In order to understand the present, we must first come to know the past.  Contemporary conditions and experiences are the result of a unique recipe of social and historical circumstances, and this is particularly the case for Africa. Too often, news reports and other depictions of Africa only provide a very superficial explanation of events and issues taking place in Africa and they fail to provide the socio-historical contexts in which those issues occur. It is not unusual to learn about ethnic conflicts, child soldiers, or widespread famine in certain areas of Africa, but these accounts seldom address the history of colonialism that created ethnic conflict, the U.S. sponsorship of coups that use child soldiers, or the world agricultural policies that set the stage for widespread famine. Unfortunately, these negative depictions have come to characterize a continent that is primarily comprised of a rich diversity of peoples and cultures living in peace and productivity. Most people are unaware of the significant contributions that originated in Africa such as the origin of human kind, the invention of agriculture, and the production of products that have changed the world, such as coffee. This module will provide a general overview of African histories, from human development and the rise of mighty African Kingdoms, to the Trade Triangle, Colonialism and the Global Economy. By the end of this module, you should have a deeper understanding of the ways that history has shaped contemporary circumstances in Africa. More importantly, you should develop a deeper appreciation for the ways that Africa and African people have contributed to peoples and cultures throughout the world.


After completing the reading, move on to Prehistory & Empires.