alloys, to produce stainless steels, as an industrial catalyst, and to provide corrosion resistance.

Unique eruptions that occurred during the Cretaceous period in southern and central Africa formed kimberlite pipesvertical, near-cylindrical rock bodies caused by deep melting in the upper mantle. These are the main source of gem and industrial diamonds in Africa. The continent contains 40% of the worlds diamond reserves, which are found in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and Zaire.

Uranium deposits are found in Niger, Gabon, Zaire, and Namibia. In South Africa uranium is found side by side with gold, which decreases production costs. South Africa alone contains half the worlds gold reserves. Mineral deposits of gold also occur in Zimbabwe, Zaire, and Ghana. Alluvial gold (eroded from soils and rock strata by rivers) can be found in Burundi, Côte dIvoire, and Gabon.

Half of the worlds cobalt is in Zaire; Zimbabwe has sizable reserves as well. One-quarter of the worlds aluminum ore is found in a coastal belt of West Africa stretching 1,200 miles (1,920 km) from Guinea to Togo, with the largest reserves in Guinea.

Major coal deposits exist in southern Africa, North Africa, Zaire, and Nigeria. North Africa is awash in petroleum reserves, particularly Libya, Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia. Nigeria is the biggest petroleum producer in West Africa, but Cameroon, Gabon, and the Congo also contain reserves, as does southern Africa, chiefly Angola.

During much of the Cretaceous period (130 million to 65 million years ago), when dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Triceratops walked Earth, Africas coastal areas and most of the Sahara Desert were submerged underwater. Global warming during the Cretaceous period melted polar ice and caused ocean levels to rise. Oceanic organic sediments from this period were transformed into the petroleum and natural gas deposits now exploited by Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, and Gabon. Today, oil and natural gas are important components of these nations economies.

Most of Africas iron reserves are in western Africa, with the most significant deposits in and around Liberia, Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and Mauritania, as well as in South Africa. Most of the ore is bound up in Precambrian rock strata.

Modern-day climate and environment

Africa, like other continents, has been subjected to enormous climate swings during the Quartenary period (the last 2 million years); these have had dramatic effects on landforms and vegetation. Some of these cyclical changes may have been driven by cosmic or astronomical phenomena, including asteroid and comet collisions.

The impact of humankind on the African environment is also evident. Beginning 2,000 years ago, with the rise of civilization, African woodlands have been deforested, exacerbated by overgrazing, agricultural abuse, desertification, and soil erosion.

KEY TERMS

Composite volcano A large, steep-sided volcano made of alternating sequences of lava and pyroclastic debris. Sometimes called a stratovolcano.

Craton A piece of a continent that has remained intact since Earths earliest history, which functions as a foundation, or basement, for more recent pieces of a continent.

Gondwanaland An ancestral supercontinent that broke into the present continents of Africa, South America, Antarctica, and Australia, as well as the Indian subcontinent.

Graben A block of land that has dropped down between the two sides of a fault to form a deep valley.

Lava domes Small dome-shaped masses of volcanic rock formed in the vent of a volcano.

Paleoclimatologist A geologist who studies climates of Earths geologic past.

Swells Rock strata warped upward by heat and pressure.

Volcanic neck A usually tall, steep mountain of lava rock that solidified in the volcanos throat, stopping up the volcano as it became extinct.

Some of Africas environmental changes are man-made lakes designed for hydroelectric generation. As Africas population exerts ever-greater demands on irrigation, the continents water resources are increasingly taxed. To stabilize Africas ecology and safeguard its resources and mineral wealth, many earth scientists say greater use must be made of sustainable agricultural and pastoral practices. Progress in environmental and resource management, as well as population control, is also vital.

Resources

BOOKS

Hancock P. L., and B. J. Skinner, eds. The Oxford Companion to the Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Petters, Sunday W. Regional Geology of Africa. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences Series. Vol 40. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1991.

PERIODICALS

Leroux, M. The Meteorology and Climate of Tropical Africa. Journal of Meteorology 27, no. 271 (2002): 274.

All Africa. Sustainable Africa: Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture, Biodiversity <http://allafrica.com/sustainable> (accessed October 13, 2006).

Cowan, Richard. Diamonds, Gold, and South Africa: Diamonds and De Beers University of California, Davis; Department of Geology. <http://www-geology.ucdavis.edu/~cowen/~GEL115/115CH15diamonds.html> (accessed October 13, 2006).

Robert Cohen

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Africa

Africa

This entry contains the following:

I. HISTORY
Sylvie Kandé

II. POLITICAL AND CULTURAL AGENDAS
Sylvie Kandé

III. ART AND LITERATURE
Sylvie Kandé

IV. RELIGIONS
David Ogungbile

I. HISTORY

The gendering of African studies constitutes one of the most significant epistemological breakthroughs in the last decades of the twentieth century. From the African Eve to the first African female elected president, women have indeed assumed a pivotal role in shaping African history, and, in turn, major historical episodes such as colonization and decolonization have considerably affected their status. Moreover, as African cultures have so far rested on the notions that at birth individuals are endowed with both a male and a female principle, and that the genders complement one another, women have been perceived as invaluable direct or symbolic participants in all domains of society.

The significance of African women's contributions has, however, often been played down by the combined forces of patriarchy and racism. African women who have internalized these repressive ideologies have often promoted practices detrimental to their health and freedom, such as clitoridectomy or arranged marriages, and have become the carriers of the heaviest loads in terms of production and reproduction, in exchange for a few counter-privileges, most notably in the spiritual realm. This awareness has encouraged new generations of African women to commit to change and self-representation, for both the preservation of their interests and the increased well-being of their continent as a whole.

PREHISTORY TO COLONIAL TIMES

The specific challenges attached to reconstituting African history—namely the preference shared by a number of African societies for an oral mode of memorization; the deleterious effect of climate, wars and poverty on existing documents; and the weight of a widely diffused corpus of texts and images that grossly distorted African realities—are compounded, when it comes to writing a history of women in precolonial times, with historiographical lacunae resulting from the gender-blind approach characteristic of both the humanities and social sciences, well into the 1990s. The relative disinterest for women as historical agents stems also from the nationalist climate in the midst of which African history gained recognition as a discipline: Emphasis was put on decolonizing knowledge, rather than on checking it for gender biases. New scholarship is actively working, not only at filling the gaps, but ultimately at gendering the disciplines.

"Pre-her-story"

According to genetic studies conducted in the mid-1980s, the most recent common matrilineal ancestor of humans alive today lived 150,000 years ago in East Africa. Through mitochondrial DNA—that is, organelles passed from mothers to offspring—scientists have reconstituted an unbroken line of daughters back to the so-called mitochondrial or African Eve. The ancillary idea that "Eve" is older than "Adam" similarly is related to some African myths of origin that ultimately "link human life directly with God through woman," according to the theologian John Mbiti. For instance, according to the Akposso people from Togo, God (Uwolowu), in his process of creation, first made a woman and bore with her the first child. For the Ibibio people of Nigeria, God is the mother-divinity called Eka Abassi. A Fon myth from Benin refers to Mawu, the supreme god, as the male or female offspring of a primordial mother, Nana Buluku.

Women could arguably be credited also with the Neolithic Revolution that occurred possibly as early as 16,000 bce in the Nile Valley. The invention of agriculture and the attendant process of sedentarization could be an extension of the previous task of plant gathering, probably undertaken by women who thus gained extensive knowledge about vegetation growth and reproduction (Laberge 2001). Several myths of origin corroborate this hypothesis: During a drought, Kipsigi women would have found a grass seed that had germinated in elephant dung. After tasting it, they planted more, enabling a stronger Kipsigi community to control the region located in what is today Kenya (Pala and Ly 1979). Indeed, from ancient times until the first decades of the twentieth century, agriculture in Africa remained the preserve of women, who developed a "hoe culture" everywhere except in the Sahel region (Baumann 1928).

Women in Ancient Egypt and Roman Africa (3000 bce–sixth century bce)

Ancient Egyptian civilization, born out of the demographic concentration around the Nile that accompanied the Sahara's desertification (9000–3000 bce), most likely granted women a unique form of gender equality, attested to by both Egyptian and foreign sources. Though made "ladies of the house" by marriage, women moved freely in and out of the public sphere without a veil. They could also theoretically serve in any professional position, from field hands to high priests. Documents show them steering cargo ships and holding scribal palettes as well—an indication that the female elite was literate. In the Old Kingdom, fifth to sixth dynasties, Peseshet, the first female physician in world history, headed a department of female colleagues, while Nebet was one of the two women who held the title of vizier, judge, and magistrate.

Endowed with full legal and economic rights, Egyptian women could independently manage property, sue in court, and enter into any type of contract. Though rarely pharaohs themselves, women, as carriers of the royal line, conferred authority to the rulers by marriage or filiation. The pharaoh himself had to rule in accordance with the principles of cosmic harmony symbolized by a female deity, Maat (Lumpkin 1984). Some royal women imposed themselves through their political or military genius. Queen Ahhotep (sixteenth dynasty, c. 1560–1530 bce) received the highest military decoration, the Order of the Fly, for her campaigns against the Hyksos. Queen Hatshepsut (eighteenth dynasty, r. 1503–1482 bce) was so revered for her campaigns against Nubia that her son ordered the obliteration of her images. Nefertiti (eighteenth dynasty, fourteenth century bce) ruled as co-regent with her husband, Akhenaton (also known as Amenhotep IV), and led a religious revolution. Arsinoeë II (c. 316–270 bce) was deified in her lifetime. Cleopatra (r. 51–30 bce), the last great ruler of the Ptolemaic era, committed suicide after a brilliant political career.

The names of women such as Perpetua and Monica remain attached to the history of early Christianity in Roman Africa. After a first mission was established in Alexandria in the first century ce, Christianity spread westward into Berber North Africa. One of the first North African Christian martyrs was Perpetua, a young mother born in Carthago who left a diary detailing her reasons for seeking martyrdom in 203. Monica, the mother of Aurelius Augustinus (354–430), also known as St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the founding fathers of Roman Christianity, was the main agent of his conversion. She accompanied her son, then a Manichaean, to Italy and begged Bishop Ambrose to mentor him. She died on their way back to Africa, shortly after his baptism in 387.

Women and Islam (seventh century ce–)

The spread of Islam into African societies from the seventh century on had an ambivalent effect on the status of women. Critical of the African premium placed on fecundity over chastity, Muslim visitors or African converts often sought to dismantle the existing local religions. They consequently undermined women's spiritual powers, while introducing limited reforms in their favor, such as the restriction of polygyny to four wives and the abolition of female circumcision in Timbuktu (Iliffe 2007). In its efforts to impose patrilineal rules of succession, Islam encountered resistance, as illustrated by the war waged by Kahina, a female Christian or Jewish leader of the matrilineal Berbers. After wrestling Carthage from Arab control, Kahina decided on an ill-fated scorched-earth policy, and she was eventually defeated in 702.

The literacy Islam brought to sub-Saharan Africa led, from the twelfth century on, to the opening of libraries to house Islamic texts, as well as learning centers for the African production of knowledge in various disciplines, from religion to prosody and from astronomy to the political sciences. Among the estimated one million manuscripts written in Timbuktu and its vicinity, a sizable number were either copied or written by women (Haidara, 1.3). Men of weight such as Sheikh Usman dan Fodio (1754–1817), sultan of the Sokoto califate and prominent Islamic scholar, condemned women's illiteracy in writing. His daughter, Nana Asma'u (1793–1864), a scholar and poet, launched the Yan Taru movement for African female intellectuals who made the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Women and Slavery

Valued workers, African women have been massively sold on the domestic (African), transatlantic, and Oriental markets. In fact, the majority of slaves in sub-Saharan Africa were women (Robertson and Klein 1983). Often kidnapped, as related in chapter two of Olaudah Equiano's autobiography (first published in 1789), women and girls were also pawned for debt repayment, as was the Nigerian novelist Buchi Emecheta's mother at the dawn of the twentieth century. Female slaves were particularly appreciated as wives or concubines because paternity rights were granted to their husbands/owners without dowry, and divorce was unattainable. In the first decades of the twentieth century, when domestic slavery was abolished by both British and French colonial administrations, concubines of elite men were often strategically ordered by the courts to remain in forced marriages. In dynastic societies, such as Dahomey (present-day Benin), female slaves played pivotal roles at the court. Twice barred from dynastic claims, they formed the king's personal guard as well as a pool of potential wives. The queen mother (symbolic "double" of the king rather than his biological mother) was usually a foreigner and a slave. In a few postcolonial African nations, such as Mauritania and the Sudan, enslavement of both women and men is still practiced on occasion.

Famous for their agricultural skills, women represented 35 percent of the human cargoes in the transatlantic slave trade. They were kept on the slave ship's deck to prevent them from inciting men to revolt, and to provide sexual gratification to the crew. One of these women who experienced the Middle Passage was Phillis Wheatley: Born in Africa around 1753, she became the first African American writer to be published. Conversely, some entrepreneurial women were beneficiaries of the transatlantic slave trade, such as the Euro-African signaras (ladies) from Senegambia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Brooks 1976).

The Oriental slave trade—which has never been officially abolished—deported a majority of the African women who were marched toward the East Coast or to Middle Eastern countries, where they served mostly as domestics and concubines. To illustrate the hardships inflicted upon women and children by Swahili or Arab merchants, French missionaries published the archetypal story of Swema, a Yao girl who was sold in 1865, buried alive in Zanzibar, and eventually rescued (Robertson and Klein 1983).

Women as Leaders

Conversely, examples of African women exerting direct political leadership abound, although their power depended on seniority, motherhood, and wealth. Semi-historical figures, such as Amina of Hausaland, credited to have extended fifteenth-, sixteenth-, or seventeenth-century Kano through military conquest, or Abla Pokou, the eighteenth-century founding mother of the Baule who sacrificed her infant to save her people, coexist with women leaders who distinguished themselves in the anticolonial struggle. Nzinga (c. 1581–1663) waged a quasi-lifelong war against the Portuguese who came to Angola in search of minerals and slaves. Dressed as a man, she is rumored to have kept a harem of young men performing as her "wives." Yaa Asantewa (c. 1840–1921), queen mother of one of the Ashanti states in Ghana, organized a massive rebellion against the protectorate imposed by the British in 1896. Her capture apparently required two thousand troops. Nehanda (c. 1863–1898), medium and leader of the Shona, fought against Cecil Rhodes's colonization of what is now Zimbabwe, and was hanged (Sweetman 1984). One of the lesser-known women fighters, Sarraounia of the Azna, who fought the French commanders Paul Voulet and Julien Chanoine in 1899, is the eponymous character in a 1986 film directed by Med Hondo and based on Abdoulaye Mamani's 1980 novel.

Women and Re/production

Until colonization, African women's main tasks consisted of the production of subsistence food, reproduction, and trade between economically complementary regions. State formation (and the husband's class), rules of descent, and religious and sometimes environmental contexts influenced the condition of women (Coquery-Vidrovitch 1994). But given women's dominance in the main economic sector—agriculture—their rights over land and cattle were generally protected (Pala and Ly 1979). Even if the cattle belonged to the male head of the family, women often received a few heads, and had access to a piece of land, which ensured at least their partial economic autonomy.

With a maximal fecundity ratio (one child every three years), African women have also held a "uterine power," as it were. Matriarchy was arguably the first state of human societies and the notion of descent through women still characterizes the "southern cradle" of the world, according to the historian Cheikh Anta Diop (1978). Indeed, a matriarchal belt skirts Central Africa; matriarchal clusters exist in Ghana and Senegambia, and residual matriarchal aspects, such as the notion of uterine kinship and the naming of the child after the mother, still have wide currency in early-twenty-first-century Africa. For instance, according to the Kikuyu myth of creation, Gikuyu and Moombi gave birth to nine daughters, after whom each of the nine main Kikuyu clans of the Moombi nation was named. For a long time, the all-powerful Moombi women practiced polyandry. Moombi men, having impregnated women, overthrew them, but could not, however, alter the clans' female names, which have lasted in Kenya into the twenty-first century. Moreover, the social importance of the female procreative function has generated specific institutions, such as "woman-to-woman marriage," by which an heirless woman could acquire rights over another woman's childbearing capacity (though not over her sexuality).

The dowry, while granting paternity rights to the husband, entitled a woman to her kin's help in times of crisis. Married women could request divorce, though in patriarchal communities they would lose their children to the father's family. In rural polygamous settings, the senior wife often had the upper hand in choosing a cowife to share her domestic and field work. Others examples of women's resourcefulness in reducing their oppression and labor included the circulation of children and the organization of "tontines" (French tontine was the equivalent of English "esusu" or "osusu," which became susu in Caribbean, where the institution survives; hence also known as "e/o susu"), that is, rotating associations for collective labor or money savings toward the completion of individual projects.

Women gained extra income and status through local and long-distance trade, and wealthy "market queens" in cities such as Onitsha, Lomé, or Accra (today named "Mama Benz" or "Nana Benz" after their chauffeured cars) have also acquired political influence. In 1850, for instance, Freetown women traders convinced the colonial authorities to build a new market, and, similarly, in 1977 market women obtained from the Guinean Marxist leader Sékou Touré the right to self-manage their market, as well as the legalization of private small trade (Coquery-Vidrovitch 1994).

Women's esoteric knowledge entitled them to major functions in nonmonotheistic religions. Involved in divination and witchcraft, women were often associated with rainmaking. For instance, Mujaji (Modjadji), the queen and rainmaker of the Lovedu, commands such respect that both Shaka (c. 1787–1828), the Zulu king, and Nelson Mandela (b. 1918), the South African political leader, invoked endorsement from the Mujaji of their respective eras. In addition, membership in female secret associations (such as the Sande or Bundu, a Mende initiation society in Sierra Leone) gave women a voice in communal decision-making processes.

Conclusion

The condition of African women in precolonial times, still insufficiently understood, remains at the core of an intense debate. Some scholars, such as Niara Sudarkasa (1996), have strived to demonstrate that "female" and "male" were clusters of statuses for which gender was one of the defining characteristics. Therefore, the normative gender stratification of the early twenty-first century did not exist in precolonial Africa, and women's participation in economic, political, religious, and artistic matters was deemed indispensable to the life of their societies. Others, such as Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch (1994), insist that women were trained from a young age, and often through harsh rituals, to submit to male power: Defined by the three Ss—silence, sacrifice, and service—they remained, though with notable exceptions, legal minors throughout their lives. From this vantage point, the glorification of their reproductive role appears to have been a mere compensation for the disregard they met in their productive functions. A clearer picture of the female condition in precolonial Africa would indeed require in-depth research on the plural and complex networks women simultaneously belonged to—an arrangement that was probably geared to offset some of the social handicaps they experienced in both patriarchal and matriarchal communities.

COLONIAL PERIOD

Colonization (1880s–1960s) affected African women in contradictory ways. To a large extent, they lost control of their own world, and their consulting role in the external affairs previously handled by men all but disappeared. Redirected toward cash crop production, they were also subjected to forced labor on plantations, taken as hostages to pressure men into meeting production quotas, recruited to perform sexual services, and sent to concentration camps (see the films by Jean-Marie Teno, Le malentendu colonial [The colonial misunderstanding 2004]; and Peter Bate, Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death [2003]). Unaware of the system of parallel chieftancies, colonizers suppressed women's autonomous organizations, in possible connivance with African patriarchs. New laws made the husband the head of the household and imposed his name onto his wife. The dowry (lobola) calculated in cash came to signify a new commodification of gender relations (Mama 1996). Moreover, voting rights were granted to women much later in the colonies than in the metropole (Goerg 1997).

If a handful of women benefited from colonization, such as Madame Yoko, who served as paramount chief of the Kpaa-Mende of Sierra Leone from 1878 to 1908, the majority vigorously expressed discontent. In 1929 the attempt to impose taxation on women in Nigeria resulted in the Igbo Women's War, with ten thousand rural women demonstrating against their diminishing political rights. During the Franco-Algerian War (1954–1962), an estimated ten thousand Algerian women worked for the National Liberation Front (FLN), and one out of five arrests or killings involved a woman. Despite later controversies, Winnie Mandela, the "Mother of the Nation," remains the symbol of South African women's intrepid resistance against Apartheid. In all their conflicts with the colonial (and later the postcolonial) state, women have resorted to original strategies, such as sit-ins and invasions of officers' private space, derisive songs, and even nudity to signify social breakdown—the latter tactic used again in 1990 to condemn violence in Coôte d'Ivoire.

Yet, the colonial and postcolonial city has undeniably granted women more autonomy, allowing them to take on new social identities. Escaping rural constraints, women have found in Nairobi, Kampala, or Lagos new sources of income, in the area of services and commerce (including prostitution), enabling them to achieve home ownership, finance their children's studies, and sometimes travel abroad. They have become a vital part of the informal economic sector, outside of state control. Far from their kin, they have managed to negotiate transethnic or caste-blind marriages, and have sometimes established polyandric fiefs (Gondola 1997).

Similarly, the spread of Christianity, first by the Portuguese in the coastal areas as early as the fifteenth century, and then by European and American missionaries in the nineteenth century, resulted in both limiting and expanding African women's freedom. As civilization was presented to Africans as coterminal with Christianity, a number of cultural changes related to spirituality, matriarchal regime, and clothing were imposed by missionaries as religiously mandated. Although, as a result of this, women lost their spiritual powers, as well as the economic and personal independence that made divorce, for instance, an easy and common procedure, they seized a number of emancipatory opportunities offered by the new religion—namely, monogamy, deferral of marriage until adulthood, and access to literacy, education, and employment. Consequently, most early Christians in Africa were women: According to the historian John Iliffe (1995), they represented 80 percent of Anglican communicants in Abeokuta in 1878.

Women who found inspiration in the Biblical message but suffered racial or gender discrimination within the church often founded or joined African Independent Churches (AICs). Inaugurated in the Kongo with the Antonine movement spearheaded by Kimpa Vita (Beatriz of the Kongo) in the early eighteenth century, a tradition of female-headed independent churches developed in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Africa and was often fed by conflicts that arose from the colonial situation. The new converts wished either to Africanize the clergy or to Africanize Christianity itself. The issue of female circumcision, for instance, led thousands of Christians in Kenya in the 1920s and 1930s to leave Protestant churches to found their own (Labode 1999). Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton (1999) argues that women's participation in the AICs illustrates Africa's ability to reconcile the old and the new. The recurrence of founding mothers for these churches rested on the precolonial concept of female mediumship, and indeed the new religion often managed to incorporate elements of the local cults and spirit-possession practices. For instance, in the Luo Roho movement of western Kenya, a body of female soldiers (askeche) protected congregations, in line with a local tradition of women possessed by the spirit of slain warriors. Some of the most famous female heads of the AICs include Christianah Abiodun (Nigeria), Grace Tani (Ghana), Marie Lalou (Cote d'Ivoire), Mai Chaza (Zimbabwe), Alice Lenshina (Northern Rhodesia [present-day Zambia]), and Gaudencia Aoko (Kenya) (pp. 430-431).

Ultimately, men confiscated leadership in the AICs, and Christian conversions barely affected polygyny. Christianity, to some extent, presented itself as a foil for Islam, enabling it to construct itself as an anticolonial religion in nationalist eras. Yet, Christianity has grown to become one of the two major African religions, practiced in the early twenty-first century by close to 150 million women on the continent.

THE EARLY-TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY SITUATION

A Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations survey of nine African countries in 1996 revealed that women assume 70 percent of the agricultural activities and 100 percent of the food processing (Manuh 1998). They are also responsible for procuring 80 percent of water and fuel supplies. Consequently, they bear the brunt of Africa's increasingly limited access to natural resources, technology costs, obsolete customary laws, and economic migrations, which leave them in charge of men's former tasks. In Cameroon and Nigeria for instance, women have replaced cultivating yams (formerly handled by men) with cultivating the less time-consuming but less nutritious cassava.

The "feminization of poverty" results from a combination of factors: Globalization and its attendant constraints—prices established at the center, adjustment programs imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, corporations' initiatives such as genetic seed sterilization or large-scale fishing—play an important role in the development of this phenomenon. Illiteracy primarily affects girls, who are often taken from school for domestic chores or early marriages, and accounts in part for the scarcity of elected women officials. For instance, among the Togolese people over fifteen years of age, 60 percent of women as compared to 27 percent of men are illiterate (UNFPA 2000). In 2006 for the first time in African history, a woman was elected president, and this event took place in Liberia. In her inaugural address, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf pledged a "fundamental break" with decades of military and political violence in her country.

Multiple forms of violence are visited upon African women. In 2003 African nations agreed in Maputo, Mozambique, to end female genital mutilation, forced marriages, and punitive widowhood rituals. Yet the World Health Organization estimates that 40 percent of African women undergo some form of "body marking," such as lip and neck elongation, ablation of the uvula, or forced feeding (Coquery-Vidrovitch 1994). With new forms of war that primarily target civilians, women are killed, raped, or enslaved in disproportionate numbers throughout the African continent. Wangari Mathai, the Kenyan woman activist recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize—the first African woman to receive this award—is convinced that there is an environmental root to wars. Her Green Belt movement, founded in 1977, has employed eighty thousand women to plant 15 million trees and combat government-sponsored deforestation. Moreover, women have become the main victims of the AIDS crisis that feeds, in the African context, on poverty, wars, displacements, illiteracy, and sexual violence. Its epicenter is in South Africa, and disenfranchised urban women between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four are particularly at risk. In spite of clear progress made in Central Africa, gender equality is ultimately the cure for the pandemic.

Regardless of patriarchal, colonial, or postcolonial repression, masses of women merchants and peasants, as well as some elite women, have fought over the years to transform their condition. Though a history of African feminism (which Gwendolyn Mikell [1994] describes as heterosexual, pro-natal, and concerned with survival) remains to be written, several women who have theorized their militant practices for gender equality stand out, including Adelaide Casely-Hayford (1868–1960, Sierra Leone), Aoua Kéita (1912–1980, Mali), Nawal El Saadawi (b. 1931, Egypt), Molara Ogundipe-Leslie (b. 1949, Nigeria), and Filomina Chioma Steady (Sierra Leone).

see also AIDS and HIV: I. Overview; Anthropology; Creation Stories; Daughter of the Nile Union; Economics; Employment Discrimination; Female Genital Mutilation; Feminism: I. African (Sub-Saharan); Folk Healers and Healing; Folklore; Gender Studies; Harems; Honor and Shame; Honor Crimes; Initiation; Menstruation; Nomadism; Rape; Sex Roles; Slavery; Veiling; Violence; Virginity; Women's Human Rights.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baumann, Hermann. 1928. "The Division of Work According to Sex in African Hoe Culture." Africa 1(3): 289-319.

Brooks, George E., Jr. 1976. "The Signares of Saint-Louis and Gorée: Women Entrepreneurs in Eighteenth-Century Senegal." In Women in Africa: Studies in Social and Economic Change, ed. Nancy J. Hafkin and Edna G. Bay. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Coquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine. 1994. Les Africaines: Histoire des femmes d'Afrique noire du XIXè au XXè siècle [The Africans: An History of Women of Sub-Saharan Africa, 19th-20th century]. Paris: Editions Desjonquères.

Diop, Cheikh Anta. 1978. The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity. Chicago: Third World Press.

Emecheta, Buchi. 1977. The Slave Girl: A Novel. New York: Braziller.

Equiano, Olaudah. 1996. Equiano's Travels, abridged and ed. Paul Edwards. Oxford, UK: Heinemann. (Orig. pub. 1789.)

Goerg, Odile. 1997. "Femmes africaines et politique: Les colonisées au féminin en Afrique occidentale" [African Women and Politics: Colonized Women in West Africa]. Clio 6: 105-125.

Gondola, Ch. Didier. 1997. "Unies pour le meilleur et pour le pire: Femmes africaines et villes coloniales; Une histoire du métissage" [United in Good and Bad Times: African Women and Colonial Cities. An History of Hybridization]. Clio 6: 87-104.

Haidara, Abdul Kader. "Lumière sur les plus importantes bibliothèques à Tombouctou" [Insights on the Most Important Libraries in Timbuktu]. Available from http://www.ebad.ucad.sn/sites_heberges/manifestations/colloque_BN_2003/Akha%C3%AFdara.htm.

Hoehler-Fatton, Cynthia. 1999. "Christianity: Independent and Charismatic Churches in Africa." In Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, ed. Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates. New York: Basic Civitas Books.

Iliffe, John. 2007. Africans: The History of a Continent. 2nd edition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Laberge, Claude. 2001. "La deuxième révolution agricole: Notre déf." [The Second Agricultural Revolution: Our Challenge]. L'Agora, 48 (Summer). Available from http://agora.qc.ca/magazine/agora.nsf/Index/Agora.

Labode, Modupe. 1999. "Christianity, African: An Overview." In Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, ed. Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates. New York: Basic Civitas Books.

Lumpkin, Beatrice. 1984. "Hypatia and Women's Rights in Ancient Egypt." In Black Women in Antiquity, ed. Ivan Van Sertima. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

Mama, Amina. 1996. "Women's Studies and Studies of Women in Africa during the 1990s." CODESRIA Working Paper Series, no. 5. Dakar, Senegal: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA).

Mamani, Abdoulaye. 1980. Sarraounia: Le drame de la reine magicienne [The Tragedy of Queen-Magician Sarraounia]. Paris: L'Harmattan.

Manuh, Takyiwaa. 1998. "Women in Africa's development." Africa Recovery Online, a Publication of the United Nations 11. Available from http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/bpaper/maineng.htm.

Mbiti, John. 1988. "Flowers in the Garden: The Role of Women in African Religion," Cahiers des Religions Africaines 22: 69-82.

Mikell, Gwendolyn, ed. 1997. African Feminism: The Politics of Survival in Sub-Saharan Africa. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Pala, Achola O., and Madina Ly. 1979. La femme africaine dans la société précoloniale [African Women in Pre-colonial Societies]. Paris: UNESCO.

Robertson, Claire C., and Martin A. Klein, eds. 1983. Women and Slavery in Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Sudarkasa, Niara. 1996. "The 'Status of Women' in Indigenous African Societies." In Women in Africa and the African Diaspora: A Reader, ed. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Andrea Benton Rushing. 2nd edition. Washington, DC: Howard University Press.

Sweetman, David. 1984. Women Leaders in African History. London: Heinemann.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). 2000. State of World Population, 2000: People, Poverty, and Possibilities. New York: Author.

                                             Sylvie Kandé

II. POLITICAL AND CULTURAL AGENDAS

From antiquity to the middle of the twentieth century, the European and North American production of knowledge on Africa distorted the image of that continent and its peoples by silencing or overpowering African voices. That situation resulted from what philosopher V. Y. Mudimbe has termed the "epistemological ethno-centrism" of the West (Mudimbe 1988, p. 15). Moreover, although a distinct European identity emerged in the fifteenth century from the colonial conquest of new lands and the concomitant invention of race and otherness, the birth of Africa as a self-defining cultural entity has been the product of the deportation of 12 million to 20 million Africans to Europe and the Americas over four centuries. Consequently, it was in the diaspora rather than on the continent itself and in the midst of suffering that a collective African identity first coalesced. Ironically, although Africa has been feminized in its relationship with Europe and North America, the African subject in discourses by Africans and non-Africans alike generally has been presumed to be male.

THE NAMING OF AFRICA

The process by which the African continent was named and mapped reflects the nature of European and Asian involvement in that region. Referred to as Ethiopia in both the Bible and Greek historical literature, the Africa known in antiquity encompassed the land west of Egypt (Libya) and the land east and south of Egypt up to contemporary Chad (Ethiopia). After the Romans invaded the African shores of the Mediterranean, they renamed their colonies, possibly after a local population, the Afers. The adoption of the Roman name Africa in its Arabicized form Ifriqiya by the Muslim armies that marched through the Sahara from the seventh century on inscribed that project in the same colonial tradition. Similarly, from the fifteenth century on the name Africa came to be applied to the various coastal locations discovered by Portuguese navigators and eventually to the land mass defined by Bartolomeu Diaz's (1457–1500) 1488 circumnavigation of South Africa.

However, it was the sixteenth-century German cartographer Mercator (1512–1594) who imposed a still insufficiently challenged image of Africa. Compressing the southern hemisphere to a third of the world map, the Mercator projection gives Africa a rounded, somewhat passive form that must have echoed the notion of femininity in the chauvinistic world of the Renaissance, as emblematized by Vesalius and Durer's voyeuristic dissections of the female body (Brotton 2002). Later African allegories also often associated animals or monsters and a black woman, the Other, who "in [her] abnormal differences, specifies the identity of the Same" (Mudimbe 1988, p. 12).

EARLY IMAGES AND CHARACTERIZATIONS

For classics scholar Frank Snowden, Jr., Greek historians' terminological decision to call Ethiopians (burnt faces) both non-Egyptian Africans and Indians exemplifies the Greeks' exoticist yet nonracialist vision of the world, whereas Mudimbe sees a tradition of locating Africans in a "geography of monstruosity" (1994, p. 78), emerging in Herodotus (484–425 bce) resurfacing in Pliny (23–79 ce), and redeployed in nineteenth-century European and North American anthropologists' writings (1988, p. 71). The institution of slavery contributed to social discrimination against Africans in the Arab world, regardless of the lack of racial prejudice in the Koran and despite the literary, musical, religious, and military contributions of Africans to Muslim societies. The descriptions of Sudanese empires left by Arab scholars such as Al-Fazari (eighth century), Al-Bakri (eleventh century), and Ibn Battuta (fourteenth century), though colored by their interest in gold and conversion, constitute invaluable sources for the reconstitution of medieval African history. Al-Bakri, for instance, alludes to the matriarchal organization at the court of Ghana, to men with shaved beards and women with shaved heads, and to the king's female adornments (Shillington 2005).

Until the High Middle Ages Africa in the European imagination was associated with fabulous places, such as the kingdom of Prester John, a legendary Christian priest-king identified as the Abyssinian ruler, or larger-than-life figures, such as Mansa Musa (1312–1327), the emperor of Mali, who was represented holding a gold nugget by Abraham Cresques (d. 1387) in his 1375 world map. Spectacular embassies from Senegambia, the Kongo, and Ethiopia created long-lasting impressions and led to both more realistic portrayals of Africans and the introduction of the new convention of the dark-skinned Magus in the nativity scene (Northup 2002).

SLAVERY AND COLONIALISM

The massive transportation of enslaved Africans to the Americas required new narratives and new images. As Eric Williams (1994) argues, economic motives caused slavery, which in turn caused racism. As Africa became a reservoir of free laborers, Africans became Ham's offspring cursed by Noah, a race defined by the excesses of local climate and devoid of intellectual abilities and human feelings. Many of the most important modern thinkers subscribed to those notions, from Voltaire (1694–1778) to Hegel (1770–1831).

Colonialism reinforced the previous stereotypes. In the overarching European and North American dualism that subordinates nature to culture, the colonized subject was assimilated to nature and subtly feminized, sparing experts the need to compare African women's precolonial and colonial conditions. For instance, the system of dual chieftaincy in Nigeria, with both a female leader and a male leader, was ignored in gender-blind studies and destroyed by British indirect rule, which supported male leadership only. Though gender is a central element in any analysis of kinship, linguistics, division of labor, use of space, memory, and religion, African women were both caricatured and neglected in anthropological studies.

The case of Saartjie Baartman (1789–1815), the Hottentot Venus, is the attempt by scientific racism to locate sites of bestiality on the African female body. Brought from southern Africa to Europe in 1810, Baartman was exhibited in zoos and shows for her prominent buttocks and offered money by the French anatomist Georges Cuvier (1769–1832) to have her Hottentot apron examined. Her skeleton, genital parts, and brain were dissected after her death and preserved in the Musée de l'Homme in Paris until 1974 and were not returned to South Africa until 2002 (Bancel and Blanchard 2004).

Even after the 1920s anthropologists who participated in the deconstruction of the hegemonic notion of civilization and practiced participant observation in African societies paid less attention to women than photographers did. These photographic images show, however, ahistorical women, or "metaphors for a continent willing to be possessed and penetrated by the white man" (Boetsch and Savarese 1999, p. 130), that speak primarily of colonial desires. The French anthropologist Denise Paulme wrote in the 1985 introduction to Women of Tropical Africa (1960) that she "regretted most not to have previously worked with women. The image [she] brought back was that of a male world" (Héritier, p. 7). This first ethnological work dedicated to African women has been criticized for being a celebration of heroines intended to counter the colonial discourse that had portrayed African women as enslaved to an indigenous patriarchal order, and to illustrate the feasibility of the political and economic equality that the second wave of European and North American feminists demanded for themselves (Becker 2005).

AFRICANISM AND FEMINISM

Africanism, or knowledge about Africa, constituted itself in the mid-1950s through a fusion of anthropology and other disciplines (Mudimbe 1994). The field of Africanist gender studies has been dominated by anthropologists and historians since its inception in the 1960s and 1970s, though literary critics have contributed their expertise and creativity (Becker 2005). Both fields have been challenged to decolonize knowledge before and after independence.

After another shift from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s with the return of the African-woman-as-victim paradigm, more recent feminist scholarship has deconstructed woman as a unitary category and begun examining the previously unquestioned gender roles of men. Although black feminists such as Oyeronke Oyewumi (2004) and Niara Sudarkasa (b. 1938) have questioned the existence of gender in precolonial times, it may seem that women's condition as that of a "missing person[s] whose structure of difference produces the hybridity of race and sexuality in the postcolonial discourse" (Bhabha 1994, p. 53) has not been used sufficiently to theorize women's negotiations of gender roles and tensions between traditions and modernities, both at home and in situations of migration. However, the brand of African feminism delineated in the 1980s by Filomina Steady (1996), who advocated a rehabilitation of precolonial gender dynamics, sisterhood, and a bigendered fight against racism, has been challenged by social scientists such as Mamphela Ramphele (b. 1947). Stating that "men do not hold the monopoly over the potential to dominate," she suggests that viable intervention strategies should take in consideration "the various social hierarchies that shape and are shaped by gender" (Olukoshi and Nyamnjoh 2006, p. 2).

PAN-AFRICANISM

The idea of a common African/black identity results from the collective experience of the Middle Passage that turned various slave ports on the African coast and their adjacent hinterlands into a "Motherland" and the European ideological justification for that operation—race—into a factor in unity and even a political agenda. The term diaspora, which was borrowed from Jewish history to account for the scattering of Africans throughout the world, rests on the notion of a lost original wholeness. Indeed, the dream of returning to the womb, clandestinely carried into the hole of the slave ship by the naked migrants (in W. W. Glissant's [1992] terms), provided an alternative to the stereotype of a quintessentially hostile African environment. It has assigned the aspirations of slaves and their descendants to another spiritual or political order. The afterlife, for instance, entailed a recrossing of the ocean back home to Guinea, a metonymy of the continent as a whole; that myth also gave several layers of meaning to the recurrent references to boats and the Promised Land in spirituals. Similarly, early diasporic nations, from Maroon communities to the Haitian Republic, can be interpreted as enclaves in which institutions and social life mimicked an African model (Kandé 1998).

Not surprisingly, it was from Haiti, a Caribbean island under attack for its early political independence and its African cultural retentions, that there came an immediate refutation of Gobineau's thesis on the inequality of races. Though Anténor Firmin's book De l'Egalité des races humaines (1885) was not engaged with in French intellectual circles (Magloire-Danton 2005), its existence and arguments constitute a landmark in the history of the pan-African movement.

Pan-Africanism is a movement born in the diaspora that proclaims the centrality of Africa and acknowledges the bond created by a common experience of enslavement, colonialism, and racism among all people of African descent. Not surprisingly, a 1389 Chinese map and the 1402 Korean Kangnido anticipated the first accurate European map of southern Africa (1502), as the exchanges between China and the eastern coast of Africa that began as early as the second century bce intensified between the eight and the fifteenth centuries ce and works toward the liberation of the Motherland. Pan-Africanism, which ideologically brought together black internationalists as diverse as E. W. Blyden (1832–1912), Marcus Garvey (1887–1940), Adelaide Casely Hayford (1868–1960), Tovalou-Quenum, C. L. R. James (1901–1989), and Malcolm X (1925–1965), has a cultural wing represented by the Francophone Négritude movement of the 1930s to the 1960s led by Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001), Aimé Césaire (b. 1913), and Léon Gontran Damas (1912–1978). The writings of those scholars were aimed specifically at the rehabilitation of the African past.

Kwame Nkrumah (1909–1972), the first president of Ghana, made pan-Africanism a state ideology, insisting on the necessity for Africans to reconcile themselves to their triple heritage: precolonial, Euro-Christian, and Muslim. He also pointed out that "the degree of a country's revolutionary awareness may be measured by the political maturity of its women" (Nkrumah 1969, p. 131). Another pan-Africanist head of state, Thomas Sankara (1949–1987), took steps to draw attention to the plight of women in Burkina Faso, condemning female circumcision and polygamy and establishing a market day for men.

THE CONTEMPORARY SITUATION

The competition to (re)imagine Africa has become fiercer than ever. Superpowers and transnational companies have become interested in African mineral resources—diamonds, uranium, and oil—fostering political instability in regions of their production. Furthermore, troubled or impoverished nations sometimes are chosen to receive factories that exploit cheap local labor for international brands or to become dumping grounds for nuclear waste. Meanwhile, the major interest of tourists remains observing the fauna and flora in natural reserves such as the Chewore in Zimbabwe and the W park in Niger.

International public expectations about Africa are conditioned by stereotypes that are propagated widely by the mass media. Those stereotypes undermine the credibility of African endeavors to establish viable civil societies that can compete in international markets and in the intellectual realm, confining African contributions to the visual and performing arts. Many of those stereotypes have found an additional outlet in an Afro-pessimist discourse according to which AIDS will depopulate Africa, the high fecundity rate responsible for famine and emigration, and male polygamy is the rule.

Although the African continent has paid the heaviest toll in the AIDS pandemic, positive results have been obtained, most notably in Uganda but also in Senegal, thanks to an array of strategies, including grassroots work. Noreen Koleba, the female head of TASO (The AIDS Support Organization) in Uganda, emblematizes the African fight against AIDS.

Although Africa still has the world's highest African fecundity ratio with six children per woman in sixteen of its countries, those figures have to be understood in a historical perspective. The second largest continent, Africa accounted for 14 percent of the world population in 1700 and only 6 percent in 1900. The fecundity ratio must be reevaluated in light of the mortality ratio and an average life expectancy of forty-eight years, and the African mortality ratio (9.6% compared with 0.7% in developed countries). Even with a number of megalopoles, the African continent is underpopulated. Birth rates, in decline since the 1990s, were expected to decrease significantly in the first decades of the twenty-first century, and the concomitant aging of the population in the absence of social coverage is the most significant threat that looms over Africa.

Well rooted in rural and urban African societies, the institution of polygamy is limited and declining. Polygamous husbands have on average 2 to 2.5 wives. Flourishing in precolonial rural settings in the absence of land ownership, polygamy has become costly for city dwellers and thus has become a status symbol. It is also often the result of first arranged marriages with relatives. Challenges to the traditional meaning attached to marriage and gender relations and to elder brothers' ability to control their siblings' unions, coupled with a rise in the matrimonial age for educated girls, have been eroding the institution slowly (Courade 2006).

The ability of scholars of Africa to diffuse alternative views is a key factor in epistemological change. Much of the early work was done by the Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop (1974), who succeeded in reinserting Egypt on the African map and proving its ties to other sub-Saharan cultures. The deciphering of the libraries in the sand in the vicinity of Timbuktu represents the next crucial step. Tens of thousands of manuscripts redacted in African languages but written in Arabic script and covering subjects from astronomy to poetry are being exhumed. Some of them were produced at the time of the European invention of the printing press and have the potential to change the global understanding of African intellectual history.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Becker, Heike. 2005. "Review of Andrea Corwall, ed." Readings in Gender in Africa." H-SAfrica. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Bancel, Nicolas, Pascal Blanchard, et al. 2004. Zoos humains: Au temps des exhibitions humaines. Paris: Découverte.

Bhabha, Homi. 1994. Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge.

Boetsh, Gilles, and Eric Savarese. 1999. "Le corps de l'Africaine: Erotisation et inversion." Cahiers d'Etudes Africaine 153: 5-12

Brotton, Jerry. 2002. The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Courade, Georges. 2006. L'Afrique des idées recues. Paris: Belin.

Diop, Cheikh Anta. 1974. The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, trans. Mercer Cook. New York: L. Hill Books.

Glissant, Edouard. 1992. Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays, trans. Jean-Michael Dash. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.

Heritier, Francoise. 1999. "Denise Paulme-Schaeffner (1909–1998) ou l'histoire d'une volonté" Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines XXXIX (1) 153: 5-12.

Kandé, Sylvie. 1998. Terres, urbanisme et architecture "créoles" en Sierra Leone XVIIIe-XIXe siècles. Paris: L'Harmattan.

Magloire-Danton, Gérarde. 2005. "Anténor Firmin and Jean Price-Mars: Revolution, Memory, Humanism." Small Axe 9(2): 150-172.

Mudimbe, V. Y. 1988. The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Mudimbe, V. Y. 1994. The Idea of Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Nkrumah, Kwame. 1969. Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah: Freedom Fighters' Edition. New York: International Publishers.

Northrup, David. 2002. Africa's Discovery of Europe, 1450–1850. New York: Oxford University Press.

Olukoshi, Abedayo, and Francis B. Nyamnjoh. 2006. "The African Woman." CODESRIA Bulletin 1/2: 1-2.

Oyewumi, Oyeronke. 2004. "Conceptualizing Gender: Eurocentric Foundations of Feminist Concepts and the Challenge of African Epistemologies." JENda 2(1): 1-8.

Paulme, Denise, ed. 1960. Femmes d'Afrique noire. Paris: Mouton.

Shillington, Kevin. 2005. History of Africa. Oxford: Macmillan Education.

Steady, Filomina. 1996. "African Feminism: A Worldwide Perspective." In Women in Africa and the African Diaspora, eds. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn and Andrea Benton Rushing. Washington, DC: Howard University Press.

Williams, Eric. 1994. Capitalism and Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

                                                 Sylvie Kandé

III. ART AND LITERATURE

African arts are an ancient component of world heritage. The discovery of 77,000-year-old artifacts—including chunks of ochre engraved with geometric patterns—in the Blombos cave of South Africa reveals that creative and symbolic thinking associated with behavioral modernity first appeared in Africa. It had previously been assumed that rock paintings, which depict with significant regional and chromic variations, humans, animals and therianthropes (semihuman, semianimal creatures), were Africa's oldest form of art.

African arts is, however, a deceptive label that privileges visual arts (and sculpture more specifically) over architecture, textiles, body adornment, performing arts, or literature. Indeed, for the European and North American public, wooden masks have become emblematic of African art—although museification has generally deprived these objects of their dramatic function. Additionally, the notion of African arts often still refers to sub-Saharan artistic production, regardless of the region's crucial ties with North Africa and Ancient Egypt. Indeed, cultural historian Amadou Hampate Ba (1900 or 1901–1991) was able to identify evidence of such interactions in rock paintings representing proto-Fulani ceremonies at the prehistoric site of Tassili-n-Ajjer. Ancient Egypt clearly shares with the rest of Africa a number of aesthetic conventions. For instance, African carvers from Egypt and beyond routinely emphasize rulers' smooth facial features to symbolize the well-being of the land, and adorn them—even some female rulers—with the beard of wisdom. Implicit in the notion of African arts is also the culturally irrelevant distinction between fine arts and popular crafts, challenged by the exquisite treatment of an array of ordinary objects, from the Dogon heddle pulleys and the Kasai velours, to the Zulu spoons and Ashanti combs. This distinction has devalued women's artistic activities, with the exception of the famous Ndebele house painting tradition that South African painter Esther Mahlangu (b. 1935) has reinterpreted.

The belated, though enthusiastic, reception African arts elicited in early twentieth-century Europe ultimately opened a thorough questioning of the universal nature of European and North American aesthetic conventions and categories. African arts not only provided European and North American artists with new aesthetic solutions, but also gave anticolonial African intellectuals tangible evidence of an African philosophy needed to prepare for decolonization.

In modern Africa, whereas the local production of arts and crafts is generally strained by the importation of European and North American commodities and tourists' demands for affordable exotica that have replaced African patronage, a growing number of artists are attempting to redefine their role as either culture brokers or unaligned talents and as economic agents on the transnational art market. Appropriating media, techniques, and vocabulary, both from the contemporary European and North American art scene and from precolonial African aesthetic traditions, those artists have created bold fusions, or métissages. Women artists, in particular have been daring in crossing aesthetic and social boundaries.

Contemporary African art demonstrates an acute awareness of international events, global crises, and their local implications, studied by intensely committed artists whose gaze may nevertheless seem distanced, cruel, or sarcastic. Whereas power figures (nkissi) are locally being created in response to the AIDS pandemic, Congolese painter Cheri Samba (b. 1956) depicts its urban daily reality in a cartoon-like way; Kofi Setordji (b. 1957) (Ghana) created a monument to the 800,000 victims of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and painter Sylvia Katende (b. 1961) (Uganda) engages her audiences on politicofeminist themes, such as sustainable development.

African arts are infinitely diverse and resist totalizing aesthetic definitions. Indeed, the paradoxical absence of a signifier for art in African languages suggests a thorough dissemination of artistic creativity throughout all aspects of individual and collective life. African arts transcend binary oppositions, such as religious versus secular, high art versus crafts, and culture versus nature. Indeed, spiritually charged masks or statues are also utilitarian objects in the context of rituals ensuring social balance: Akuaba dolls, for instance, before transiting to shrines, are carried and nursed by Ashanti women seeking fertility. Moreover, the same category of objects, for instance, staffs or stools, may have several competing functions, both material and symbolic.

By and large, criteria of aesthetic achievement in African arts include inventiveness within an established tradition, a combination of abstraction with naturalism, repetition and contrast, and gender complementarity. A dance performance is evaluated in terms of both its faithful execution of known (and clearly gendered) steps and its sense of individual improvisation and self-celebration. Similarly, the fame of the headrests from the nineteenth-century Kinkondja workshop (Congo) results from their conformity with but also their divergence from Luba conventions—apparent in the cascading treatment of the hair. Furthermore, on sculptures, naturalistic features (face, sex, hairdo, or scarifications) routinely coexist with enlarged body parts or emphatic volumes: prominent heads suggest inner vision and rounded breasts, fertility. Protrusions highlight the role of the face's orifices as contact zones between human and divine realms. Ubiquitous patterns account for both symmetry and movement in sculptures, for textiles' geometric designs, and for polyrhythm in musical compositions that corresponds to polycentrism in dances: Each part of the body, responding to a selected rhythm, moves in isolation from yet in coherence with the others.

The notion of gender complementarity permeates African arts, governing even the type of artistic activity undertaken. In casted societies, griots and griottes can perform oral texts, though the recitation of epics or royal genealogies are generally a male preserve. Blacksmiths can also be wood sculptors and jewelers, whereas their wives specialize in pottery making. Sculptures representing a pair of founding ancestors illustrate the paramount importance of achieving a unified vision of personhood and community through association of genders. The Dogon male associations meeting chambers are supported by posts adorned with female figures in a similar concern for gender balance. The same artifact often unites male and female attributes, as does the Queen of Holo carving that evokes Nzinga, the ideal ruler.

African societies have, with notable exceptions such as ancient Egypt and Ethiopia, chosen orality over writing for textual preservation and communication. An immense and constantly renewed corpus, oral literature encompasses compositions varying from diminutive proverbs to lengthy epics (such as the thirteenth-century Sunjata' epic that relates the foundation of the Mali empire), and several uniquely African genres, such as southern African praise poems (izibongo). African oral texts are generally conceived for performance and are accompanied by music and dancing. Memorialists include men and women.

The spread of Islam brought to the northern, western and eastern regions a new script that literate African Muslims used to transcribe oral literature and to create new texts. From the fifteenth century on, Timbuktu was the center of an intense production of manuscripts (some of them authored or copied by women) on a variety of subjects written in Arabic language or script.

Modern literature of Africa written in the colonial or excolonial languages emerged in the first decades of the twentieth century, with the limitations imposed by the colonial order. The Negritude movement, initiated in the 1930s by a group of Francophone writers—chief among them Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001), who eventually would be elected into the French Academy—represents the first attempt to define an autonomous African literary aesthetics. Negritude has been criticized for its allegedly essentialist vision of racial relations and its inability to promote women's poetic expression. After World War II (1939–1945), major authors asserted themselves, such as Chinua Achebe, with his seminal novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), and Wole Soyinka (b. 1934), who was granted the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1986. Ngugi Wa Thiongo (b. 1938) has promoted modern African literature written in African languages by publishing some of his novels in the Gikuyu language.

The era of independence is characterized by a proliferation of fictions dealing with the condition of women, authored by Sembene Ousmane (also cited as Ousmane Sembene) (b. 1923) and Mongo Beti (1932–2001), most notably. By the 1970s, pioneering women writers, such as Flora Nwapa (1931–1993), Mariama Ba (1929–1981), and Buchi Emecheta (b. 1944), had transformed the literary landscape by inventing writing modes appropriate to their denunciation of African patriarchy. They paved the way for new generations of women writers, represented by Calixthe Beyala (b. 1961) or Tsitsi Dangaremba (b. 1959), who unequivocally advocate feminism. Though southern African literature focused mainly on Apartheid until the mid-1990s, Bessie Head (1937–1986) and Miriam Tlali (b. 1936) have forcefully evoked women' struggles. North African literature has been no less prolific, with a mix of Francophone writers such as Kateb Yacine (1929–1989) and Assia Djebar (b. 1936) (a member of the French Academy since 2006) and others who publish in both Arabic and English, such as Naguib Mahfuz (1911–2006), winner of the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1988. Egyptian writer Nawal el Saadawi (b. 1931) is well known for her courageous stands on women's issues, circumcision and prostitution especially.

Contemporary African arts are thriving, as illustrated by the biennales held in Dakar, Senegal, and Johannesburg, South Africa, and by the canonization of African literature both in Europe and North America and in Africa. Contemporary artists and writers have made their mark by paying tribute to past generations, all the while breaking a number of taboos. These include the prohibition for both noncasted people and women to engage in certain artistic activities. Salif Keita (b. 1949), a descendant of the Malinke ruling family, transgressed this rule by becoming an internationally famous musician, and Ousmane Sembene provocatively defined the African writer as a griot. In the same spirit, Doudou Ndiaye Rose (b. 1928) has produced a band of drummers, exclusively composed of women.

Artists have further complexified the notion of African arts by multiplying the forms, medium, and materials of their expression. A strong tradition of modern painting has developed in the Congo, whereas photography, with Seydou Keita (1921–2001), and cinema, with Souleymane Cisse (b. 1940), Safi Faye (b. 1943) and Flora M'Mbugu-Schelling, have acquired a well-deserved transnational fame. Instead of limiting themselves to perishable materials, artists work also in cement, aluminum, plastic, or recycled objects. Although new sources of patronage—banks, government offices, churches, or foreign foundations—have recently surfaced, few African artists can live off their artistic output.

In troubled postcolonial times, African writers and artists share concerns about the definition of their identity. Whereas many remain committed to the future of their continent of origin, a sizable number assert their right to be recognized solely for the quality of their works.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Achebe, Chinua. 1958. Things Fall Apart. London: Heinemann.

Appiah, Anthony. 1992. "The Postcolonial and the Postmodern" In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

Blier, S. P. 1999. "African Art and Architecture," Africana, ed. Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Basic Civitas Books.

Leiris, M. 1996. "La crise nègre dans le monde occidental" Miroir de l'Afrique. Paris: Gallimard, pp. 1125-1159.

Musée du quai Branly. 2000. "Sculptures Luba." Sculptures. Afrique, Asie, Oceanie, Amériques. Paris: Seuil.

Steiner, Christopher. 1994. African Art in Transit. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Timeline of Art History—Africa. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Available from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hm/04/af/hm04af.htm.

Vansina, Jan. 1984. Art History in Africa. London: Longman.

Visona', Monica Blackman, et al. 2001. A History of Art in Africa. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Wilford, J. N. 2001. "Artifacts in Africa Suggest an Earlier Modern Human." New York Times, December 2, sec. 1A, p. 1.

Zahan, D. 1980. Antilopes du Soleil: Arts et rites agraires d'Afrique noire. Vienna: A. Schlend.

Zimmer, William 1999. "Art: Layers of Complexity in a Show of African Objects." New York Times, December 12.

                                               Sylvie Kandé

IV. RELIGIONS

African indigenous religions have certain similar structures that are visible among the many diverse peoples of Africa, showing the interlinking relationships among the human, spiritual, and natural entities. Mythic narratives and ritual performances express and articulate, linguistically and symbolically, the gendered relationship and categorization within the African universe. Historian of religion Ninian Smart's (2006) presentation of the seven dimensions of religious phenomena is quite revealing of the components and structures of African indigenous thought. While mythic and ritual dimensions are crucial to indigenous religious expression, other aspects such as ethics, experience, social doctrines, images, and symbols are constructed and created from myths and rituals. The seven dimensions assist in understanding the nature and structure of African indigenous religions.

MYTHS, THE COSMOS, AND SPIRITUAL BEINGS

Like most other indigenous peoples, Africans have a variety of myths through which they define and express their existence in the cosmos. Most hold that many spiritual beings exist, with a supreme being at the apex. Deities who express the nature, character, and power of the Supreme Being are both male and female.

Supreme Beings

African communities have different names expressed in indigenous languages, which are descriptive of their perception of the Supreme Being. Most communities in Africa hold that the Supreme Being is male, largely due to the patriarchal nature of these communities. Some supreme beings are, however, either female or androgynous (both male and female). The Ashanti of Ghana, for instance, speak of Nyame as the great Mother who gives life to all, while the Ewe-speaking peoples of Ghana believe that Nana-Buluku, the Ancient Deity, is androgynous. The variations in the conception, description, and portrayal of supreme beings as male, female, or androgynous in most cases are due to the social structures and patterns of the different communities and localities. However, the roles of the supreme beings are both masculine and feminine.

The basic African conception envisions the Supreme Being as the originator of all existence. In all cases the Supreme Being possesses attributes such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, transcendence, immanence, and benevolence.

Deities

The deities (or divinities) are lesser spiritual beings that function in different capacities and manifest certain aspects and characters of the Supreme Being. These deities are capable of manifesting as human beings and natural phenomena. In fact, myths hold that some of the deities existed at different times both as human beings and natural phenomena. This notion supports the view that the deities exhibit both positive and negative human characteristics. The deities serve as intermediaries between the Supreme Being and human beings as well as other nonhuman entities. Human beings, who express the reality of the deities in ritual performances, present interlinking connections among the spiritual beings, the natural phenomena, and other unseen entities that populate the universe. The relationships of the human beings to both the Supreme Being and divinities are described in anthropological terms in some cases as fathers, mothers, and friends.

The Supreme Being in most mythic narrative created and continues to maintain the universe through the assistance and in collaboration with male and female deities. For instance, the male and female twins of Amma, the Dogon Supreme Being, were the progenitors of the human race. Among the Akan of Ghana (West Africa), Nyame created Okane, the first man, and Kyeiwaa, the first woman. The Mende myth of creation tells of Ngewo, who, after creating the earth and all things in it, made a man and woman to populate the universe. The Yoruba present a fascinating myth of creation and maintenance of the universe that includes male and female deities called òrìsà. After creating the òrìsà, Olódùmarè, the Supreme Being, delegates responsibility for the universe to his principal òrìsà, among whom are Obàtáálá, Òrúnmìlà, Ògún (males), and Òsun (female). Another prominent female deity who participates in the maintenance of the universe is Obà, a river deity. While the complementarity of the male and female deities is intrinsic and strong, Yoruba cosmology also teaches that female deities possess and exercise spiritual powers that could submerge those of their male counterparts.

Most African deities continue to function through the natural phenomena they embody, such as rain, wind, forest, and river. Some deities manifest as entities of the terrestrial universe, including the sun, moon, and stars. The male-female relationship makes vitality and productivity possible.

Most water deities serve as agents of human procreation and productivity. The deities have a role in fertility through ritual processes, thus sustaining the human community. Osun, Oya, and Yemoja, goddesses, exemplify this belief among the Yoruba and African Disapora.

Deities associated with the sky and rain are male, and fertilize the deities associated with the earth. According to the Edo of eastern Nigeria, Chukwu created Igwe, or Amadioha, the Sky deity, and Ala, the Earth deity; Igwe took the form of rain to fertilize Ala, his wife. Most male deities exhibit anger and hot-bloodedness, whereas female deities are gentle and cool. Examples of male-female complementary deities include Gua and Bosomtwe of the Akan (Ghana); Sango and Osun of the Yoruba (Nigeria); and Amadioha and Ala of the Igbo (Nigeria). Human beings explore and exploit their own complementary roles in procreation and productivity by participating in ritual practices.

RITES AND RITUAL PRACTICE

Ritual practice provides a context for the meeting of the spiritual, humans, and the natural world. In the spirit-nature-human relationship, the human body serves as the focal point for, and the center of, the connection through words, recited, uttered, and sung in ritual activities. Rivers and lakes symbolize female deities whereas hills and mountains perform that function for male deities. Natural elements such as iron and stone also represent male deities. The shrine of any particular deity often houses the emblems and symbols of deities of other sexes. Explanations for this are that, in ritual practices, (a) the male-female principle operates in the sense of primordial existence, which has continual relevance; and (b) male and female deities collaborate in ritual observances that are employed for human well-being and ordering of the universe. Moreover, symbols and emblems have practical utility in ritual practice. Participants believe that words used in the rituals possess creative and spiritual power.

Ritual prescriptions follow the male-female principle in response to primordial dictate. Worshipers offer deities ritual meals, specific to each deity and either offered up directly or consumed by humans as an indirect offering. Some meals are forbidden for particular deities. In most cases, prescriptions and taboos are dictated by the sex of the deity. Meals including liquids, such as the blood of hen and she-goat and water, which are characterized by coolness and softness, are appropriate for female deities, while rougher materials are prescribed for male deities. Shrines display the prescribed rituals. Worshipers sometimes place the meals of female deities at the shrines of male deities in an attempt to assuage the fury and that the latter show toward human beings.

Ritual provides a renewal, reinvigoration, revitalization, rejuvenation, and rebirth of spaces and times through the agency of human beings. Ritual activities based on mythic narratives often dictate, order, and empower processes of commitment and objectification.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Societies support rites of passage, otherwise called rites of transition, to transit its members from one stage of life to another. The first phase of transition includes naming and circumcision for boys and girls. In indigenous African religious communities, the girl children were circumcised on the seventh day after birth, the boy children on the ninth day. The next phase is puberty. The rites of transition for the female at this phase coincide with marriage rites and are usually performed when a girl's breasts begin to mature or at the onset of menstruation. The rites include food taboos and training in domestic responsibilities. A male adolescent may request the rites or the community may call for them based on the child's physical growth. Such rituals can involve symbolic death, which may in fact be fatal, and shaving the initiates' heads. Rites of passage involve seclusion for both males and females.

Marriage rites, usually communal and protracted, involve the extended families of the marriage partners. The rite culminates in an elaborate ceremony of gift-giving and merriment. The two families become one, staying intact through times of joy and sorrow.

Burial rites are the most elaborate in terms of significance, symbolism, and performance. Male burial rites are more important as a social event. The reasons for this are obvious: African societies are patriarchal and the social structure places men in positions of power. Men's burial rites are relatively longer than those of women. Women, however, are required to observe a long period of mourning for deceased husbands. They remain indoors and dress in dark clothing. Women shave their heads during this period in some cultures. Some societies forced a young widow to become the spouse of another member of the man's family, but this is no longer enforced.

RELIGIOUS SPECIALISTS

Religious specialists are priests and priestesses who consult the deities on behalf of individuals and communities. They serve male and female deities, that is, gods and goddesses. Chief priests and priestesses give instructions, prescribe rituals, and, where required, divine signs and omens. Ritual specialists also direct and participate prominently at annual and occasional indigenous festivals.

The most common categories of religious specialists, in addition to priests and priestesses, are mediums, diviners, herbalists, and witch-doctors. Their roles, however, are fluid and confusing. Whereas priests and priestesses have specific duties and full commitment to the shrines of their personal or community deities, diviners serve in a general capacity as mediums for the clients who consult them in times of distress and uncertainty. Priesthood may be assumed or ascribed through spirit possession, selection by the family through divine consultation, or training by senior ritual specialists. A religious specialist may assume several roles.

African priestesses participate prominently in festivals and ritual practices with specific and defined functions and roles. Their psychic abilities display in such activities as drumming, clapping, singing, and ecstatic movement, and they are skilled in extemporaneous singing and recitation of praise-poetry. Priests however exhibit spirituality more often through meditative actions. Though both perform divination, priests speak at length during the process. In some cases different instruments are used by priests and priestesses.

Sorcerers and witches constitute a unique spiritualist category. They are spiritual agents whom many African communities view as diabolical agents of terror. Sorcerers, predominantly male, are believed to possess the characteristics of good and evil, whereas witches, predominantly female, are believed to be essentially and inherently evil. Witchcraft, embodied in the image of old, ugly, haggard women who take the form of animals such as cats, lizards, and cockroaches, is a source of terror in some communities. Sorcerers and witches are indispensable in the scheme of ritual performance because priests and priestesses solicit their support and cooperation.

Priests and priestesses often collaborate in ritual performances, particularly with regard to healing. Different taboos exist for priests and priestess. Empowerment of priests and priestesses follows different patterns and ritual prescriptions.

Some African religious specialists reenact a community's pact with the deity instrumental in founding it. Priests and priestesses jointly engage in the renewal of shrines and other sacred places. Festival dramas, whether hegemonic, that is, marking the foundation of towns, or celebratory, commemorating other important events or persons, are done in the spirit of civil religiosity, where everybody who claims to belong to the community by origin, or lives in the community, regardless of their religious persuasions, is expected to participate.

During festival performances, ritual spiritualists wear costumes representing sex or gender roles. Notwithstanding their sexes, they often wear costumes of the deities that they serve and to which they are committed. In West Africa, performers at Gelede and Osun festivals put on female headdresses. Male Sango priests plait their hair in female patterns. These activities probably have primordial origins.

Other materials used in ritual practices and festivals are gender-ascribed, reflecting statuses and roles. A good example is the drum: Some drums are male, others female. Use of some drums is restricted by sex or deity.

CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS

Contemporary studies in African indigenous religions reveal the hidden resources in African sacred oral texts, contained in chants, corpus, songs, symbols, and proverbs. Researchers are moving away from colonial influences and early biased studies and views of African religions.

Early-twenty-first-century scholars recognize Islam and Christianity as African religions. Pentecostal and evangelical sects in Africa have done much to encourage women to refute the negative image of them imposed by early Christian missionaries. Islam has also made advances in gender issues. Women now establish and lead Muslim societies and movements.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adegbola, E. A. A., ed. 1998. Traditional Religion in West Africa. Ibadan, Nigeria: Sefer.

Awolalu, J. Omosade, and P. Adelumo Dopamu. 1979. West African Traditional Religion. Ibadan, Nigeria: Onibonoje Press.

Blakely, Thomas D.; Walter E. A. van Beek; and Denis Thomson, eds. 1994. Africa: Experience and Expression. London: James Currey; Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Clarke, Peter B., ed. 1998. New Trends and Developments in African Religions. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Gennep, Arnold van. 1960. The Rites of Passage, trans. Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Idowu, E. Bolaji. 1973. African Traditional Religion: A Definition. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Mbiti, John S. 1991. "Flowers in the Garden: The Role of Women in African Religion." In African Traditional Religions in Contemporary Society, ed. Jacob K. Olupona. New York: International Religious Foundation.

Mol, Hans. 1977. Identity and the Sacred: A Sketch for a New Social Scientific Theory of Religion. New York: Harper and Row.

Moore, Henrietta L; Todd Sanders; and Bwire Kaare, eds. 1999. Those Who Play with Fire: Gender, Fertility and Transformation in East and Southern Africa. New Brunswick, NJ: Athlone Press.

Murphy, Joseph M., and Mei-Mei Sanford, eds. 2001. Osun Across the Waters: A Yoruba Goddess in Africa and the Americas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Olajubu, Oyeronke. 2003. Women in the Yoruba Religious Sphere. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Olupona, Jacob K., ed.. 2000. African Spirituality: Forms, Meanings and Expressions. New York: Crossroad Publishing.

Parrinder, Edward Geoffrey. 1974. African Traditional Religion. London: Sheldon Press

Ray, Benjamin C. 1976. African Religions: Symbol, Ritual and Community. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Smart, Ninian. 2000. Worldviews: Crosscultural Explorations of Human Beliefs. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

                                         David O. Ogungbile

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Africa

Africa

Europeans of the Renaissance had some knowledge of northern Africa, part of the Islamic world. Spain had been closely involved with the region since the a.d. 700s. However, the relationship between the Spanish and the North Africans included considerable warfare, and during the Renaissance the Spanish attempted to cut all ties. By contrast, before the 1300s Europeans knew little of sub-Saharan Africa (the region south of the Sahara desert). Contact with this area really began in the Renaissance when Europeans explored the coastal areas of Africa.

Northern Africa. During the Middle Ages, Muslim invaders from North Africa had conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula*. Under their rule, people from many different cultures—Islamic, Christian, and Jewish—met and exchanged ideas, and a rich blend of civilizations resulted.

However, the Christian monarchs of Iberian lands struggled to regain control of their lost territory. Between the 700s and the 1400s, they gradually recaptured these lands from the Muslims. The last section of Spain returned to Christian control in 1492. The new rulers forced everyone within their realms to convert to Christianity or leave. The remaining Muslims and Jews were forced out of the region in the 1600s.

These events created a barrier between the Muslim and Christian worlds. After the 1400s, there was little interaction between the Spanish and Portuguese and the peoples of North Africa. As a result, the cultural and technological developments of the European Renaissance did not extend into North Africa. European thinkers were challenging established ideas about politics, religion, and society. The Islamic cultures of northern Africa, however, remained committed to their old ways of thinking.

While Europeans were exploring Asia and the Americas, the rulers of the Muslim world concentrated on expanding their power in the Middle East and Africa. During the 1500s, the Ottoman Empire gained control of all of North Africa except Morocco. In 1580 the Ottoman Turks and the Spanish established a truce, agreeing not to attack each other's lands. But the two civilizations had little contact. Even in the early 1600s, when European sailors and merchants arrived in North Africa with the latest ships and weapons, the Ottomans showed little interest in copying the new technologies.

The Renaissance marked the beginning of a dramatic shift in power between Europe and the Islamic world. Europe was expanding in many ways—developing new colonies, trade routes, scientific theories, and cultural viewpoints. For the most part, Muslims did not share in these discoveries because of limited communication with Europeans and because they did not welcome new ideas. Europe came to dominate the globe, and the power of Muslim empires diminished.


Sub-Saharan Africa. Until the 1300s, Europeans knew little about Africa south of the Sahara. When the king of Ethiopia sent messengers to Spain in 1306, the Spanish believed the message had come from "Prester John"—a legendary Christian monarch thought to control distant kingdoms. For many years afterward, most Europeans assumed that Prester John was the ruler of Ethiopia. Christian nations sought alliances with Ethiopia as a way of controlling the Muslim empires in Africa.

Ethiopia remained in contact with Europe. Monks of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which had split off from the Roman Catholic Church many centuries earlier, traveled to Italy and the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. In 1414 Ethiopian monks attended the Council of Florence, a meeting to discuss the possibility of reuniting the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Europeans studied the language of Ethiopia, and merchants from Italy and the Catalan region of Spain explored the region. During the Renaissance, European maps of Ethiopia became progressively more accurate.

Meanwhile, European mariners were exploring the islands off Africa's Atlantic shores. In 1312 a sailor from Genoa discovered a sea route to the Canary Islands, just off the northwest coast of Africa. Merchants and raiders from several western European countries visited the Canaries throughout the 1300s. In 1405 the Spanish established a colony there. European sailors also discovered and colonized the islands of the Azores and Madeira to the northwest. These new colonies helped them solve a navigational problem. Ocean currents made sailing to west Africa easy, but returning was difficult. By stopping at Madeira and the Azores on the way home, sailors could avoid the troublesome currents.

Europeans had a special interest in Senegal, a region on Africa's west coast known for gold. By the mid-1400s Portuguese sailors had become regular visitors there. Traveling farther south along the African coast, Portuguese merchants reached present-day Ghana in the late 1400s. They called it the Gold Coast because of its rich gold deposits. The merchants also entered the Kingdom of Benin in what is now Nigeria.

The Portuguese who visited Benin met ambassadors from an unknown land carrying items marked with a cross-shaped symbol. They assumed that these ambassadors came from Prester John's kingdom. In 1482 the Portuguese sent two explorers to seek out Prester John's lands. The first, Diogo Cão, traveled by sea. He found no signs of the mythical Christian kingdom, but he did discover that the African coast stretched southward much farther than Europeans had realized. The second explorer, Pero da Covilhã, traveled by land and eventually reached Ethiopia. In 1488 explorer Bartholomeu Dias became the first European to sail around the southern tip of Africa.

When the Portuguese first visited west Africa, they raided the area for slaves. However, after a series of attacks by African ships, the Portuguese negotiated a truce with the west African nations in 1462. This opened up the area to trade in such valuable goods as gold, pepper, ivory—and slaves, mostly prisoners of African wars. The Portuguese also entertained visitors from many African countries. Several African monarchs considered converting to Christianity, and the king of Kongo actually became a Christian. The Portuguese also established relations with Ethiopia through the explorer Pero da Covilhã, who helped the two kingdoms form an alliance in 1520.

(See alsoCouncils; Exploration; Islam; Portugal; Spain. )

* Iberian Peninsula

part of western Europe occupied by present-day Spain and Portugal

West African Kingdoms

Several powerful empires flourished in west Africa during the Renaissance. They established vast trading networks, exchanging goods such as gold and salt between southern and northern Africa. Mali, founded on the remnants of the earlier kingdom of Ghana, included the great city of Timbuktu. By the 1300s Mali extended from the Atlantic coast to the southern reaches of the Sahara desert. In the 1400s the Songhai took over the eastern portion of the kingdom of Mali. They built an empire centered on the middle Niger River. It remained a major power until it was conquered by Morocco in 1591.

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Africa

Africa

Africa is the world's second largest continent . From the perspective of geologists and paleontologists (scientists studying ancient life forms), Africa also takes center stage in the physical history and development of life on Earth . Africa possesses the world's richest and most concentrated deposits of minerals such as gold, diamonds, uranium , chromium, cobalt, and platinum. It is also the cradle of human evolution and the birthplace of many other animal and plant species , and has the earliest evidence of reptiles , dinosaurs, and mammals .

Origin of Africa

Present-day Africa, occupying one-fifth of Earth's land surface, is the central remnant of the ancient southern supercontinent called Gondwanaland, a landmass once made up of South America , Australia , Antarctica , India, and Africa. This massive supercontinent broke apart between 195 million and 135 million years ago, cleaved by the same geological forces that continue to transform Earth's crust today.

Plate tectonics are responsible for the rise of mountain ranges, the gradual drift of continents, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. The fracturing of Gondwanaland took place during the Jurassic period, the middle segment of the Mesozoic era when dinosaurs flourished on earth. It was during the Jurassic that flowers made their first appearance, and dinosaurs like the carnivorous Allasaurus and plant eating Stegasaurus lived.

Geologically, Africa is 3.8 billion years old, which means that in its present form or joined with other continents as it was in the past, Africa has existed for four-fifths of Earth's 4.6 billion years. Africa's age and geological continuity are unique among continents. Structurally, Africa is composed of five cratons (structurally stable, undeformed regions of Earth's crust). These cratons, in south, central, and west Africa are mostly igneous granite, gneiss, and basalt, and formed separately between 3.6 and 2 billion years ago, during the Precambrian era.

The Precambrian, an era which comprises more than 85% of the planet's history, was when life first evolved and Earth's atmosphere and continents developed. Geochemical analysis of undisturbed African rocks dating back 2 billion years has enabled paleoclimatologists to determine that Earth's atmosphere contained much higher levels of oxygen than today.


Continental drift

Africa, like other continents, "floats" on a plastic layer of the earth's upper mantle called the asthenosphere . The overlying rigid crust or lithosphere , as it is known, can be as thick as 150 mi (240 km) or under 10 mi (16 km), depending on location. The continent of Africa sits on the African plate, a section of the earth's crust bounded by mid-oceanic ridges in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The entire plate is creeping slowly toward the northwest at a rate of about 0.75 in (2 cm) per year.

The African plate is also spreading or moving outward in all directions, and therefore Africa is growing in size. Geologists say that sometime in the next 50 million years, East Africa will split off from the rest of the continent along the East African rift which stretches 4,000 miles (6,400 km) from the Red Sea in the north to Mozambique in the south.

General features

Considering its vast size, Africa has few extensive mountain ranges and fewer high peaks than any other continent. The major ranges are the Atlas Mountains along the northwest coast and the Cape ranges in South Africa. Lowland plains are also less common than on other continents.

Geologists characterize Africa's topography as an assemblage of swells and basins. Swells are rock strata warped upward by heat and pressure while basins are masses of lower lying crustal surfaces between swells. The swells are highest in East and central West Africa where they are capped by volcanic flows originating from the seismically active East African rift system. The continent can be visualized as an uneven tilted plateau, one that slants down toward the north and east from higher elevations in the east and south.

During much of the Cretaceous period, from 130 million to 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs like tyrannosaurus, brontosaurus, and triceratops walked the earth, Africa's coastal areas and most of the Sahara Desert were submerged underwater. Global warming during the Cretaceous period melted polar ice and caused ocean levels to rise. Oceanic organic sediments from this period were transformed into the petroleum and natural gas deposits now exploited by Libya, Algeria, Nigeria and Gabon. Today, oil and natural gas drilling is conducted both on land and offshore on the continental shelf .

The continent's considerable geological age has allowed more than enough time for widespread and repeated erosion , yielding soils leached of organic nutrients but rich in iron and aluminum oxides. Such soils are high in mineral deposits such as bauxite (aluminum ore ), manganese, iron, and gold, but they are very poor for agriculture. Nutrient-poor soil , along with deforestation and desertification (expansion of deserts) are just some of the daunting challenges facing African agriculture in modern times.


East African rift system

The most distinctive and dramatic geological feature in Africa is undoubtedly the East African rift system. The rift opened up in the Tertiary period, approximately 65 million years ago, shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct. The same tectonic forces that formed the rift valley and which threaten to eventually split East Africa from the rest of the continent have caused the northeast drifting of the Arabian plate, the opening of the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, and the volcanic uplifting of Africa's highest peaks including its highest, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Mount Kibo, the higher of Kilimanjaro's two peaks, soars 19,320 ft (5,796 m) and is permanently snowcapped despite its location near the equator.

Both Kilimanjaro and Africa's second highest peak, Mount Kenya (17,058 ft; 5,117 m) sitting astride the equator, are actually composite volcanos, part of the vast volcanic field associated with the East African rift valley. The rift valley is also punctuated by a string of lakes, the deepest being Lake Tanganyika with a maximum depth of 4,708 ft (1,412 m). Only Lake Baikal in Eastern Russia is deeper at 5,712 ft (1,714 m).

Seismically the rift valley is very much alive. Lava flows and volcanic eruptions occur about once a decade in the Virunga Mountains north of Lake Kivu along the western stretch of the rift valley. One volcano in the Virunga area in eastern Zaire which borders Rwanda and Uganda actually dammed a portion of the valley formerly drained by a tributary of the Nile River, forming Lake Kivu as a result.

On its northern reach, the 4,000-mi (6,400-km) long rift valley separates Africa from Asia . The rift's eastern arm can be traced from the Gulf of Aqaba separating Arabia from the Sinai Peninsula, down along the Red Sea which divides Africa from Arabia. The East African rift's grabens (basins of crust bounded by fault lines) stretch through the extensive highlands of central Ethiopia which range up to 15,000 ft (4,500 m) and then along the Awash River. Proceeding south, the rift valley is dotted by a series of small lakes from Lake Azai to Lake Abaya and then into Kenya by way of Lake Turkana.

Slicing through Kenya, the rift's grabens are studded by another series of small lakes from Lake Baringo to Lake Magadi. The valley's trough or basin is disguised by layers of volcanic ash and other sediments as it threads through Tanzania via Lake Natron. However, the rift can be clearly discerned again in the elongated shape of Lake Malawi and the Shire River Valley, where it finally terminates along the lower Zambezi River and the Indian Ocean near Beira in Mozambique.

The rift valley also has a western arm which begins north of Lake Albert (Lake Mobutu) along the Zaire-Uganda border and continues to Lake Edward. It then curves south along Zaire's eastern borders forming that country's boundaries with Burundi as it passes through Lake Kivu and Tanzania by way of Lake Tanganyika. Lake Tanganyika is not only the second deepest lake in the world but also at 420 mi (672 km) the second longest, second in length and depth only to Lake Baikal in Eastern Russia.

The rift's western arm then extends toward Lake Nysasa (Lake Malawi). Shallow but vast Lake Victoria sits in a trough between the rift's two arms. Although the surface altitude of the rift valley lakes like Nyasa and Tanganyika are hundreds of feet above sea level , their floors are hundreds of feet below due to their great depths. In that sense they resemble the deep fjords found in Norway.

The eastern arm of the rift valley is much more active than the western branch, volcanically and seismically. There are more volcanic eruptions in the crust of the eastern arm with intrusions of magma (subterranean molten rock) in the middle and lower crustal depths. Geologists consider the geological forces driving the eastern arm to be those associated with the origin of the entire rift valley and deem the eastern arm to be the older of the two.


Human evolution

It was in the great African rift valley that hominids, or human ancestors, arose. Hominid fossils of the genus Australopithicus dating 3-4 million years ago have been unearthed in Ethiopia and Tanzania. And the remains of a more direct ancestor of man, Homo erectus, who was using fire 500,000 years ago, have been found in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania as well as in Morocco, Algeria, and Chad.

Paleontologists, who study fossil remains, employ radioisotope dating techniques to determine the age of hominid and other species' fossil remains. This technique measures the decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes like carbon and argon to determine a fossil's age. This is based on the radioscope's atomic half-life , or the time required for half of a sample of a radioisotope to undergo radioactive decay . Dating is typically done on volcanic ash layers and charred wood associated with hominid fossils rather than the fossils themselves, which usually do not contain significant amounts of radioactive isotopes.


Volcanic activity

Present-day volcanic activity in Africa is centered in and around the East African rift valley. Volcanos are found in Tanzania at Oldoinyo Lengai and in the Virunga range on the Zaire-Uganda border at Nyamlagira and Nyiragongo. But there is also volcanism in West Africa. Mount Cameroon (13,350 ft; 4,005 m) along with smaller volcanos in its vicinity, stand on the bend of Africa's West Coast in the Gulf of Guinea, and are the exception. They are the only active volcanos on the African mainland not in the rift valley.

However, extinct volcanos and evidence of their activity are widespread on the continent. The Ahaggar Mountains in the central Sahara contain more than 300 volcanic necks that rise above their surroundings in vertical columns of 1,000 ft or more. Also in the central Sahara, several hundred miles to the east in the Tibesti Mountains, there exist huge volcanic craters or calderas. The Trou au Natron is 5 mi (8 km) wide and over 3,000 ft (900 m) deep. In the rift valley, the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, surrounded by teeming wildlife and spectacular scenery, is a popular tourist attraction. Volcanism formed the diamonds found in South Africa and Zaire. The Kimberley diamond mine in South Africa is actually an ancient volcanic neck.


Folded mountains

The only folded mountains in Africa are found at the northern and southern reaches of the continent. Folded mountains result from the deformation and uplift of the earth's crust, followed by deep erosion. Over millions of years this process built ranges like the Atlas Mountains, which stretch from Morocco to Algeria and Tunisia.

Geologically, the Atlas Mountains are the southern tangent of the European Alps, geographically separated by the Strait of Gibraltar in the west and the Strait of Sicily in the east. The Atlas are strung across northwest Africa in three parallel arrays, the coastal, central, and Saharan ranges. By trapping moisture, the Atlas Mountains carve out an oasis along a strip of northwest Africa compared with the dry and inhospitable Sahara Desert just to the south.

The Atlas Mountains are relatively complex folded mountains featuring horizontal thrust faults and ancient crystalline cores. The Cape ranges on the other hand are older, simpler structures, analogous in age and erosion to the Appalachian mountains of the eastern United States. The Cape ranges rise in a series of steps from the ocean to the interior, flattening out in plateaus and rising again to the next ripple of mountains.


Islands

For a continent of its size Africa has very few islands lying off its coast. The major Mediterranean islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, and Cyprus owe their origins to the events that formed Europe's Alps, and are a part of the Eurasian plate, not Africa. Islands lying off Africa's Atlantic Coast like the Canaries, Azores, and even the Cape Verde Islands near North Africa are considered Atlantic structures. Two islands in the middle of the South Atlantic, Ascension and St. Helena, also belong to the Atlantic. Islands belonging to Equatorial Guinea as well as the island country of Sao Tome and Principe at the sharp bend of Africa off of Cameroon and Gabon are related to volcanic peaks of the Cameroon Mountains, the principal one being Mount Cameroon.

Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island after Greenland, New Guinea, and Borneo, is a geological part of ancient Gondwanaland. The island's eastern twothirds are composed of crystalline igneous rocks , while the western third is largely sedimentary. Although volcanism is now quiescent on the island, vast lava flows indicate widespread past volcanic activity. Madagascar's unique plant and animal species testify to the island's long separation from the mainland.

Ocean inundations in North Africa

Marine fossils, notably tribolites dating from the Cambrian period (505-570 million years ago; the first period of the Paleozoic era) have been found in southern Morocco and Mauritania. Rocks from the succeeding period, the Ordovician (500-425 million years ago) consist of sandstones with a variety of fossilized marine organisms; these rocks occur throughout northern and western Africa, including the Sahara.

The Ordovician was characterized by the development of brachiopods (shellfish similar to clams), corals, starfish , and some organisms that have no modern counterparts, called sea scorpions, conodonts, and graptolites. At the same time the African crust was extensively deformed. The continental table of the central and western Sahara was lifted up almost a mile (1.6 km). The uplifting alternated with crustal subsidings, forming valleys that were periodically flooded.


Glaciation

During the Ordovician period, Africa, then part of Gondwanaland, was situated in the southern hemisphere on or near the South Pole. It was toward the end of this period that huge glaciers formed across the present-day Sahara and the valleys were filled by sandstone and glacial deposits. Although Africa today sits astride the tropics, it was once the theater of the Earth's most spectacular glacial activity. In the next period, the Silurian (425-395 million years ago), further marine sediments were deposited.


Tectonics in North Africa

The Silurian was followed by the Devonian, Mississippian, and Pennsylvanian periods (408-286 million years ago), the time interval when insects , reptiles, amphibians , and forests first appeared. A continental collision between Africa (Gondwanaland) and the North American plate formed a super-supercontinent (Pangaea) and raised the ancient Mauritanide mountain chain which once stretched from Morocco to Senegal. During the late Pennsylvanian period, layer upon layer of fossilized plants were deposited, forming seams of coal in Morocco and Algeria.

When Pangaea and later Gondwanaland split apart in the Cretaceous period (144-66 million years

ago), a shallow sea covered much of the northern Sahara and Egypt as far south as the Sudan. Arabia, subjected to many of the same geological and climatic influences as northern Africa, was thrust northward by tectonic movements at the end of the Oligocene and beginning of the Miocene epochs (around 30 million years ago). During the Oligocene and Miocene (5-35 million years ago; segments of the modern Cenozoic Era) bears , monkeys , deer , pigs , dolphins, and early apes first appeared.

Arabia at this time nearly broke away from Africa. The Mediterranean swept into the resulting rift, forming a gulf that was plugged by an isthmus at present-day Aden on the Arabian peninsula and Djibouti near Ethiopia. This gulf had the exact opposite configuration of today's Red Sea, which is filled by waters of the Indian Ocean.

As the Miocene epoch drew to a close about five million years ago, the isthmus of Suez was formed and the gulf (today's Red Sea) became a saline (salty) lake. During the Pliocene (5-1.6 million years ago) the Djibouti-Aden isthmus subsided, permitting the Indian Ocean to flow into the rift that is now the Red Sea.

Origin of Sahara desert

In the Pleistocene epoch (1.6-11,000 years ago), the Sahara was subjected to humid and then to dry and arid phases, spreading the Sahara Desert into adjacent forests and green areas. About 5,000-6,000 years ago in the post glacial period of our modern epoch, the Holocene, a further succession of dry and humid stages further promoted desertification in the Sahara as well as the Kalahari in southern Africa.

Earth scientists say the expansion of the Sahara is still very much in evidence today, causing the desertification of farm and grazing land and presenting the omnipresent specter of famine in the Sahel (Saharan) region.


Minerals and resources

Africa has the world's richest concentration of minerals and gems. In South Africa, the Bushveld Complex, one of the largest masses of igneous rock on Earth, contains major deposits of strategic metals such as platinum, chromium, and vanadium—metals that are indispensable in tool making and high tech industrial processes. The Bushveld complex is about 2 billion years old.

Another spectacular intrusion of magmatic rocks composed of olivine, augite, and hypersthene occurred in the Archean Eon over 2.5 billion years ago in Zimbabwe. Called the Great Dyke, it contains substantial deposits of chromium, asbestos , and nickel. Almost all of the world's chromium reserves are found in Africa. Chromium is used to harden alloys, to produce stainless steels, as an industrial catalyst, and to provide corrosion resistance.

Unique eruptions that occurred during the Cretaceous in southern and central Africa formed kimberlite pipes—vertical, near-cylindrical rock bodies caused by deep melting in the upper mantle. Kimberlite pipes are the main source of gem and industrial diamonds in Africa. Africa contains 40% of the world's diamond reserves, which occur in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, and Zaire.

In South Africa uranium is to be found side-by-side with gold, thus decreasing costs of production. Uranium deposits are also found in Niger, Gabon, Zaire, and Namibia. South Africa alone contains half the world's gold reserves. Mineral deposits of gold also occur in Zimbabwe, Zaire, and Ghana. Alluvial gold (eroded from soils and rock strata by rivers ) can be found in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, and Gabon.

As for other minerals, half of the world's cobalt is in Zaire and a continuation into Zimbabwe of Zairian cobalt-bearing geological formations gives the former country sizable reserves of cobalt as well. One quarter of the world's aluminum ore is found in a coastal belt of West Africa stretching 1,200 mi (1,920 km) from Guinea to Togo, with the largest reserves in Guinea.

Major coal deposits exist in southern Africa, North Africa, Zaire, and Nigeria. And North Africa is awash in petroleum reserves, particularly in Libya, Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia. Nigeria is the biggest petroleum producer in West Africa, but Cameroon, Gabon, and the Congo also contain oil reserves. There are also petroleum reserves in southern Africa, chiefly in Angola.

Most of Africa's iron reserves are in western Africa, with the most significant deposits in and around Liberia, Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and Mauritania. In West Africa as well as in South Africa where iron deposits are also found, the ore is bound up in Precambrian rock strata.


Modern-day climatic and environmental factors

Africa, like other continents, has been subjected to gyrating swings in climate during the Quartenary period of the last 2 million years. These climatic changes have had dramatic affects on landforms and vegetation. Some of these cyclical changes may have been driven by cosmic or astronomical phenomena including asteroid and comet collisions.

But the impact of humankind upon the African environment has been radical and undeniable. Beginning 2,000 years ago and accelerating to our present day, African woodland belts have been deforested. Such environmental degradation has been exacerbated by over-grazing, agricultural abuse, and man-made climatic change, including possible global warming caused by the buildup of man-made carbon dioxide , chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other greenhouse gases.


Deforestation, desertification, and soil erosion pose threats to Africa's man-made lakes and thereby Africa's hydroelectric capacity. Africa's multiplying and undernourished populations exert ever greater demands on irrigated agriculture but the continent's water resources are increasingly taxed beyond their limits. To stabilize Africa's ecology and safeguard its resources and mineral wealth, many earth scientists say greater use must be made of sustainable agricultural and pastoral practices. Progress in environmental and resource management, as well as population control is also vital.

Resources

books

Hancock P. L. and Skinner B. J., eds. The Oxford Companion to the Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Petters, Sunday W. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences Series. Vol 40, Regional Geology of Africa. New York: Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., 1991.


Periodicals

Leroux, M. "The Meteorology And Climate Of Tropical Africa." Journal of Meteorology 27, no. 271 (2002): 274.


Robert Cohen

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Composite volcano

—A large, steep-sided volcano made of alternating sequences of lava and pyroclastic debris. Sometimes called a stratovolcano.

Craton

—A piece of a continent that has remained intact since Earth's earliest history, and which functions as a foundation, or basement, for more recent pieces of a continent.

Gondwanaland

—An ancestral supercontinent that broke into the present continents of Africa, South America, Antarctica, and Australia as well as the Indian subcontinent.

Graben

—A block of land that has dropped down between the two sides of a fault to form a deep valley.

Lava domes

—Small dome-shaped masses of volcanic rock formed in the vent of a volcano.

Paleoclimatologist

—A geologist who studies climates of the earth's geologic past.

Swells

—Rock strata warped upward by heat and pressure.

Volcanic neck

—A usually tall, steep mountain of lava rock that solidified in the volcano's throat, stopping up the volcano as it became extinct.

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Africa

Africa

T he African continent is divided by one of the most impenetrable natural boundaries in the world: the Sahara Desert. Covering an area larger than the continental United States, this greatest of all deserts ensured that northern Africa—Egypt and the Mediterranean coast—would develop along dramatically different lines than the southern part. Aside from Egypt itself, the two principal African civilizations of ancient times formed on the Red Sea coast, below Egypt and east of the Sahara. Southward lay various lands controlled by the Bantu peoples, tribal groups who would later develop a number of civilizations.

Ethiopia

The name "Ethiopia" comes from a Greek expression meaning "burned skin" and suggesting a dark complexion. Ancient peoples used the term to describe the entire region south of Egypt, but in fact these were two distinct civilizations there: Kush, or Nubia, and Aksum. Founded along the southern Nile River, where the nation of Sudan is today, Kush controlled Egypt for a time (712–667 b.c.) and developed its own form of writing. To the east was Aksum, based in the Red Sea port of Adulis (ah-DOO-lis), in modern-day Eritrea.

Aksum began evolving into a larger Ethiopian state when its King Ezana (AY-zah-nah; ruled a.d. 325–360) subdued Kush in 325. Around this time, a young Syrian missionary converted Ezana to Christianity, which became the religion of Ethiopia from that time forward. Meanwhile, across the Red Sea in an area known as the "incense states," a lush region known for its spices, the Himyarite kingdom of Yemen had made Judaism its religion. Eager to gain control of the "incense states," Ethiopia formed an alliance with Byzantium against the Sassanid Persians and their allies in Yemen. Between the 300s and 500s, Ethiopia gradually assumed control over the "incense states," though much of the area later fell under Persian authority.

Isolated by Islam

In the 600s, the spread of Islam wiped the Sassanids off the map, but this was no cause for rejoicing in Ethiopia. The Muslims dealt a severe blow to Ethiopia's Byzantine allies when they took control over most of the Middle East. Many Greek manuscripts were destroyed during this time, and some only survived through Ethiopian translations. Meanwhile, Muslim power ended Ethiopians' dominance over Red Sea trade and cut Ethiopia off from the rest of the Christian world.

Words to Know: Africa

Arid:
Dry.
Inflation:
An economic situation in which an oversupply of money causes a drop in the value of currency.
Lingua franca:
A common language.
Matrilineal:
Through the mother's line rather than the father's.
Patron:
A supporter, particularly of arts, education, or sciences. The term is often used to refer to a ruler or wealthy person who provides economic as well as personal support.
Racism:
The belief that race is the primary factor determining peoples' abilities, and that one race is superior to another.

Gradually the nation's focus shifted away from the Red Sea and toward the Nubian interior. In the centuries that followed, large Muslim populations formed along the Red Sea coast and in southern Ethiopia, and Jewish communities appeared in other areas of the country. Yet Christianity remained dominant, and a line of kings who claimed descent from the biblical King Solomon and Queen of Sheba maintained control. Christians in southern Muslim lands such as Egypt looked to Ethiopia for leadership, and this in turn may have influenced Europeans' association of the country with the Prester John legend (see box, "Prester John").

Contacts with Europe

During the latter part of the Crusades, leaders in Ethiopia and Europe entertained the idea of an alliance against the Muslims. In 1317, a Dominican monk called for a joint crusade, with Ethiopia blocking the Red Sea while the Europeans attacked the Holy Land. Though the Muslim world feared such a two-pronged attack, nothing ever came of it.

European interest in Ethiopia remained strong during the 1400s, as the Portuguese tried to establish trade links and gain an edge over Venice in the spice trade. This period also saw exchanges of missionaries between Europe and Ethiopia, and in fact Ethiopian monks attended the Council of Florence in 1441. As an outgrowth of this visit, the papacy set up a house for Ethiopian pilgrims behind St. Peter's. Later Ethiopian visitors to Rome helped increase Europeans' interest in, and knowledge of, their exotic Christian homeland.

The Sudan

Though in modern times there is a nation called Sudan, geographers use the term "the Sudan" to describe a region of some two million square miles south of the Sahara. About the size of the United States west of the Mississippi River, the Sudan runs from the Atlantic coast in the west almost to the Red Sea coast in the east. Its climate is arid, or dry, and farming is difficult, but during the Middle Ages the region became home to a number of wealthy empires.

Prester John

During the Middle Ages, people all over Europe came to believe in the existence of Prester John, or John the Priest, a Christian king in a faraway land who they believed would come to their aid against the Muslims. This legend first took form in the writings of Otto of Freising (FRY-sing; c. 1111–1158), a German bishop and historian, who claimed that Prester John was a descendant of the Magi (MAY-zhy), the wise men who had attended the birth of Jesus. According to Otto, Prester John's armies had conquered the Persians and forced the Muslims to submit to Christianity.

In 1165, a letter supposedly written by Prester John to several European monarchs turned up in Europe. His land, the letter-writer claimed, was a perfect society in which everyone was wealthy, a place where peace and contentment prevailed. Some Europeans believed that this land must be Ethiopia, known to have a Christian king; therefore in 1177, Pope Alexander III sent a letter to Ethiopia's king, asking for his aid against Muslim enemies. The messenger never returned.

Europeans also identified the homeland of Prester John with India, and the king himself with the Mongols. The myth persisted into the 1500s and 1600s, spurring on the voyages of European explorers eager to find the mythical Christian kingdom.

Ghana

The first of these was Ghana (GAH-nuh), a kingdom that came into existence during the 400s in what is now southern Mauritania. Despite the climate, its people were originally farmers, but over time Ghana's wealth came from a number of sources. One of these was conquest: by the 1000s Ghana had an army of some 200,000 men. A principal source of Ghana's wealth was gold, so plentiful that the king's advisors carried swords made of it. His horses bore blankets of spun gold, and even the royal dogs had gold collars. The king, whose people considered him divine, held absolute control over the gold supply, and further increased his wealth by taxing trade caravans that passed through the area.

Ghana's capital was Kumbi-Saleh, formed from two towns about six miles apart. One town became a local center for Islam, which merchants brought with them from across the desert, and eventually it had twelve mosques. This created an unusual religious situation: officially the king still consulted the wisdom of his traditional priests, but in private he held council with Muslim lawyers and theologians.

The other town remained a stronghold of the native religion, and there Islamic practices were not permitted in public because they might challenge the spiritual authority of the king. Perhaps the influence of Islam helped make Ghana vulnerable to attack by the Almoravids from Morocco, who arrived in 1080. The people of Ghana did not unite to resist the conquerors, and their kingdom came to an end.

Mali

Many nations created in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries share names with regions from premodern times, but in many cases the borders are not the same. Such is the case with Mali (MAH-lee), a kingdom that included nations to the southwest of modern-day Mali, along with a corner of the present nation.

Mali formed as an Islamic kingdom in the 1000s, but took shape as an empire under the leadership of Sundiata Keita (sun-JAH-tah; died 1255), who established his power through a series of conquests that began in about 1235. He greatly broadened the realm controlled by Mali and established a new capital at Niana. By the 1300s, his dynasty ruled some 40 million people—a population twofifths the size of Europe at the time— in a region from the upper Niger River (NY-jur) to the Atlantic Ocean.

Mansa Musa (ruled 1307–c.1332) reigned at the height of Mali's power, and became the first African ruler to become widely known throughout Europe and the Middle East. His fame resulted in part from a pilgrimage to Mecca, on which he was attended by thousands of advisors and servants dressed in splendid garments, riding animals adorned with gold ornaments. Along the way, he gave his hosts generous gifts, and in Egypt spent so much gold that he caused massive inflation in the country's economy.

But Mansa Musa was far more than just a showman: an effective administrator who ruled a highly organized state, he was also a patron of the arts and education. He brought Muslim scholars and architects to Mali, where they built mosques, promoted learning, and assisted his advisors in ruling the vast realm.

As with many other great rulers, however, Mansa Musa's power resided mostly in his strong personality and talents; therefore his successors found the vast empire difficult to govern. They were plagued by the breakdown of administrative systems and by the competition of rising states on their borders. One of these was Songhai (SAWNG-hy), which Mansa Musa had conquered; in the mid-1400s, as his dynasty fell into decline, Songhai won its independence.

Songhai

Established by Muslims in about 1000 on the bend of the Niger, at a spot in the center of present-day Mali, Songhai would eventually extend along much of the river's length and far inland. For a long time it had existed under the shadow of Mali, but it came into its own under Sonni Ali (SAW-nee; ruled c. 1464–92), a brilliant military strategist and empire-builder who in 1468 captured the city of Timbuktu. One of Mali's greatest cultural centers, Timbuktu was destined to reach its peak under Songhai rule (see box, "The Glory of Timbuktu").

The Glory of Timbuktu

Today the name of "Timbuktu" is a synonym for a faraway, almost mythical place, and in modern times the city of some 30,000 inhabitants—now known as Tombouctou (tohn-buk-TOO) in Mali—is certainly well off the beaten path. But under the Mali and Songhai empires, it was one of the most extraordinary cultural centers of premodern Africa, and indeed of the world.

Starting in the 1400s, Europeans became fascinated by tales of a great city on the edge of the desert, which housed both wealthy merchants and scholars wealthy in knowledge. In 1470, an Italian journeyer became one of the first Europeans to visit, and more information surfaced with the publication of a book called Description of Africa in 1550.

Written by Leo Africanus (c. 1485–c.1554), an Arab captured and brought to Rome, the book remained for many centuries Europeans' principal source of knowledge regarding the Sudan. Leo reported that, of the many products sold in the rich markets of Timbuktu, none was more prized and profitable than books—a fact that says a great deal about the rich intellectual life there.

Unfortunately, a series of wars and invasions by neighboring peoples during the early modern era robbed Timbuktu of its glory. In 1828, a French explorer went to find the legendary Timbuktu, and in its place he found a "mass of ill-looking houses built of earth."

Sonni Ali conquered many more cities, ending Mali dominance and replacing it with his military dictatorship. His successor, Mohammed I Askia (as-KEE-uh; ruled 1493–1528), set about reorganizing the entire empire, creating a central administration controlled from the capital in Gao (GOW). He developed a professional army and even a navy of sorts—a fleet of canoes that regularly patrolled the Niger.

Mohammed also reformed the tax system, established a set of weights and measures, and reformed judicial procedures. Over the course of his reign, he made the Songhai Empire one of the most respected nations in the Islamic world. In 1528, however, his son Musa overthrew him and exiled him to an island. Nine years later, another son brought him back to Gao, where he died in 1538. His tomb is one of the most revered mosques in West Africa.

As with Mali, the death of a strong ruler brought on disorder; and as with Ghana, the conquerors came from Morocco. They arrived in 1590, and this time they had firearms, giving them an overwhelming advantage. Songhai fell in 1591.

Kanem-Bornu and the Hausa city-states

Far to the east of the area where Ghana, Mali, and Songhai had thrived was an area called Bornu, a vast plain in what is now northeastern Nigeria. With the downfall of the earlier states, trade routes—dependent as they were on strong kingdoms to provide them protection—began shifting toward the central Sudan, which was dominated by two centers of power. To the east was Kanem-Bornu (kah-NEM), a state that first developed in about 800, and to the west a group of city-states controlled by the Hausa (HOW-suh) people.

Both Kanem-Bornu and the Hausa lands had a matrilineal (mat-ri-LIN-ee-ul) system, meaning that inheritance was passed down through the mother's line rather than the father's. This gave women an exceptionally high social status, and they were even allowed to hold positions in regional and national government. The adoption of Islam in the 1000s and afterward ended this arrangement.

The Hausa states never formed a unified political entity, which made them vulnerable to attack by neighboring states and ultimately led to their downfall. Kanem-Bornu, on the other hand, did form an empire, which reached the height of its power in the late 1500s. By then, however, the Sudan was not the only location of trade routes across the African continent: the interest of European and Arab traders had shifted to the southwest and the south.

Bantu kingdoms and cities

Starting in about 1200 b.c., the Bantu peoples began migrating from the region of modern-day Nigeria, spreading westward and southward. The Bantu constituted a loose collection of tribes and nations united by language. In each of the Bantu tongues, of which there were eventually sixteen, the word for "people" is the same: bantu.

Though Westerners are accustomed to speaking of "Africa" as though it were one country, in fact modern Africa consists of more than

fifty official nations—and hundreds upon hundreds of national groups with their own language and way of life. In such an ethnically splintered environment, the average African language has only a half-million speakers. By contrast, Swahili (swah-HEEL-ee), the most well known of the Bantu languages, is today spoken by 49 million people in Kenya, Tanzania, the Congo, and Uganda.

Swahili is the lingua franca of southern Africa, a common language much as Arabic became in the Middle East and as Latin was among educated Europeans of the Middle Ages. No doubt Swahili's broad base has its roots in medieval times, specifically in a group of east African city-states with trade contacts as far away as China.

Coastal city-states

The east African coast had been a center of trade since ancient times, and during the 1100s a wave of Arab and Persian merchants arrived. Over the period from 1200 to 1500, when trade there was at its height, the native peoples and the Muslims together established some thirty-seven city-states in what is now Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Most notable among these were Malindi, Mombasa, Kilwa, and later, Zanzibar.

Typically, city-states lay on islands just off the coast, a situation that protected them from land invasion. Indeed, the mainland represented a different world: in the interior were tribal peoples with little exposure to the outside, whereas the offshore islands became thriving centers of international trade. Kilwa was the major port for gold, which went through Egypt to Europe, and iron ore from Malindi supplied the furnaces of India.

The coastal city-states also served as ports of call for Admiral Cheng Ho's expeditions from China. A Ming dynasty scroll commemorates a most unusual event: the arrival of a giraffe from Malindi at the Chinese emperor's court in 1415. After about 1500, however, merchant activity in East Africa began to die out, primarily because of the Europeans' rising dominance of sea trade.

Zimbabwe and Mutapa

In the early 1500s the Portuguese began penetrating East Africa's interior, laying the foundations of the colony called Mozambique (moh-zum-BEEK), which they would retain until 1975. In so doing, they established control over a kingdom called Mutapa, which ruled the entire southern half of Mozambique between the Zambezi (zam-BEE-zee) and Limpopo rivers. As it turned out, the eastern kingdom of Mutapa was an extension of an even older realm controlled from Zimbabwe (zim-BAHB-way).

The Zanj

Though Europeans and their descendants in America are most identified with the slave trade, in fact slavery existed in Africa for centuries before the first Europeans arrived in the 1400s. Not only did Africans buy and sell members of other tribes, but Arab and Persian merchants were enthusiastic slave-traders.

The first Mideastern reference to sub-Saharan Africans, whom the Muslims called Zanj (ZAHNJ), occurred in about 680. These writings prove that racism is nothing new: frequently Islamic writers described the Zanj as their social inferiors, a lazy and dishonest people, and they often commented negatively on the black skin of the Zanj. Yet the Muslims also believed that the Zanj possessed magical powers.

Because the Africans on the continent's east coast admired the Arabs, this made them easy targets for capture. Many of the Zanj were brought to serve as slaves in the Abbasid caliphate, and in 868 a revolt broke out among them. For nearly fifteen years, the rebels controlled much of southern Iraq, but by 883 the Muslim government had suppressed the revolt.

The latter reached its peak between 1250 and 1450, when it thrived on a flourishing gold trade. Its ruins

lie in the southeastern corner of the modern nation called Zimbabwe, though in fact there are two sets of ruins: Great Zimbabwe, older and larger, and Little Zimbabwe some eight miles distant. The most impressive set of stone buildings in premodern southern Africa, Great Zimbabwe extended over more than sixty acres, and included a palace capable of housing a thousand servants. Its circular temple complex, modeled on a tribal chief's enclosure, had walls ten feet thick and twenty feet high, comprising some 15,000 tons of cut stone—all laid without use of mortar.

Though the people of Zimbabwe left behind no written records and the city had long been abandoned when the Portuguese arrived, the royal court of Mutapa in the east provided visitors with an idea of Zimbabwe's glory. The king was attended by a royal pharmacist, a head musician, young pages who had been sent as hostages from subject peoples, and many other aides—including a council of ministers composed primarily of women. Apparently at some earlier stage in Mutapa, women had been in control. There was even a female military contingent, which played a decisive role in the choosing of kings.

Kongo

Far to the northwest of Zimbabwe, along the mouth of the Congo River near the Atlantic coast, was the kingdom of Kongo. The area is today part of Angola, which like Mozambique became a Portuguese colony that only received its independence in 1975. Today, to the north and east, in areas also controlled by Kongo at different times, are the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).

Established in the 1300s by a prince from the north, Kongo spread over a large area in the years that followed. By the time the Portuguese arrived in the 1400s, the nation had developed an extensive bureaucracy. Its economy depended on trade between the coast and the interior, and copper and cloth served as its currency. Perhaps its greatest king was Afonso I (ruled c. 1506–c. 1550), who in 1512 signed a treaty with the king of Portugal. Kongo continued to flourish into the 1600s.

Benin and the Yoruba

As with many another African nation, the modern state of Benin (bay-NEEN) shares a name with an empire of medieval times, but it is not the same country. What is today southern Nigeria was once Benin, which established one of the most highly organized states of West Africa in the two centuries preceding the arrival of the Portuguese in 1485. As with most other African kingdoms, Benin built its wealth on trade, in this case between the Atlantic coast and the Sudan.

The people of Benin were not the only ones who profited from the trade routes between the ocean and the desert. To the west, in what is now Burkina Faso, the Mossi and Yoruba peoples (who later formed a state called Oyo) settled along the upper headwaters of the Volta River. This placed them in close proximity with Mali and Songhai, but the peoples of the Volta were worlds apart from their neighbors to the north. In contrast to the Muslim kingdoms of the Sudan, which maintained strong links with the outside world, the peoples of the coast retained their traditional African religion and way of life.

For More Information

Books

Davidson, Basil. African Kingdoms. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1978.

Dijkstra, Henk, editor. History of the Ancient and Medieval World, Volume 11: Empires of the Ancient World. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1996, pp. 1543–54.

McKissack, Pat. The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay: Life in Medieval Africa. New York: Henry Holt, 1994.

Web Sites

"African Empires Timeline." [Online] Available http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum211/timelines/htimeline2.htm (last accessed July 28, 2000).

Internet African History Sourcebook. [Online] Available http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/africa/africasbook.html (last accessed July 28, 2000).

Medieval Africa. [Online] Available http://historymedren.about.com/education/history/historymedren/msubafr.htm (last accessed July 28, 2000).

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Africa

Africa

It is not known exactly when tobacco was introduced to Africa. However, it is generally accepted that the Portuguese were the first to take tobacco to Africa, probably sometime in the early-to-mid-sixteenth century. It appears that within fifty years of Vasco da Gama's historic circumnavigation of the world in 1497–1499, Portuguese merchants were trading tobacco along the east coast of Africa. In that same period, the Portuguese also introduced tobacco into West Africa through a series of trading posts they were establishing along the coast.

The Early Propagation of Tobacco

Following its introduction along the east and west coasts, tobacco spread into the interior of Africa fairly rapidly. Its cultivation moved quickly eastward from the coastal regions of modern-day Senegal, along the trade routes of interior West Africa during the later half of the sixteenth century, and into the region north of the lakes Nyanza (formerly Victoria) and Albert in east-central Africa by the mid-seventeenth century. Christopher Ehret has demonstrated that "we can track this diffusion through the spread of a single word, taba, for tobacco all the way across Africa" (Ehret 2002). By the early 1600s European traders visiting the area of present-day Sierra Leone reported that local Africans were cultivating tobacco next to their homes, that both men and women were smoking, and that they were trading tobacco, along with indigenous produce like bananas, rice, and wood, to crews of European ships.

Tobacco was introduced into other parts of Africa no later than the middle of the seventeenth century. It apparently spread into the interior of the Saharan region of North Africa, along centuries-old caravan routes, after being introduced by the Portuguese to the coastal zones of the southern Mediterranean Sea in the first decade of the seventeenth century. The Portuguese also traded tobacco in the northeast region of Africa, where it was grown extensively in the southern provinces of the area that is modern-day Ethiopia.

The Dutch facilitated the spread of tobacco through the southern regions of the continent, introducing it into the Cape region of modern-day South Africa in the middle of the 1600s. The Dutch East Indies Company first established a trading post at the Cape in 1652 and reportedly immediately began to cultivate tobacco. It sold tobacco to crews of primarily company-owned ships on their way to, or returning from, the Company's principle trading areas of Indonesia, and used tobacco as one of several trade items to induce the local Khoikhoi pastoralists to supply the Company with cattle. The meat from slaughtered cattle was then used to refit Dutch ships stopping at the Cape. By the end of that century, the Company had taken the land from many Khoikhoi, who increasingly took jobs on Dutch-owned estates in order to survive. It has been reported that one of the main attractions for the Khoikhoi working on these estates was the tobacco provided by their employers as part of their wages. From this initial introduction of tobacco at the southernmost tip of Africa, it followed traditional trade routes into south-central Africa, reaching areas north of the Zambezi River by the early eighteenth century at the latest.

Iain Gately has partially explained this extremely rapid dispersal of tobacco throughout the African continent by noting that "Africans already had pipe and smoking cultures of their own" prior to the introduction of tobacco during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Gately argues that African peoples "had long had an herbal friend whose fumes they drank. Cannabis , or dagga, as this other combustible weed was known, was valued for its psychoactive properties, in particular its ability to generate sensations of well-being." In addition, some African peoples, such as the Masai pastoralists of East Africa, while not smoking tobacco, did develop an affinity for sniffing finely ground tobacco leaf (Gately 2001). For whatever reason, it is clearly evident that African peoples across the continent had taken up the smoking of tobacco by the mid- to late 1600s. This assertion is supported by accounts made by Europeans travelers in Africa during this period. From a 1607 account by the British merchant William Finch, as noted in Berthod Laufer's "The Introduction of Tobacco into Africa" (1930), inhabitants of Sierra Leone planted tobacco

about every man's house, which seemeth half their food; the bowl of their tobacco pipe is very large. . . . In the lower end thereof they thrust in a small hollow cane, a foot and a half long, through which they suck it . . . both men and women . . . each man carrying in his snap-sack a small purse (called tuffio) full of tobacco, and his pipe.

Seventy-five years later the Dutch trader O.F. von der Groeben reported that the people of the same area "smoke tobacco—men, women and children indiscriminately, and are so fond of its fumes that they inhale them not only at daytime, but also at night hang small bags of tobacco around their necks like a precious gem." Twenty years later, W. Bosman, a British trader, observed that the people of the Guinea coast, north of Sierra Leone, "were so passionately fond of tobacco that they gladly sacrificed their last penny to get it, and would rather hunger than be without it" (Laufer).

Tobacco's Role in African Trade

From the mid-seventeenth century to the early decades of the nineteenth century, tobacco played an important role in the transatlantic trade. The primary areas concerned were Brazil in South America, the coastal and hinterland zones of the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) in West Africa, the Congo River basin, and Angola. In the period between 1637 and 1642, the Dutch replaced the Portuguese as the principal European trading power along the West African coast. However, the Dutch merchants soon realized that their ability to trade with the local peoples was greatly restricted because they did not have access to the one trade item most favored by Africans in the area—tobacco produced in the Bahia region of Portuguese Brazil. Africans along this stretch of the West African coast valued a particular type of Bahian tobacco—a thirdgrade tobacco manufactured from scrap, or rejected leaves, from the best quality plants, rolled into the form of a thick rope, and then soaked with molasses. To rectify this problem the Dutch were forced to allow Portuguese traders to import tobacco, but no other goods, from Bahia into those areas of West Africa controlled by the Dutch. Portuguese ships from Brazil were obliged to stop at the Dutch fort at Elmina, in present-day Ghana, to have their cargoes inspected and to pay a tax of ten percent of their tobacco. Although Portuguese ships avoided stopping at the fort whenever possible, the system succeeded because both sides benefited from the arrangement. The Portuguese needed to procure African slaves for their plantations in Brazil, and the Dutch got the Bahian tobacco they required to trade with local Africans. That trade could be very profitable. For instance, in the first decades of the eighteenth century Africans were willing to trade a pound of ivory for every ten pounds of Bahian tobacco.

The tobacco growers of Bahia were the only ones to perfect this type of manufacturing process and were therefore able to establish a monopoly of trade for this particular type of tobacco. C. R. Boxer, a historian of the Portuguese Empire, notes in The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415–1825 (1969) that "the monopoly of this third-grade Bahian tobacco consequently gave the Portuguese an advantage over all their European rivals for the whole of the eighteenth century." In his Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730–1830 (1988) the historian Joseph Miller has added that "given the African smokers' partiality toward the Bahian leaf, it became a small gold mine in itself for the growers and merchants—sometimes literally so, since Bahians sold it also to the Dutch on the Gold Coast for African gold."

By the eighteenth century tobacco was not only an important part of trade relations between Africans and Europeans, it had also become an important component of trade between African societies. For example, in the Congo River basin tobacco was grown by Africans who traded it, along with locally produced alcohol, for salt, cassava, and palm cooking oil. Further south, along the fringes of Portuguese-controlled Angola, Africans in the Kwango valley grew large amounts of tobacco and exported their surpluses into areas to the east of Portuguese control. A final example, from the early nineteenth century, was reported from central Angola, where local African farmers participated in sophisticated dealings, exchanging tobacco for beeswax.

Domestic Cultivation of Tobacco

Historical evidence for the propagation and use of tobacco in the interiors of eastern and southern Africa is limited for the period prior to the mid-nineteenth century. However, existing evidence demonstrates clearly that tobacco had long been incorporated into both the economies and social habits of the peoples of those regions by that period. In the late eighteenth century tobacco was one of four new crops introduced into the northeastern part of present-day Tanzania. People grew small amounts of tobacco around their homes, primarily for personal use. They packed surpluses into small, round, hard cakes known as mzungu, which could be exchanged in local markets for billy goats or other consumer goods. The tobacco was usually consumed as snuff , but older men were reported to also smoke it in pipes.

In another part of Tanzania in this same period, men of the Shambaa kingdom sold surplus tobacco and bought cattle in local markets, while others took theirs to trade on the coast. During the middle of the nineteenth century three British explorers, Richard Burton, David Livingstone, and Henry Stanley, all "noted the ubiquity of tobacco and found time to marvel at African pipe design" (Gately). In 1879 a European visitor to the central Tanzanian coast reported the abundant growth of tobacco in the territory, and in 1896 a German named Schele reported that tobacco was commonly grown in the same region, along with millet, maize, and rice.

In southern Africa during the nineteenth century, Africans also grew tobacco both for personal use and as a trade commodity. After Brazil won its independence from Portugal in 1822, Portuguese colonial officials began to encourage African farmers in Angola to increase their production of tobacco and a number of other crops that they had been producing for internal trade purposes for at least one hundred years. In South Africa, the Thlaping people initially avoided growing tobacco, but after missionaries introduced both irrigation and a new variety of tobacco in mid-century, they began to grow it fairly extensively and used it in trade with neighboring peoples. T. M. Thomas, a missionary to the Ndebele kingdom in southwestern Zimbabwe from 1859 to 1870, noted that not only did every Ndebele village he visited have its own tobacco crop, but the Ndebele also imported a large quantity of tobacco, which they smoked in pipes, from Shangwe growers in central Zimbabwe. The Shangwe people specialized in growing and air-curing large quantities of tobacco, which they then traded throughout the regions of modern-day Zimbabwe and southern Mozambique. Finally, in the late 1800s, King Khama III of the Ngwato people of present-day Botswana both encouraged his people to cultivate tobacco and grew it himself as a commercial crop.

By 1900 the European imperialist conquest of Africa was nearly complete, and in the period of European colonial rule that followed tobacco played an important part in several regions of Africa. For instance, in colonial Tanzania, following the failure of food crop production in several districts in the 1920s, the government encouraged African farmers to begin growing tobacco as a cash crop. While over 6,000 African farmers in the Songea district in the southcentral part of the territory eventually grew tobacco, the vast majority produced amounts too small to allow them to develop economic self-sufficiency. When tobacco farmers in that district attempted to form themselves into a growers' cooperative in the mid-1930s, in an attempt to maximize prices being paid by Asian buyers, the government refused to allow them to become a fully recognized organization, fearing that would threaten the governing system of the colony.

MALAWI. Tobacco was most significant in the British colonies of southern Africa. It was particularly vital to the colonial economy of Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), and its history is covered elsewhere in this collection. Another important tobacco region was colonial Malawi (formerly Nyasaland). Although local Africans were growing tobacco prior to the British occupation of the region in the early 1890s, flue-cured tobacco was first grown as a commercial crop by a European in 1889 and was first exported in 1893. At the time, that first small shipment of tobacco was described as the first tobacco imported into England from the empire since the loss of the American colonies. By the 1899–1900 growing season, over 1,300 kilograms of tobacco were exported, primarily to colonial Zimbabwe. After that, production increased at a rate of about 75 percent a year for the following decade, with exports reaching more than 1.7 million kilograms at the end of the 1912–1913 growing season.

Production continued to increase on European-owned farms, and tobacco became the colony's most valuable export. In 1928, however, overproduction in Malawi and its neighboring British colonies caused the price of tobacco to plummet on the English market. This resulted in a large number of growers abandoning their farms and a large reduction in Malawi's total production for the next several years. Another result was that African-produced, dark, fire-cured tobacco surpassed European-produced tobacco in export value for the first time in 1929. By 1950 African tobacco farmers were producing more than 10 million kilograms of tobacco annually, 89.6 percent of the country's total. That level of production dropped by nearly 20 percent at the beginning of the 1960s. However, following national independence in July 1964, production levels began to slowly recover as the postindependence government increased support for large estates that specialized in producing tobacco for export. Also, by the early 1970s the government encouraged small-scale farmers to increase their production of tobacco. As a result of these policies tobacco exports steadily grew and by 1994 had regained the 10 million kilogram annual level of production, making Malawi one of the world's top tobacco producers. It remains the country's major export crop and accounts for over 60 percent, by value, of Malawi's exports (Crosby 1993).

ZAMBIA. A third African colony where tobacco played an important role in the economy was Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia). While local African populations grew tobacco prior to European occupation in the early 1890s, European settlers only produced it for the first time in about 1914. By 1927 tobacco was Zambia's top export, but in the following year it was greatly affected by overproduction in Zambia and neighboring countries. Tobacco made a slight comeback as a commercial crop after World War II but never recovered pre-war production levels. At national independence in 1964 tobacco was primarily produced by African smallholders and had ceased to be a major export. It continued, however, to be produced for local consumption by Africans over the next twenty-five years. In the early 1990s the government introduced a land privatization policy and began to actively encourage tobacco production. While production levels rapidly rose, exports still accounted for only a small percentage of gross national product.

Late-Twentieth-Century Developments

By the 1990s, only Zimbabwe and Malawi could be considered major producers of tobacco by world standards, but a number of African states nonetheless became significant tobacco producers. In countries like Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, African peasant farmers took up tobacco production for export. This trend has not been generally supported by their governments but has not been discouraged either, as tobacco exports, although small, are valuable sources of foreign currency. For example, in June 2001 the United States Department of Agriculture reported that the trade value of African-produced tobacco had risen from approximately $125 million in 1961 to nearly $800 million in 1999.

Of equal, if not greater, concern for African governments has been the rising rate of smoking by both men and women, and particularly by children. While taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco goods have become important sources of revenue for cash-strapped African governments, increased smoking has also added to the health care costs and increased death rates in many countries. In 1999 a report by the Commonwealth Secretariat warned that by the year 2030 tobacco consumption was expected to be the biggest cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. The rise in consumption has resulted from both increased production in African countries and a major campaign across Africa by international tobacco companies to promote smoking. The International Non-Government Coalition Against Tobacco clearly stated the problem in 2000 when it announced that Africa "is now the target for profit accumulation by the [international] tobacco industry" (Masebu 2003).

See Also Brazil; British Empire; Dutch Empire; Portuguese Empire; Zimbabwe.

▌ STEVEN C. RUBERT

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Boahen, A. Adu, ed. Africa Under Colonial Domination, 1880–1935. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Boxer, C. R. The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415–1825. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1969.

Brooks, George E. Landlords and Strangers: Ecology, Society, and Trade in Western Africa, 1000–1630. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1993.

Crosby, Cynthia A. Historical Dictionary of Malawi, 2nd ed. Metuchen, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1993.

Ehret, Christopher. The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2002.

Elphick, Richard, and V. C. Malherbe. "The Khoisan to 1828." In The Shaping of South African Society, 1652–1840. Edited by Richard Elphick and Hermann Giliomee. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1988. Pp. 3–65.

Eltis, David. Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Feierman, Steven. The Shambaa Kingdom: A History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1974.

Gately, Iain. Tobacco: The Story of How Tobacco Seduced the World. London: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Goodman, Jordan. Tobacco in History: The Cultures of Dependence. London: Routledge, 1993.

Grotpeter, John J., Brian V. Siegel, and James R. Pletcher. Historical Dictionary of Zambia. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1998.

Iliffe, John. A Modern History of Tanganyika. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Kimambo, Isaria. "Environmental Control and Hunger in the Mountains and Plains of 19th-Century Northeast Tanzania." In Custodians of the Land: Ecology & Culture in the History of Tanzania. Edited by Gregory Maddox, James L. Giblin, and Isaria N. Kimambo. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1996. Pp. 71–95.

Kjekshus, Helge. Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History: The Case of Tanganyika, 1850–1950. London: Heinemann, 1977.

Kosmin, Barry. "The Inyoka Tobacco Industry of the Shangwe People: The Displacement of a Pre-Colonial Economy in Southern Rhodesia, 1898–1938." In The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and Southern Africa. Edited by Robin Palmer and Neil Parsons. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Pp. 268–288.

Laufer, Berthod. "The Introduction of Tobacco into Africa." In Tobacco and Its Use in Africa, by Berthod Laufer, Wilfrid D. Hamsley, and Ralph Linton. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1930. Pp. 1–15.

Masebu, Peter. "Africa Remains a Viable Market for Cigarette Companies" (18 September 2003). Available: <http://lists.essential.org.pipermail/intl-tobacco/2000q2/000164.html>.

Miller, Joseph Calder. Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730–1830. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

Newitt, Malyn. A History of Mozambique. London: Hurst & Company, 1995.

Northrup, David. Africa's Discovery of Europe, 1450–1850. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Ogot, B. A., ed. Africa from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Parsons, Neil. "The Economic History of Khama's Country in Botswana, 1844–1930." In The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and Southern Africa. Edited by Robin Palmer and Neil Parsons. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Pp. 113–143.

Philips, John Edward. "African Smoking and Pipes." Journal of African History 24 (1983). Pp. 303–319.

Rodney, Walter. A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545–1800. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.

Soremekun, Fola. "Trade and Dependency in Central Angola: The Ovimbundu in the Nineteenth Century." In The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and Southern Africa. Edited by Robin Palmer and Neil Parsons. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. Pp. 82–95.

Stinson, F. A. Tobacco Farming in Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 1889–1956. Salisbury: Tobacco Research Board of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 1956.

Thomas, Hugh. The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1870. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Zeleza, Tiyambe. A Modern Economic History of Africa. Dakar, Senegal: Codesria, 1993.

cannabis hemp-derived intoxicants such as marijuana and hashish.

psychoactive a drug having an effect on the mind of the user.

plantation historically, a large agricultural estate dedicated to producing a cash crop worked by laborers living on the property. Before 1865, plantations in the American South were usually worked by slaves.

snuff a form of powdered tobacco, usually flavored, either sniffed into the nose or "dipped," packed between cheek and gum. Snuff was popular in the eighteenth century but had faded to obscurity by the twentieth century.

air-curing the process of drying leaf tobacco without artificial heat. Harvested plants are hung in well-ventilated barns, allowing the free circulation of air throughout the leaves. Air-curing can take several weeks. Burley tobacco is air-cured.

cooperative a member-owned organization for buying or selling as a group rather than as individuals. In the early twentieth century, tobacco growers in several states attempted to form cooperatives to raise prices of leaf tobacco.

flue-cured tobacco also called Bright Leaf, a variety of leaf tobacco dried (or cured) in air-tight barns using artificial heat. Heat is distributed through a network of pipes, or flues, near the barn floor.

smallholders farmers and other rural folk who own modest-sized farms and provide their own labor.

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Africa

AFRICA

legitimate trade
east africa
southern africa
north africa
the scramble for africa
bibliography

In 1789 the Atlantic slave trade was at its height. During the final quarter of the eighteenth century nearly two million captured Africans were carried across the Atlantic to lives of servitude in the European colonies of the New World. The major slave-trading nations during this period were Britain, which carried 39 percent of the slaves, Portugal (33 percent), and France (22 percent), while the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, the United States, and the British Caribbean remained minor participants. The African regions most affected by the Atlantic slave trade were Congo-Angola, which provided 42 percent of the slaves, Biafra (19 percent), the Bight of Benin (14 percent), and the Gold Coast (13 percent).

Throughout the eighteenth century, the sources of African captives had moved steadily inland from the coastal regions. By 1789 the majority of the captives shipped from the Senegal and Gambia rivers came from Segu and Kaarta along the middle Niger Valley, some five hundred to eight hundred miles from the coast. Similarly, most of the slaves coming out of Angola had been captured during the wars of the expanding Lunda Empire, more than seven hundred miles from the coast. At the mouth of the Congo River, slaves were coming from as far away as the lower Ubangi, nearly seven hundred miles away. Along the Gold Coast and the Bight of Benin, the captives sold by the Asante Empire at the end of the eighteenth century came mostly from northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso, and captives sold by the kingdom of Dahomey came from as far away as the Hausa states of northern Nigeria.

Enslavement was devastating to its millions of victims, and the warfare that accompanied it resulted in countless plundered villages and burned fields. At the same time, the ruling and merchant classes in African slave-trading societies accumulated large amounts of wealth in the form of luxury goods such as imported cloth, spirits, and bodily adornments that increased the differences in social status between those who had access to them and those who did not. The muskets, cannons, and gunpowder that poured into Africa at this time strengthened the military establishments in kingdoms such as Dahomey, Asante, Kayor, and Bawol, and led to the rise of warlord states in Angola. There is no evidence that the European and Asian goods that entered Africa by the shipload led to significant increases in productivity or to structural changes that put African economies on a path toward capitalist development. African trading states were exporting labor in exchange for luxury goods and military equipment, creating a bubble of prosperity for the ruling and merchant classes that was threatened when the Atlantic slave trade ended.

Between 1802 and 1818, the governments of Denmark, England, the United States, France, and Holland outlawed the transportation of slaves across the Atlantic, even though slavery itself remained legal throughout the New World. The British sent out naval squadrons to cruise the West African coast and occasionally to blockade major slaving ports. In 1808 they established the colony of Freetown on the Sierra Leone peninsula, which they used as a naval base for antislavery squadrons and as a resettlement colony for Africans who had been liberated from slave ships. But these measures had limited effect because both European traders and African merchants became adept at slave smuggling.

One of the most notorious slave smugglers was Felix De Sousa, the governor of the slaving port of Whydah in the kingdom of Dahomey. Born in Brazil of mixed parentage, De Souza came to Dahomey to work in the Portuguese fort, but soon established himself as an independent trader. He used his friendship with the Dahomian King Gezo to gain an appointment as the governor of Whydah. He controlled commerce of the port from 1820 until his death in 1849 and gained a reputation as a master at slave smuggling. The British captured thirty of the slave ships that he loaded, but a quarter of a million slaves left Whydah and neighboring ports during De Souza's administration. In a similar fashion, the maze of creeks and waterways that made up the Niger River delta provided ideal cover for slave smugglers. Bonny and Kalabari, the leading slave ports of the Niger delta, continued to export slaves until 1837, when the British navy began concentrating its squadrons at the major delta ports. The town of Nembe, hidden deep in the mangrove swamps, thrived on the slave trade until the Brazilian slave markets closed in the 1850s.

The main impediment to the British antislavery efforts was the fact that Portugal did not agree to outlaw the Atlantic slave trade until 1830, and even then did not make any attempt to implement the agreement until the 1850s. During the second quarter of the nineteenth century, the Portuguese slave trade from the Congo-Angola area remained at eighteenth-century levels, while illegal traders from the major European slave trading nations frequented the coast of southwest Africa to purchase slaves far from the reach of the British squadrons. Nearly half of all slaves taken from Africa during this period came from Congo-Angola, while another 15 percent came from southwest Africa.

With British squadrons and high slave prices along the West African coasts, some slave traders turned to the Indian Ocean coast of southern Africa. The Portuguese port at Mozambique Island, where slaves were cheap, became a major slaving port in the first half of the nineteenth century, when nearly four hundred thousand slaves from southeast Africa were sent to Brazil, San Domingo, and Martinique.

legitimate trade

By the 1830s it was clear to most West African rulers and merchants that the Atlantic slave trade was winding down, and they began to search for


new ways to maintain the flow of European and Asian imports. At this time, England and other European countries were entering the early stages of industrialization and were seeking new sources of tropical oils for industry and exotic luxury items for the middle classes. During the era of the slave trade, Europeans had always purchased hides, ivory, gold, gum copal, and other African products along with slaves, but they were focusing on finding new products to meet the demands of changing European economies.

One African product that attracted a great deal of European attention was palm oil, which was used in making soap and candles. Oil palms grew abundantly in the Niger River delta and its hinterland, and British purchases of palm oil grew from five thousand tons per year in 1827 to thirty thousand tons in 1853. By 1869 five British steamships per month were visiting the Niger delta to buy palm oil. African merchants who had formerly traded in slaves scrambled to develop inland territories where they could monopolize the palm oil trade. They purchased large numbers of slave laborers to load and unload the casks of palm oil for transportation in dugout canoes along the delta waterways. African palm oil merchants at the former slave trading port of Old Calabar developed palm plantations worked by slave laborers. Slaves thus continued to flow into the delta ports long after the Atlantic slave trade ended.

A similar economic transformation occurred in the kingdom of Dahomey, where slave smuggling proceeded simultaneously with the buildup of palm oil plantations. By the 1840s there were many palm oil plantations around the port cities of Whydah and Porto Novo and the capital city of Abomey. These plantations were worked by slaves, who tended the trees and engaged in the laborious processes of extracting the oil from the fruit and transporting it to the ports. In 1851 Abomey was home to ten thousand slaves out of a total population of thirty thousand, and in 1855 there was a revolt of Yoruba slaves on the Abomey plateau. The transition from the slave trade to what the British called "legitimate trade" thus had the ironic effect of increasing the use of slave labor within Africa.

During the era of the slave trade, the kingdoms in the West African region bounded by the Senegal and Gambia rivers had developed a class of professional horse-mounted soldiers known as Cheddo. When the Atlantic slave trade ended, the Cheddo lost a valuable source of income, and they began to pillage agricultural villages in search of booty and captives, whom they sold into trans-Saharan slave trade to North Africa.

In 1840 the French discovered that peanut oil could be mixed with palm oil to make good soap, and they began to buy peanuts from the African peasants, who increased their production and often used the proceeds to buy guns to defend themselves from the Cheddo. As peanut exports rose from five thousand tons in 1854 to eighty thousand tons in 1882, gun battles between Muslim peasants and bands of marauding Cheddo warriors became more frequent. Cheddo war bands would even go into the village fields and uproot peanut plants in a vain attempt to halt the peanut trade.

In the Congo-Angola region, there were no agricultural products in great demand by the Europeans, but the rising middle class in Europe was creating a new demand for ivory that would be carved into piano keys, billiard balls, combs, fans, and other fineries. Whereas ivory from West African elephants was hard and suitable mainly for knife handles, equatorial African ivory was softer and could be carved into ornate objects and exquisite designs. The price of ivory at Luanda shot up 300 percent after the Portuguese government abolished its monopoly in 1836, and ivory exports rose from one and a half tons in 1832 to more than eighty tons in 1859.

The transition to the ivory trade provoked serious political upheavals in the hinterland of Angola that reached as far as the Lunda Empire in the heart of central Africa. The Lunda king had sold slaves captured in the course of his many wars in exchange for guns that he used for his army and European goods that he distributed as political patronage to loyal officials. With the closing of the Brazilian slave ports in the 1850s, the price of a male slave along the coast of Angola fell from seventy dollars to ten dollars, putting the Lunda Empire's delicate patronage system in jeopardy. By 1875 political unrest was growing both at the Lunda capital and in the provinces.

The highly mobile bands of Chokwe hunters living in the hinterland of Angola were in a position to profit from the new economic conditions by selling wax and ivory to the Portuguese in exchange for firearms and other trade goods that they used to purchase slave women. In response to the growing political unrest and fierce succession struggles in the Lunda Empire in the 1870s, contenders for political power in the western Lunda provinces invited Chokwe war bands to settle on their lands and aid them in their struggle against the imperial capital. Fighting their way eastward, the Chokwe mercenaries broke faith with their employers and sacked the capital in 1886, thus destroying the Lunda Empire.

With the decline of the slave trade, African traders in the equatorial rainforest refocused their efforts on the ivory trade. The Bobangi canoemen, who had controlled the slave trade along the middle Congo River and the lower Ubangi, continued to carry slaves for the internal African market but depended on the ivory trade to purchase cloth, guns, and other imported products. The ivory was carried down the Congo River in canoes to Malebo Pool, where a two hundred mile series of rapids blocked further advancement. The ivory was then transferred to caravans of porters, who carried it to the coast for sale to Europeans. By the 1880s ivory was coming from as far inland as Wagenia Falls, more than a thousand miles from the mouth of the Congo River. Investing the wealth they gained from their ivory sales mainly in purchasing slaves, the Bobangi developed a society that reproduced itself mainly through slave purchases. Bobangi trading towns along the middle Congo became populated overwhelmingly by persons of slave origin and their descendants and fostered a system of social mobility whereby slaves could become wealthy traders or even chiefs.

east africa

East Africa was largely spared the ravages of the Atlantic slave trade, although there was a longstanding trade in slaves from the East African coast to the Middle East. In the nineteenth century the tiny island of Zanzibar, located just twenty-two miles off the East African coast, became the focal point for East African interactions with Europe. In the 1780s merchants from India began to visit Zanzibar in order to purchase ivory that had been brought there by boat from the mainland. The Indians believed that East African ivory was the best in the world. At the same time, French merchants began coming to Zanzibar in search of slaves for the sugar plantations being developed on the Indian Ocean islands of Reunion and Mauritius. This rise in commerce had little effect at first; in 1800 Zanzibar Town contained a few houses, but mostly huts of straw mat.

Things began to change when the sultan of Oman, which had claimed a loose hegemony over Zanzibar in the eighteenth century, made a voyage to the island in 1828. Four years later he transferred the capital of the Omani Empire from Muscat, in the Persian Gulf, to Zanzibar. One reason for the change was that the sultan had seen the two clove plantations established by an Omani merchant. Cloves, which had formerly been produced only in the Molucca Islands of southeast Asia, seemed to do especially well in Zanzibar. The sultan confiscated the clove plantations and took over land for new plantations. By the 1840s people all over the island were cutting down fruit trees in order to plant clove trees, and many Omani Arabs followed their sultan to Zanzibar in order to start clove plantations. The clove boom attracted the attention of Europeans. The United States established a consulate on Zanzibar in 1837, followed by the British in 1841 and the French in 1846.

The clove plantations were worked by slave laborers purchased from the East African mainland. By 1870 Zanzibar had between sixty thousand and one hundred thousand slaves working on the plantations, and it was importing ten thousand slaves per year to replenish the labor force. Zanzibar-based trading caravans financed by Indian merchants went farther and farther into the interior in search of slaves for the plantations or for shipment to the Middle East.

The trade routes had been pioneered in the early nineteenth century by the inland Nyamwezi, who brought ivory and slaves to the coast from their homeland in eastern Tanzania. Swahili and Arab traders from the coast began using the routes after 1825. The caravan trade greatly expanded with the development of clove plantations in Zanzibar and the surge in European demand for East African ivory. British imports of ivory rose from 125 tons per year in 1820 to 800 tons in 1875, causing prices in East Africa to rise 400 percent between 1823 and 1873.

With twenty-four thousand tusks exported annually from Zanzibar during the 1860s, the elephant herds in Tanzania were virtually extinct by 1872. Arab and Swahili traders began to cross Lake Tanganyika in the 1860s and search for ivory in the forested regions of eastern Congo. Hamed bin Muhammed, known as Tippu Tip, established permanent bases in the towns of Kassongo and Nyangwe along the upper Congo River. From there, his hired Nyamwezi soldiers would attack villages, seize stockpiles of ivory, and take captives, who could be ransomed with ivory or sold in Zanzibar. By the 1880s Tippu Tip's raiding state had congealed into a merchant-led confederation whose territory extended more than five hundred miles from north to south. Despite its state-like


structure, it served mainly to funnel slaves and ivory to Zanzibar.

southern africa

In 1795 the British seized the Dutch East India Company's colony at the Cape of Good Hope and took definitive control of the Cape Colony in 1806. As the British began to solidify their control over the Huguenot and Dutch settlers, known as Afrikaners or Boers, political changes were taking place in the interior that would have ramifications throughout southern Africa.

In 1818, a minor chief named Shaka conquered the Nguni chiefdoms between the Tugela and Pongola rivers and established a powerful, centralized Zulu kingdom with a standing army of forty thousand men organized in closely drilled and highly disciplined age regiments. During the next decade, Shaka expanded his kingdom into the Drakensberg foothills and sent soldiers to seize cattle and collect tribute south of the Tugela River, where they devastated hundreds of square miles, sending thousands of refugees fleeing to the inaccessible mountains and forests. Young men and women from newly conquered chiefdoms were incorporated into Zulu regiments.

In the Cape Colony, many Boer settlers were unhappy with the changes being introduced by the British colonial government, especially the 1828 ordinance that gave indigenous workers on Boer farms the right to move about and seek employment and the 1833 Emancipation Act, which promised to free slave workers by 1838. Between 1835 and 1841, about six thousand Boers left the Cape Colony, moving into areas that had recently been depopulated by the Zulu wars and extending white settlement far into the interior. They eventually created two Boer states, the Orange Free State and the South African Republic. In 1843 the British annexed the region of Natal to keep it from falling into rival European hands.

European interest in Southern Africa was heightened when diamonds were discovered in the Orange Free State in 1867 and gold was discovered in the South African Republic in 1886. The discovery of precious minerals brought a flood of new investors, entrepreneurs, and miners, and by 1877 the diamond town of Kimberley was the second largest city in southern Africa. In 1878 the British government annexed the diamond mining area from the Orange Free State and incorporated it into the Cape Colony. At that time there were about ten thousand white diggers and thirty thousand black workers in the diamond fields. Soon the freewheeling private enterprise that had characterized the early diamond digging was replaced by a more consolidated and coercive system. In 1886 De Beers Consolidated Mines introduced closed compounds for its African workers, and by 1899 De Beers had established a virtual monopoly on worldwide diamond sales.

The gold mining city of Johannesburg quickly became the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, attracting mining engineers and skilled miners from Europe and the United States. African migrant laborers from all over southern Africa were recruited to work in the mines, and by the turn of the century almost two-thirds of the labor came from Mozambique. African workers lived in compounds built by the mines for better control of the labor force. After 1896, all Africans in mining areas were required by law to have passes issued by their employers. Failure to produce a pass on demand could result in three weeks of hard labor for the first offense. By 1899 there were a million black workers and twelve thousand white workers working in the gold mines.

north africa

With the exception of Morocco, coastal North Africa was under the nominal control of the Ottoman Empire in 1789. Napoleon's army invaded Egypt in 1798 and defeated the forces of the archaic Mamluk oligarchy, but a British naval blockade of the Nile Delta ports persuaded the French to withdraw in 1801. In 1830 the French invaded Algeria and managed to overcome fierce resistance with an occupation army of more than one hundred thousand men. White settlers from France and Spain moved into the agriculturally productive coastal strip, taking over the olive plantations, vineyards, and wheat farms. By the end of the century there were nearly a million European settlers in Algeria.

In the aftermath of the French withdrawal from Egypt, the Ottoman sultan appointed Mehmet Ali, an Albanian officer in the Ottoman army, as the viceroy of Egypt. Mehmet Ali created a modern state with a salaried civil service and a professional army based on European models. In 1811 he organized the massacre of several hundred Mamluk nobles who had previously controlled the military recruiting and tax farming system. In 1820 his army invaded Sudan and established the city of Khartoum as an administrative center at the confluence of the Blue and the White Nile. Many European military and administrative advisers were brought to Egypt, and French and British merchants were allowed to operate freely after 1838.

European interest in Egypt increased as the British developed a route to India through the Mediterranean and the Red Sea that used Egypt as the transshipment point. In the 1850s the British built railroads connecting the Red Sea port of Suez to Cairo and the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. In the 1860s the French began work on the Suez Canal, which opened in 1869. Encouraged by high prices for Egyptian cotton during the American Civil War, the ruler of Egypt, Khedive Ismail, undertook further expansion and modernization of his army and extended the railway up the Nile toward Sudan. The end of the cotton boom and the disappointing financial results of the Suez Canal forced Khedive Ismail to declare bankruptcy in 1876, and three years later the British and French took over dual control of Egypt's finances. Following a coup by Egyptian army officers that threatened to recapture Egyptian financial control, the British army occupied Egypt in 1882 and began ruling the country through an appointed pasha.

Resentment of Egyptian rule in Sudan was crystallized by a Muslim reformer named Muhammed Ahmed, who called himself The Mahdi, the "guided one." His call for a jihad against the foreigners met with an enthusiastic response. In 1885 his forces took Khartoum, and they eventually gained control of two-thirds of modern Sudan. The Mahdist state


was finally destroyed in 1898 by a combined Anglo-Egyptian army. After that, Sudan was ruled by an Anglo-Egyptian condominium.

the scramble for africa

Until 1870 Europeans controlled only a few coastal enclaves in Africa aside from the British-controlled Cape Colony and Natal, and the colony of Sierra Leone, where they resettled African captives liberated from slave ships. The French had four enclaves in Senegal, the British had a small colony at Lagos, and the Portuguese controlled enclaves at Luanda and Benguela in Angola and at Mozambique Island and Quelmane in Mozambique. In the 1870s the British gained a trading monopoly over the Gold Coast by buying out the Dutch and Danish forts, and in 1874 they proclaimed the coastal Fante Confederation to be a crown colony in order to protect their trade.

Although the African trade amounted to less than 6 percent of Britain's overseas trade in the 1870s and even less for other European powers, there were persistent rumors of vast resources to be discovered in the interior of Africa. With the British involved in Egypt and South Africa, they were content to maintain informal spheres of influence in other parts of the continent. In response to a threat to their Gold Coast trade from the Asante Empire, the British army sacked the Asante capital in 1874 and then quickly withdrew in order to avoid the expense of formal occupation.

By the 1880s the colonization of Africa was becoming more feasible because of developments in technology. In the 1840s Europeans had discovered that quinine could be used to prevent malaria, a major killer of Europeans in Africa, and the British had developed advanced techniques of malaria prevention by 1874. Europeans were also developing new railroad and steamboat technology that incited dreams of creating vast transportation networks for the cheap transport of African products from the interior to the coast. European military technology was also advancing with the adoption of repeating rifles and a portable machine gun, the Maxim gun. Its impact was aptly summed up by the British ditty, "Whatever happens we have got / the Maxim gun and they have not."

The spark that may have set off the European "scramble for Africa" was the decision by the French in 1879 to build a railroad to transport peanuts between their coastal enclaves in Dakar and St. Louis in Senegal, even though the rail line ran through the African kingdom of Kayor. Over the next three years they moved inland, establishing new forts and surveying for a rail line to connect Dakar with the upper Niger River. The French exercise in formal empire in Senegal was quickly followed by other European actions on the continent. In 1882 the British occupied Egypt, and the French proclaimed protectorates over Porto Novo in Dahomey and over the north bank of the lower Congo. The Germans quickly followed by proclaiming protectorates over Togo, Cameroon, and South West Africa in 1884.

Intense international rivalries were causing England, France, Germany, and Portugal to lay claim to whatever territory they could before a rival power took it. At the Berlin West Africa conference in 1884–1885 the ground rules for the partition of Africa were laid out and the Congo River basin was declared a "free trade zone" under the authority of Belgian King Leopold II's International African Association. The actual boundaries of the colonies were worked out in a series of treaties between the colonizing powers between 1885 and 1891.

With the "paper partition" of Africa over, the European colonizers began a series of long and bloody campaigns to establish effective occupation of their colonies, as required by the Berlin Conference. The conquest of the territories was often aided as much by conflicts and rivalries among African states as by European military might. In southern Africa, conflicts between British mining interests and the Boer republics led to the Boer War of 1899–1902 in which the British conquered the Boer republics, leading to the creation of a unified South Africa in 1910. By 1902 virtually the whole of Africa was the colony of one European power or another.

The main political problem facing the colonizers was how to make the transition from military conquest to orderly administration. The French in West Africa dismantled the empires of the Tukolor and Samori, as well as kingdoms such as Dahomey and Fuuta Jalon, replacing them with a chain of command that ran from the Ministry of Colonies in Paris all the way down to the French commandant du cercle. Local African chiefs remained in power as subordinate auxiliaries of the commandant and could be replaced at his pleasure. The authoritarian administrative structure was accompanied by an assimilation policy by which Africans who met certain education and professional requirements could become French citizens, but the requirements were so rigorous that very few Africans achieved this status.

British administrative policies were far less uniform because individual colonial governors were allowed considerably more flexibility to adapt to local circumstances. The most important influence on early British policy was Sir Frederick Lugard, who ruled northern Nigeria after defeating the army of the Sokoto Caliphate in 1906. In order to administer a territory three times the size of Britain with a handful of British officials, he devised a system of indirect rule by which the area would continue to be ruled by the traditional emirs, who would operate within a framework of British law and tax policy. By the 1920s indirect rule was the reigning doctrine for administering Britain's African colonies.

Having invested considerable resources in the conquest and administration of their African colonies, European colonizers were eager to get a payoff. In the Congo, Leopold II quickly abandoned his promise to provide a free trade zone and parceled out the land to European concession companies who used private armies to force Africans to bring in wild rubber, which was in high demand for industrial uses. Those Africans who failed to meet their rubber quotas were imprisoned, whipped, or killed. A similar situation reigned in neighboring French Equatorial Africa, where 70 percent of the territory was


allocated to private concession companies. After reports of colonial atrocities in the Congo were confirmed by an official commission of enquiry in 1905, the Belgian government took the Congo away from King Leopold and made it a Belgian colony in 1908.

Other colonies sought to bring in European settlers who would grow cash crops on land seized from Africans using cheap African labor. The British used this strategy in the highlands of Kenya and in Southern Rhodesia, which had climates amenable to European settlement, and the Portuguese encouraged settler plantations in Angola and Mozambique. Africans were pressured to work for the white settlers in order to get money to pay their taxes or were simply required to work a certain number of days per year on a European farm or plantation.

The majority of the colonies lacked readily exploitable natural resources and European settlers. In such cases the colonial governments relied on tax levies to encourage cash crop production among the rural African populations and used conscripted African labor to build railroads to transport the crops to coastal ports. The British and French profited from the peanut production that was already widespread in Gambia and Senegal, as well as the palm oil production that was already in place in Nigeria and Dahomey. The British introduced cotton into Uganda in 1903, and production increased rapidly, although mandatory cotton production met with popular resistance in many other parts of Africa. In the Gold Coast and Nigeria, the British encouraged cocoa production, and by 1914 the Gold Coast had become the world's largest producer.

By the beginning of World War I, the earliest phase of colonial rule in Africa was coming to an end. After the war, the fledgling colonial administrations would become more systematic, and new tax and labor policies would be introduced. But the continent of Africa was already radically changed. The political and economic relations that predominated in 1914 bore little resemblance to those of 1789.

See alsoBoer War; Colonialism; Colonies; Imperialism; Jingoism; Leopold II; Slavery; Suez Canal.

bibliography

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Brunschwig, Henri. French Colonialism 1871–1914: Myths and Realities. Translated by William Granville Brown. New York, 1966.

Dike, Kenneth Onwuka. Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta, 1830–1885; an Introduction to the Economic and Political History of Nigeria. Oxford, U.K., 1956.

Gifford, Prosser, and William Roger Louis, eds. France and Britain in Africa: Imperial Rivalry and Colonial Rule. New Haven, Conn., 1971.

Hammond, Richard James. Portugal and Africa, 1815–1910: A Study in Uneconomic Imperialism. Stanford, Calif., 1966.

Harms, Robert W. River of Wealth, River of Sorrow: The Central Zaire Basin in the Era of the Slave and Ivory Trade. New Haven, Conn., 1981.

Hargreaves, John D. Prelude to the Partition of West Africa. London, 1963.

——. West Africa Partitioned. 2 vols. Madison, Wis.,1985.

Headrick, Daniel. The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century. New York, 1981.

Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Boston, 1998.

Lovejoy, Paul E. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. 2nd ed. Cambridge, U.K., 2000.

Packinham, Thomas. The Scramble for Africa, 1876–1912. New York, 1991.

——. The Boer War. New York, 1994.

Robinson, Ronald, and John Gallagher, with Alice Denny. Africa and the Victorians: The Official Mind of Imperialism. 2nd ed. London, 1981.

Sheriff, Abdul. Slaves, Spices, and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873. Athens, Ohio, 1987.

Thompson, Leonard. A History of South Africa. 3rd ed. New Haven, Conn., 2001.

UNESCO International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa. General History of Africa. Vols. 6–7. London, 1985–1989.

Robert Harms

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