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History of Archaeology in Ghana  

Wazi Apoh and Samuel Amartey

The conduct of archaeological research and scholarship in Ghana (formerly Gold Coast) dates back to the 1920s. However, before the 20th century, some antiquarian practices were pursued by European scientists, missionaries, merchants, and enslavers. Expatriate archaeologists dominated archaeological research in Ghana until the 1980s when the number of local scholars started increasing. The University of Ghana remains the only institution of higher learning in Ghana where academic and scientific archaeology is practiced through the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies (DAHS), which was established in 1951. Until the 1980s, prehistoric Stone Age archaeology dominated the thematic research landscape. However, from the 1980s onward, indigenous and expatriate archaeologists steered attention to sites dating to periods after 1000 ce. This was in response to the need to build new histories for the postcolonial nation-state of Ghana. By the close of the 20th century, local researchers had taken over the scholarly landscape of archaeology in the country. The Department of Archaeology was rebranded as the DAHS to make the discipline more meaningful and economically viable for national development. Since 2010, the department has dramatically diversified its thematic and temporal foci. Aside from Iron Age studies, prehistory, historical archaeology, state formation, and Atlantic–global encounters, themes such as public archaeology, developmental archaeology, restitution, bioarchaeology, archaeobotany, museology, slavery studies, and environmental humanities are emerging as practical ways of diversifying the field of archaeology in Ghana. These emerging and innovative themes are attractive and underscore the growing number of students pursuing archaeology at the University of Ghana.


History of Ghana  

David Owusu-Ansah

Taking its name from the medieval West African kingdom of Ghana when it gained political independence in 1957, the former British colony of the Gold Coast is known for its pan-African stance, gold and cocoa production, and national commitment to Western formal education. The Portuguese, the first European nation to arrive on the Costa da Mina (the Gold Coast) in 1471, reported of coastal communities organized under the leadership of chiefs. The position of the chief, with the support of local elders, illustrates the stratified political structures and chains of authority from the small village to the centralized states with whom the early Europeans and other foreign traders conducted commerce. Attracted by its gold deposits, merchants from several European nations followed the Portuguese to establish competing commercial ports on the 300-mile coastline. They invested in and defended the trading posts as forts and castles. Some of these establishments are now preserved as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in remembrance of the transatlantic slave trade. To the northern fringes of the Akan forest and through the Volta Basin, Mande Muslim traders from the old Western Sudanese empires, as well as Hausa merchants from the northeast, arrived as early as the 15th century to exchange Sahelian products for gold, slaves, and kola nuts. The history of Muslim engagement in the commerce from the north is linked to the spread of Islam in the territories. The European missionary activities on the southern coast introduced Western formal education and Christianity. The contemporary boundaries of Ghana can be traced to the history of precolonial state formation resulting from local wars of expansion and consolidation of territories by the powerful ethnic kingdoms, especially of the Akan nations. The long Asante resistance to the British presence and the ultimate European territorial delineations led to the consolidation of British rule of the Gold Coast in 1902 to commence the colonial era. Ghana’s independence from British rule was historic, as it represented the first Black sub-Saharan African nation to become independent. But, for the first thirty-five years after independence, the rule of law was intermittent, as the military overthrew civil administrations deemed corrupt or incompetent to address ongoing national economic challenges. The return to civilian constitutional rule, a free press, and successive changes of government through the ballot box since 1992, despite economic and development challenges, gave room to grow the nation’s democracy.


The History of Guinea  

Mohamed Saliou Camara

Like most of post-colonial African nation-states, Guinea is the product of Europe’s colonial partition of the continent at the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885. France followed up on the Berlin arrangements with military campaigns against West African rulers and treaties with other European colonial powers (Britain and Portugal) vying for territories in the region and the Republic of Liberia. However, the ancient communities whose descendants inhabit the Republic of Guinea were part and parcel of some of the greatest kingdoms and empires that marked West Africa’s history between the 6th and 19th centuries (Ghana, Mali, Songhay, Batè, Wassolon, and Futa-Jallon). Islam, which was introduced into the region through trans-Saharan trade, scholarship, and wars involving Muslim North Africa and Islamized elites of the Bilad as-Sudan, gained prominence and ultimately became the dominant religion in Guinea. The Atlantic Slave Trade spearheaded by the Portuguese, and the succeeding legitimate trade opened West Africa to colonial conquest and occupation in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Under French occupation, Guinea underwent major political, cultural, social, and economic mutations brought about by events and processes such as its integration into the French West Africa Federation and its multifaceted participation in the World Wars, as well as in France’s colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria. In the process, a nationalist anti-colonial consciousness evolved and crystallized, leading to the country’s advent to independence in 1958. As the sole French colony to reject Charles de Gaulle’s Franco-African Community, its modern history is in many ways unique. Since independence, Guinea has gone through a pro-Soviet single-party regime, military rule, and a shaky transition to the current civilian leadership, whose record of democratic governance has been checkered at best. Economic development has also been largely elusive, despite the abundance of arable land and mineral resources. This notable uniqueness notwithstanding, the history of Guinea does epitomize in some respects that of the African continent.


The History of Mali: Connectivity and State Formation since the 18th Century  

Madina Thiam and Gregory Mann

The Republic of Mali comprises a very diverse population spread over a vast territory composed of a large part of the southern Sahara, the Sahel, and the savannah. One of the world’s great rivers, the Niger, runs through much of the national territory, reaching its northern apex near Timbuktu. For over a millennium, this territory has allowed empires and kingdoms to flourish alongside decentralized societies. These include the empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhay, as well as any number of smaller states, trading diasporas, and nomadic and semi-nomadic communities. The territory of Mali has long been a hub in African commercial and intellectual circuits, notably those linking the societies of the Maghreb (or North Africa) to those bordering the Atlantic. In the 19th century, as elsewhere in Muslim Africa, new and explicitly Islamic states emerged in western and central Mali. They did not endure more than a few decades, as the territory was colonized by France in the late 19th century. The Republic of Mali claimed its independence in 1960 and rapidly developed greater autonomy from French neo-colonialism than did most of its neighbors. Mali has maintained an out-sized diplomatic and cultural role on the African continent and beyond under a socialist government from 1960 to 1968, military government through 1991, and a vibrant democracy in the decades since. However, since 2011, the country has been increasingly beset by violent conflicts between nonstate actors, the national government, and foreign forces including the French. Thus, in historical perspective, Mali’s geographic position and its environment have proven conducive to the production of expansive, diverse, and mutually dependent communities that have produced radically distinct and often fragile states.


History of Niger  

Abdourahmane Idrissa

Until the late 19th century, the central Sahel was a trade corridor between West and North Africa, which, especially since the fall of Gao at the end of the 16th century, had become a fairly violent and chaotic place. Around 1900, the French added to the violence when they undertook to conquer it and set up a colony there. From that point, two competing but intertwined histories began to evolve: the history of the colony and that of the nation. The French tried to make the colony work for French commerce, albeit under the self-defeating premises that the place had no economic value and its people were more burden than asset. A cash crop—groundnuts—eventually started to make exploitation colonialism profitable in the 1930s, but after World War II, a new Zeitgeist saw the rise of the ideas of economic development and political independence. By then, colonialism had unwittingly fostered a Nigerien society, which turned nationalistic in this context. National development became the general theme of Niger’s history until the late 1980s. Colonialism was criticized for failing to achieve it; dissension arose between Niger’s leading politicians of the 1950 over the methods—radical or moderate—with which it should be pursued; a coup in 1974 was made in its name. The theme of national development grounded regimes that claimed to act through a “development administration” (1960–1974) or a “development society” (1974–1991). This seemingly bland concept was thus the source of the dramatic contests and upheavals and the driving force of the Nigerien project, until it became history some decades ago.


History of Nigeria  

Matthew M. Heaton

The region of West Africa currently delineated by the boundaries of the independent country of Nigeria has a long, rich, and complex history exhibiting dramatic political, economic, social, and cultural change over time. Archaeological evidence of indigenous communities dates back to at least 8000 bce. Early states and societies took a variety of different forms and developed significant interaction among each other and through long-distance trade networks in the savannahs and coastal regions. The 19th century saw the encroachment of British colonialism, which ultimately produced the territory of Nigeria in 1914. Nigeria achieved independence in 1960, but the country has been beset by significant political instability and economic underdevelopment. As a result, the process of developing a national historical narrative has been complex and contested in a country whose borders were largely established by alien colonial rulers and that has since been beset by a variety of internal divisions with differing relationships to Nigeria as a corporate entity. This complexity is reflected in the dynamics of Nigerian historiography and the primary source bases upon which historical scholarship has relied.



Chima J. Korieh

The Igbo-speaking people inhabit most of southeastern Nigeria. Their political economy and culture have been shaped by their long history of habitation in the forest region. Important themes relating to the Igbo past have centered on the question of origin, the agrarian bases of their economy, the decentralized and acephalous structure of their political organization, an achievement-based social system rooted in their traditional humane living, and a fluid gender ideology that recognized male and female roles as complementary rather than oppositional. The Igbo contributed to major historical developments including the development of agriculture, the Bantu migration, and its influence in the making of Bantu cultural areas in sub-Saharan Africa. On the global arena, the Igbo contributed significantly to the transformation of the New World through the Atlantic slave trade and the making of New World cultures. The Igbo made the transition to palm oil production in the postabolition era, thereby contributing to the industrialization of Europe as well as linking their society to the global capitalist economy from the 19th century. The Igbo encounter with Europeans continued through British colonialism, and their struggle to maintain their autonomy would shape British colonialism in Nigeria and beyond. The postcolonial era has been a time of crisis for the Igbo in Nigeria. They were involved in a civil war with Nigeria, known as the Nigeria-Biafra war, and experienced mass killing and genocide but continued to be resilient, drawing from their history and shared experience.



Raphael Chijioke Njoku

The focus of this discussion is on the lingering questions about the origin, character, importance, and dating of the Igbo-Ukwu findings; what they reveal about the Igbo past; and the interpretations scholars ascribe to them. Named after its location at an Igbo village in southeastern Nigeria, Igbo-Ukwu is an important archeological complex with intricately cast bronze sculptures, chieftaincy paraphernalia, glass pendants, and a wide range of other artifacts and objects that are distinctive in their styles, mysterious in their origins and usages, and revealing in their meanings. For the Igbo, whose early history has been the subject of conjecture, the materials unearthed at the ancient settlement are confirmation of the antiquity of an advanced civilization and its participation in regional and long-distance trade, including the medieval era trans-Saharan trade. The eminent historian Adiele Eberechukwu Afigbo has affirmed that the Igbo of today, like other indigenous peoples without a well-developed writing culture, are “anxious to discover their origin and reconstruct how they came to be who they are” to better understand “the reality of their group identity which they want to anchor into authenticated history.” The Igbo-Ukwu archeological discoveries dated to the 9th century ce raised high expectations in the frantic search for the rich but elusive Igbo historical heritage. Chinua Achebe expressed the imperative of unraveling Igbo precolonial history with an adage: “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” The Igbo-Ukwu excavation did not provide conclusive answers to many of the riddles still confronting Igbo historians; it has, however, pointed to some hidden aspects of the African past. As details continue to emerge, some of the conclusions already made about the Igbo in particular and Africa in general will be subject to further revisions.


Islam and Politics in Postcolonial Mauritania  

Alexander Thurston

Mauritania is an almost universally Muslim society in northwest Africa, with a deep history of Islamic scholarship but also painful legacies of slavery and, more recently, shifting permutations of political authoritarianism. Three main forces have affected the intersection of Islam and politics in Mauritania since independence in 1960: the growing diversity of Islamic identities and affiliations available to Muslims, the role of Islamic discourses within tense negotiations over socio-racial identity in Mauritania, and the state’s efforts to manage Islam and shape the religious field. Some of the diverse Islamic affiliations, postures, and movements in postcolonial Mauritania include loyalism, Islamism, Salafism, the missionary movement Jamāʿat al-Tablīgh, jihadism, and quietism. In terms of socio-racial tensions, there has been growing self-assertion on the part of the ḥarāṭīn (singular ḥarṭānī), an Arabic-speaking population of slave descendants who are classified as “black” within Mauritanian society, in distinction to Arabic-speaking “whites”—bīḍān (singular bīḍānī). Meanwhile, there have been variable and at-times tense relationships between the state and Islamists, as well as key moments when authorities sought to elaborate or modify structures relating to “official Islam” in the country. Amid these changes, there has been an ongoing construction and reconstruction of Islamic scholarly culture in Mauritania. The country has also had consequential exchanges with the wider Islamic world, with influence from Saudi Arabia and other states affecting dynamics of Islamic identity in Mauritania, but with Mauritania also making profound contributions to the trajectory of Islamic authority in the Gulf region through the transnational careers and media prominence of key scholars.


Islamic Historical Sources: Manuscripts and Online  

Amidu Olalekan Sanni

Of central interest here are the historical sources on Islam and Africa, the role and contributions of manuscripts to the narrative, and how the new cyber world has become a domain for those sources as instruments for the generation and utilization of knowledge. Africa came in contact with Islam right from the birth of the faith in the 7th century. Although Judeo-Christian, Late-Antique, and pre-Islamic materials provided the earliest historical sources on Islam and its people, the Qur’an, hadith (statements of the Prophet Muhammad), and the sira/maghāzī (biography/expeditions) were the first original sources on Islamic history on which later writings, including those from Africa, drew. The manuscript tradition in Islam is as old as the faith itself; it was one of the earliest material sources on Islamic sciences, and in the case of Africa, it provided a treasure trove of materials. At the beginning of the 21st century, the approach to scholarship and utilization of manuscripts changed radically, as digitization, creation of online databases, interconnected portals and links to universal portals, catalogs of manuscripts and published materials, among other innovations, redefined the ways knowledge of Islamic history is generated, accessed, and utilized.


Lagos in the 19th Century  

Ayodeji Olukoju

The history of Lagos in the 19th century divides into two periods, separated by the British takeover in 1861. The major events of the first period were a protracted succession dispute among claimants to the Lagos throne between 1805 and 1851, the influx of refugees from wars in the immediate and distant hinterlands, and the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which was exploited by the British to intrude into the politics of Lagos. Lagos was transformed in the second period by a combination of local and external political, economic, and social dynamics. First, it became a British colony and the seat of a colonial administration, with the trappings of modernity, such as a legislative council, modern courts, and rudimentary social facilities. The colony subsequently acquired a protectorate in the Yoruba hinterland, especially after the defeat of the Ijebu in 1892. Second, the advent of European Christian missions, and the influx of descendants of slaves and recaptives from Brazil, Cuba, Sierra Leone, and Liberia on the wings of the Abolition had epochal social consequences. The establishment of primary and secondary educational institutions produced an African elite of medical doctors, lawyers, teachers, and journalists from the 1870s. Newspapers promoted the earliest forms of anti-colonial nationalism, including cultural nationalism. Third, forest produce displaced slaves as the leading Lagos export. By the 1880s, Lagos had developed into the premier port and commercial settlement along the West Coast of Africa, earning it the sobriquet of “The Liverpool of West Africa.” By the 1890s, road and railway transport had connected the port to a densely populated agricultural hinterland, including an expanding protectorate.


Lebanese in Anglophone West Africa  

Itamar Dubinsky

Lebanese began arriving in Anglophone West Africa in the second half of the 19th century. They left their homeland due to financial hardships, demographic pressures, famine, and internal frictions, and arrived in West Africa as a response to colonial needs and economic opportunities, and also as a result of unforeseen changes while en route to other destinations. In three representative areas—the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria—they quickly developed into an entrepreneurial class. Some colonial preferential treatment had helped them fill the gap between European companies and African farmers. Nevertheless, their colonial status as intermediaries perpetuated their position in the society as a distinct, alien population, bounded by close ties, thus reinforcing the perception of them as an aloof community. The laws developed by the colonial governments of British West Africa legalized the temporary status of the Lebanese by obstructing the attempts of many of this group to gain citizenship. African independent governments adopted and reinterpreted these laws, further framing the Lebanese as a culturally inassimilable population. From the 1960s until the 1990s, African elites, who feared the Lebanese would translate their wealth into political capital, and rival traders, who could hardly compete with the Lebanese people’s resources and access to credit, provided further impetus for the amendment of state constitutions in order to hamper Lebanese naturalization. Changes witnessed since the late 20th century improved Lebanese access to citizenship rights; in politics, though, they remain largely influential in indirect ways. Alongside such commonalities, the Lebanese communities in the Gold Coast (later Ghana), Sierra Leone, and Nigeria developed according to the local circumstances in which they settled, the hardships they endured, and the opportunities they carved out of adversities. In each of the three countries, the Lebanese demonstrated their entrepreneurial flexibility to meet changing social, political, and economic conditions, despite the continued persecution many continue to face.


Liberated Africans  

Richard Anderson

“Liberated Africans” refers to a group of African-born men, women, and children intercepted by naval forces from slave ships and slave trading factories in the Atlantic and Indian oceans as part of the 19th-century campaign to abolish the transoceanic slave trade from Africa. Following the passage of Britain’s 1807 Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the British Royal Navy patrolled both the Atlantic and Indian oceans in order to suppress the external trade from Africa. Captured vessels were taken to a series of Vice-Admiralty courts, and later Mixed Commission courts, located in Freetown, Sierra Leone; Havana, Cuba; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tortola; Cape Town, South Africa; James Town, St. Helena; Luanda, Angola; and Port Luis, Mauritius. Naval interdiction by Brazil, Portugal, the United States, and other powers resulted in a smaller number of cases brought before unilateral anti-slave-trade tribunals. Between 1808 and 1896, this complex tribunal network “liberated” approximately 214,000 Africans who survived the Middle Passage. Perhaps 75,000 of these individuals were settled in Sierra Leone; the remainder were settled in the British Caribbean, Brazil, Cuba, Liberia, and British colonies and outposts from the Gambia, Cape Colony, and Mauritius, to Mombasa, Zanzibar, and Bombay. The arrival of an estimated 192,000 Liberated Africans into Atlantic ports continued through the demise of the transatlantic slave trade in the 1860s. In the Indian Ocean, approximately 22,000 Liberated Africans disembarked in East Africa, the Persian Gulf, and India as a result of a highly uneven British naval campaign from 1808 into the 1890s. Many Liberated Africans experienced very liminal freedom. Adults and children were apprenticed to colonial inhabitants for periods of up to fourteen years. Men were conscripted into the British West India Regiments and Royal African Corps. Many women were forcibly married to strangers soon after arrival. Approximately one out of every four Liberated Africans underwent a second oceanic passage, most of them forcibly relocated to the British West Indies. The settlement of Liberated Africans—referred to by British officials as their “disposal”—represented a sizable involuntary African migration into and across the British Empire in the decades after the abolition of the British slave trade. Their arrival brought with it a lasting linguistic and cultural impact in many colonial societies. The descendants of Liberated Africans remain identifiable communities in many postcolonial societies from Africa to the Caribbean.


Luanda: An Atlantic Port City  

Vanessa Oliveira

The connections of west-central Africa with the Atlantic world were first established in the 15th century, when a Portuguese expedition arrived in the kingdom of Kongo. By 1520, Portuguese traders reached the Mbundu state of Ndongo to the south, and in 1575 Paulo Dias de Novais established the coastal settlement of Luanda, marking the beginning of a lucrative trade in enslaved Africans that connected Luanda to the wider Atlantic world. The trade in captives became the main economic activity of the Portuguese based in Angola, and Luanda became the single most important Atlantic slaving port. In Luanda and its hinterland, interactions between foreign and local peoples gave origin to a Luso-African society, which adopted elements of European and Mbundu cultures. Previous exposure to this Atlantic creole culture was crucial for the integration of enslaved Africans to societies in Latin America. Besides supplying captives to the transatlantic slave trade, Luanda was also a slave society. Elite men and women had numerous captives in their households and in agricultural properties located in rural suburbs and in the interior. With the abolition of the slave trade in the Portuguese territories in Africa in 1836, Luanda experienced the development of the so called legitimate commerce in tropical commodities, shifting its Atlantic connections from Brazil to Europe and the United States. Meanwhile, the city was reconnected to São Tomé through a traffic of forced laborers to work on cocoa and coffee plantations.


May 1968 in Africa: Revolt in Dakar  

Omar Gueye

As in a number of other continents, Africa experienced a wave of student and union protests in May 1968. One of its epicenters was in Senegal, based at the University of Dakar, also known as the “eighteenth French university,” where students from France and almost all Francophone Africa were directed. The events of May 1968 in Senegal were primarily caused by local factors, although similarities with the global youth protest movement can also be found. Initially ignited by a student revolt over the conditions of scholarships, the movement spread to high school students and workers’ unions, gaining the support of the working classes, while the party-state relied on the army’s loyalty as well as the support of marabouts, the Muslim leaders. This in turn expanded the crisis, first from Dakar to other parts of the country, then from Senegal to the native countries of the students who had been arrested and expelled after the university campus had been stormed by the police. At the crossroads between an escalating student strike, a student movement infiltrated by political opposition or foreign influence, a rebellion against neocolonialism, as well as a sense of weariness due to difficult social and economic circumstances, May 1968 in Senegal resembled a protest against the personal power of President Senghor as well as a demonstration led by young people who, like their counterparts abroad, wanted to change the world. The national crisis, in a context of international turmoil and in interaction with global issues, ended on September 26, when the four-month high school strikes satisfactorily ended.


Migrations and Mobilities in Sahelian West Africa  

David Rickter Rain

Human population movements have throughout history balanced social obligations with vocational or entrepreneurial activities, with all practices heavily influenced by patterns of human and physical geography. West Africa’s particular shape and location on the Earth’s surface create special conditions for human mobility. West Africafeatures a complex system of human population movements ranging from temporary labor migration to herder mobility, apprenticeships, and other mostly urban-based work opportunities. Demographers, historians, geographers, and others have studied these movements and have worked to correlate them with underlying patterns of precipitation, food sufficiency, economic opportunity, and household dynamics. Understanding the complexities of human population movements in the region provides a window into not only diverse cultures but also the ways these communities have remained resilient in the face of periodic food-security crises. Often the ways outsiders view population movements in West Africa is biased toward the Western-style permanent move, where a job seeker cuts ties with her former home and sets up housekeeping someplace entirely new—a pattern only rarely encountered on the continent of Africa. The region known as the Sahel features a temperature and precipitation regime characterized by an extremely seasonal and unimodal distribution of rainfall that creates starkly delimited wet and dry seasons. Climate is a well-known feature of the Sahelian West African region, with influence on all aspects of life. In the Sahel, there is only one rainfed cropping season, leaving a “dead season” of six months or more when rainfed cropping is impracticable. Rainfed agricultural production is prey to the vicissitudes of the weather, and on-farm investments often reflect drought risk. Precipitation corresponds to the movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), an area of contact between air masses north and south of the equator that follows the high-sun season throughout the year. The northernmost extent of the ITCZ brings needed precipitation to the Sahelian zone but is unreliable. Agricultural conditions are satisfactory in approximately four out of every five years, but there is a propensity toward drought (or in the other extreme case, flooding) on a regular though indeterminate basis. In response to this climate and environmental context, humans in the West African region have adapted in multiple ways to use rainfed agriculture when practicable and spread assets among livestock, cropping, and social network investments that often span considerable distances. In order to understand the complex interplay of place characteristics and human practices, typologies of movements are helpful. In anthropological fieldwork on mobility among the Hausa people of southern Niger and northern Nigeria, Harold Olofson identified twenty-five emic (or locally defined) categories of spatial movement, all but one of which were circular in nature. In a cosmological view of mobility, destinations are frequently indeterminate, and little qualitative distinction exists between yawon ganin gari (walk of seeing the town) and yawon ganin duniya (walk of seeing the world). In other words, there is not much difference between stepping a few yards from one’s door and traveling hundreds of miles away. Perhaps the differences between short- and long-term mobility are governed by cultural norms and economic logic, but particular decisions to move are difficult to quantify due to the flexibility of the practice. Of all the intriguingly interlocking explanations for West Africa’s complex patterns of human migration—environmental, sociopolitical, economic—perhaps the most compelling ones see a kind of pocketbook rationality in their sometimes erratic-appearing moves, from one rural farming setting to another, or living half the year in a nearby city, or traveling from market town to market town in a serpentine pattern reflecting the varied landscapes of the region, so heavily flavored by precipitation. Destinations for movements can be markets, through-points, or friends in a social grouping who could be a key link in a time of emergency, when any contact however indirect could come in handy during a drought. Westerners who view migration as a permanent move with cut ties to the home region, or who are blinded by their survey instruments, will miss the complexities of entire cultural systems organized across sometimes-great distances, with some of the movements over a millennium old. Some balanced place and network investments in transcontinental trade routes to the Maghreb or to the Guinea (gold, ivory, or slave) Coast. In the city of Maradi, a city of approximately three hundred thousand in southern Niger along the border with Nigeria, mobilities practiced by itinerant sellers became more attuned to market opportunities during the colonial period. Having a detailed understanding of all mobilities practiced by women, men, or children helps shed light on the social cohesion and resilience, expressed geographically through asset-spreading, complex social networks based on gifts and reciprocal sharing (such as would take place at a wedding or naming ceremony), and reliance on information—particularly meteorological and market information—to allow people to make informed household decisions.


Music in Cabo Verde  

Glaúcia Nogueira

The landscape of Cape Verdean music is diverse, and its musical genres, like the society from which they emanate, are mostly Creole. They stem from the interactions of the local population with other peoples, not only through colonization, but also from the emigration of Cape Verdeans to other countries. In addition, maritime traffic in the Atlantic, which has always traversed the archipelago, was a fruitful channel of contact with other cultures. These factors meant that Cabo Verde remained attuned to cultural trends and lifestyles circulating around the world. Morna, koladera, batuku, and funaná are the most prominent genres on any list of musical styles considered “genuinely” Cape Verdean, if it makes sense to use this adjective in a society marked so heavily by ethnic admixture. That list must also include: 19th-century European musical styles (mazurka, waltz, schottische, polka, gallop) that local musicians appropriated by playing them; the talaia baxu, from the island of Fogo; and a group of musical expressions related to the feasts of the Catholic calendar, with songs, dances, and drumming, such as the kola sanjon (commemorating St. John the Baptist), present on several islands; the activities of tabankas (mutual aid associations that, among other activities, celebrate the dates of Catholic saints) in Santiago and the flag festivals on the island of Fogo. Other religious traditions include the litanies inherited from the Portuguese tradition sung in Creole. There are also popular songs related to work and other activities like sowing, fishing, and labor with oxen in the artisanal production of rum (grogo, grogue, grogu). The oxen work songs (kola boi) are nearly extinct. Weddings songs are also part of traditional musical practices that are either nearly extinct or performed as folklore representations only. In terms of popular music with international circulation since the 1970s, Cape Verdean youth have enthusiastically embraced rap, reggae, zouk from the Antilles, and to a lesser extent rock, by producing Cape Verdean versions of these genres.


Muslim Brotherhoods in West African History  

Mauro Nobili

Muslim Sufi brotherhoods (ṭuruq, sing. ṭarīqa) are ubiquitous in contemporary Islamic West Africa. However, they are relative latecomers in the history of the region, making their appearance in the mid-18th century. Yet, Sufism has a longer presence in West Africa that predates the consolidation of ṭuruq. Early evidence of Sufi practices dates to the period between the 11th and the 17th centuries. By that time traces of the Shādhiliyya and the lesser-known Maḥmūdiyya are available between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Chad, but it was the activities of the Kunta of the Qādiriyya and of al-ḥājj ‘Umar of the Tijāniyya that led to the massive spread of Sufi brotherhoods in the region. The authority of leaders of ṭuruq did not disappear with the imposition of European colonialism. In fact, the power of those leaders who adjusted to the novel political situation further consolidated thanks to their role as mediators between their constituencies and the colonial government. Eventually, the end of the colonial period did not signal the decline of ṭuruq in West Africa. Conversely, during the postcolonial years, Sufi brotherhoods continued flourishing despite the secular nature of West African independent states and the increasing tension with a plethora of equally rising Salafi movements.


Nationalism and Decolonization in Cameroon  

Joseph Takougang

The union between the former French Cameroun and the British Southern Cameroons on October 1, 1961, to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon was a unique experiment in nation building and the struggle for independence in Africa. For instance, the Union des Populations du Cameroun (UPC), the first truly nationalist party in the former French trusteeship that advocated immediate independence and reunification with the British Cameroons, was banned in May 1955 by French colonial authorities because of its radical views, since France was still reluctant to grant its African colonies complete independence. For France, the choice of who and which party could lead the territory to independence depended on who French authorities thought could guarantee continued relations with France following independence. In the end, Ahmadou Ahidjo and his Union Camerounaise (UC) emerged as the best candidate to meet France’s objectives in a postcolonial Cameroun. On the other hand, because of the colonial arrangement that allowed Britain to administer its section of the former German colony as part of its colony of Nigeria to the west, the nationalist struggle took a different trajectory and was more against Nigerian rather than British colonial domination. In other words, for many Southern Cameroonians, the focus by the two major parties (Kamerun National Democratic Party (KNDP) and Cameroons Peoples’ National Convention (CPNC)) during the campaign leading to the plebiscite on February 11, 1961, was whether the territory should be part of the Republic of Cameroun, which was engulfed in violence and bloodshed following its independence on January 1, 1960, or face the threat of Igbo domination if Southern Cameroonians decided to become part of an independent Nigeria.


Nationalism and Decolonization in the Ivory Coast  

Alfred Babo

The postcolonial history of Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) is marked by a continuum of policy-making inherited from the colonial administration and which contributed to the state’s stability and relative economic success in the 1970s in West Africa. However, government policy fluctuated in accordance with economic crises, demands for democracy, and ethnic division. Although laws aimed at normative governance, ethnic-based policy-making has been expanded to post-independence because political power in Ivorian society is still determined by ethnic loyalty. Economic distress intertwined with political ethnicity has persistently led to turmoil, from coups d’état to rebellion and civil war—in sharp contrast with the country’s earlier apparent stability, for thirty years after Independence.