Africa Bibliography

all periods

copyright 1998 by Historical Novelists Center

Gross geography often has nothing to do with cultural lines. That is, the fact that Africa can be easily delimited as a continent by the Suez canal does not mean that it does not consist of several cultural or even racial zones at different epochs. Especially, up until about 600 CE Northern Africa was racially as well as culturally distinct from Sub-Saharan (black) Africa. While there was a Nubian conquest of Egypt, it was fairly short lived, temporarily replaced but did not breed out the uppermost classes, and the Egyptians remained a Semitic rather than Negroid people. Remarks about "Cleopatra being black" are simply silly, since she wasn't even Egyptian, but Macedonian Greek of an inbred royal line, with a narrow, prominently bridged nose. The Tuaregs still show the strongly Europid background of the Libyans and Numidians, who absorbed the Vandals as well.

This is primarily a bibliography for Sub-Saharan Africa, which had often more contact with Arabia or India than with its own northern shore. While it will include the Tuareg and the Meroitic Empire, you will have to go to other bibliographies for the earlier peoples of North Africa.

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Ayittey, George B. N

Indigenous African Institutions
Ardsley-on-Hudson, N.Y. : Transnational Publishers, c1991; 547 p. : maps; bibliographical references and index
Covers the history of various forms of politics and government, customary law of the chiefdoms, and social life and customs.

Baker, Samuel White

Go To Project GutenbergIn the Heart of Africa ****
Condensed By E.J.W From "The Nile Tributaries Of Abyssinia" and "The Albert N'yanza Great Basin Of The Nile."
Commences in 1861, travelling with a wife who refused to be left out but whose name he never mentions, and follows the course of the Nile upstream from Nubia (in modern Sudan, into Ethiopia, etc.). T2
Nile Tributaries of Africa ****
If you want the whole of the details, also at PG. T3

Duff Gordon, Lucie, Lady

Go To Project GutenbergLetters from the Cape ***
Lucie was sent down to the British colony at the Cape of Good Hope to recover her health. She says volumes about the colonists and herself when she comments on the people there, seen through the lens of our times. T2

Hale, Thomas A., ed.

The Epic of Askia Mohammed ; recorded, translated, edited, and annotated by Thomas A. Hale ; recounted by Nouhou Malio with the assistance of Mounkaila Maiga ... [et al.].
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, c1996; 88 p. : ill. ; Translation from Songhay; bibliographical references and index.
This is a genuine epic poem from west Africa, about Mohammed I, aka Askia of Songhai, who lived1443?-1538.

Burman, Jose

Towards The Far Horizon : The Story Of The Ox-wagon In South Africa
Cape Town : Human & Rousseau, 1988;168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.); bibliographical references.
Oxdriving and Wagons in South Africa. If you're going to have trekking Boers, you need to have these strongly visualized, and know where your protagonist will and won't run into them. T2

Crummey, Donald

Banditry, Rebellion, And Social Protest In Africa: Selection of rev. papers presented in a symposium on Rebellion and Social Protest in Africa, held at the Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in April 1982
London : J. Currey ; Portsmouth, N.H. : Heinemann, 1986; 404 p. : Maps; bibliographies and index.

Emery, Frank

Marching Over Africa : Letters From Victorian Soldiers
London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1986; 204 p. : ill.; Bibliography; index.

Fagan, Brian M.

"Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe: Rich in Cattle and Gold" ***
Mysteries of Mankind: Earth's Unexplained Landmarks
National Geographic Society, 1992
Twenty pages of text, photos, and a reconstructive painting. T1

Four Winds Press, editors

Great Civilizations of Ancient Africa
New York, Four Winds Press, 1971; 340 p., illus., maps; Bibliography.

Gailey, Harry A., Jr.

The History of Africa in Maps ***
Denoyer-Geppert Co., Chicago, 1967
Clear simple text with clear line maps tells more, more quickly, than many a text book. Locates the kingdoms and tribes at different periods. T1

Gollancz, editors

Old Africa Rediscovered
London, Gollancz, 1959; 287 p., illus.

Green, Rebecca L.

The Empire of Ghana
New York : F. Watts, 1998; bibliographical references and index.
A survey of the history and culture of the West African Empire of Ghana that, flourishing from about 750 until 1076, is not related to modern Ghana. Juvenile literature but a good intro.


Blacks Before America ****
Trenton, N.J. : Africa World Press, c1994; 156 p.: ill.; bibliographical references.
This will give you a general grounding up until 1500. T1

Ingraham, Holly

People's Names: A Cross-cultural Reference Guide to the Proper Use of Over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names in Over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997; 613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
Has a big chapter on assorted tribes of Africa, plus specific chapters on Swahili, Tuareg, Amharic & Tigrina (Ethiopia), Sesotho, Yoruba, and Nigerian. For Classical Mediterranean Africa, has Punic (for Carthage), Latin, Hellenic, and ancient Egyptian. T1

Keenan, Jeremy

The Tuareg, People of Ahaggar ***
St. Martin's Press, NY, 1977
Excellent on their life in village and caravan, and their quiet resistance to "modernization" that they don't want. T2

Knight, Ian

Zulu: Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift, 22-23 January 1879 ****
W&G, 136 pgs; illustrated by Michael Chappell and Angus McBride
You cannot get more detail than this. While the story has been done in novels and movies, that's from the British side. T3

Hunwick, John O., editor, translator, and commentator

Ajwibat al-Maghili 'an as'ilat al-Amin al-Hajj Muhammad Askiya. English: Shari'a in Songhay : The Replies Of Al-maghili to the Questions of Askiaal-Hajj Muhammad ****
London ; New York : Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, c1985; 165 p. : ill., facsims., maps; English and Arabi; bibliography and index.
Covers Islamic law in Songhai about 1500. T3

Law, Robin

The Horse in West African History: the Role of the Horse in the Societies of Pre-Colonial West Africa ****
London, Oxford University Press for the International African Institute, 1980
Unusal coverage of the role of cavalry in West African warfare and civilian life. Clearly digs out who had enough horses to use them for more than ceremonial purposes. The first chapter on when horses were introduced is the weakest, because he believes the lack of foreign roots for the word "horse" in a number of languages indicates that their use must therefore be ancient in those areas. It actually cannot be forced to mean anything except that people weren't inclined to borrow the foreign word. Ignores (probably unaware of) the very relevant studies of Tassili petroglyphic chariot technology and the horsemanship associated by Latin authors with the Libyan horse. T2

Livingston, David, MD

Go To Project GutenbergMissionary Travels and Researches in South Africa ****
By the famous medical missionary, tells of his adventures that led to his being the first European to cross Africa East to West. "David Livingstone does not write about Africa as a missionary, nor as an explorer, nor yet as a scientist, but as a man meeting fellow men." (Alan R. Light) T2
Go To Project Gutenberg
A Popular Accout of Dr. Livingstone's Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries and the Discovery of Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa 1858-1864 ****
Another from the most bearable of the Victorian explorers. T2

Mann, Kenny

Ghana, Mali, Songhay : the Western Sudan
Parsippany, N.J. : Dillon Press, c1996;108 p. : ill. (some col.), col. maps; bibliographical references and index.
Before you get into this, you might want to read McKissak, below. T2

McKissack, Patricia and Fredrick

The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay : Life In Medieval Africa
New York : H. Holt, 1994; 142 p. : ill., maps; bibliographical references and index.
It's a juvvy, but it's a good one before you get into Mann. Examines the civilizations of the Western Sudan which flourished from 700 to 1700 A.D., acquiring such vast wealth that they became centers of trade and culture for a continent. T1

Meillassoux, Claude

Anthropologie de l'esclavage. English: The Anthropology Of Slavery : The Womb Of Iron And Gold
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1991; 421 p.; translated by Alide Dasnois; bibliographical references and indexes
Deals in both the economic and social repercussions of slavery as practiced in Africa. T2

Morris, Donald R.

The Washing of the Spears *****!
Konecky; 655 pg
Surperb study of the rise and destruction of the Zulus, from Shaka through Cetshwayo. T2

Morrow, the editors

Africa Before They Came
New York, Morrow, 1965
A general coverage of civilization and religion. T1

Murray, Jocelyn, editor

Cultural Atlas of Africa *****!
Oxford : Phaidon, 1981; 240 p. : ill. ; Bibliography: index..
New York, N.Y. : Facts on File, c1981; 240 p. : ill. (some col.); Bibliography: index.
Gives you geographical and cultural maps for the whole continent, with a good intro to culture and politics. T1

Negro Universities Press

The Passing Of The Black Kings
New York, Negro Universities Press 1969; 322 p. illus., maps; Reprint of the 1932 ed.; bibliographical references.
South Africa before1909.

Neurath, Marie

They Lived Like This in Ancient Africa
New York, F. Watts, 1967; 32 p. illus. (part col.), map. Artist: Evelyn Worboys.
A juvenile introduction to the early civilization of Africa, as learned from the art and artifacts of its peoples.

Osprey Military Books

The Men-At-Arms Series:

Elite Series:

Pakenham, Thomas

The Scramble For Africa, 1876-1912
New York : Random House, c1991; bibliographical references and index
Excellent history of the colonial politicking.

Parrinder, Geoffrey

African Mythology ***
Barnes & Noble, NY
Selections from many tribes. May help you decide which one you want to concentrate on, or give you the breadth for inventing your own. T2

Ramsay, Cynthia Russ

"Lands Along the Niger" ***
Beyond the Horizon: Adventures in Exotic Lands

National Geographic Society, 1992
Covers meeting the Dogon, Fulani, Tuareg, and Bozo in forty pages of text and photos. Barely introductory. T1

Roberts, Brian

The Zulu Kings ****
Barnes & Noble, 416 pgs
A history of the short dynasty which conquered so much of South Africa, until finally beaten back by the technologically superior British in 1879. T2

Robertson, Claire C. & Martin A. Klein, editors

Women and Slavery In Africa ***
Madison, Wis. : University of Wisconsin Press, 1983; bibliographical references and index
Specifically views the effect of the slave trade on women. Pretty technical. T3

Robinson, Calvin R., Redman Battle, and Edward W. Robinson

The Journey of the Songhai People
Philadelphia, Pa. : Pan African Federation Organization, c1987; 227 p. : ill., maps ; bibliographical references

St. Martin's Press

Ancient African Kingdoms
New York, St Martin's Press, 1965

Salmonson, Jessica Amanda

The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era *****!
Paragon House, NY, 1991; 290 pg, no index, bibliography
Includes women warriors from all over the continent, back into the mists of myth: Egyptian, the kandakes of Meroe, ruling queens of the Congo, amazon corps of African kings. T2

Speke, John Hanning

Go To Project GutenbergThe Discovery of the Source of the Nile ***
Disputed by Burton and M'Queen, it is valuable to us as a type of the Victorian African explorer. T3

Spruytte, J.

Early Harness Systems *****!
J. A. Allen, London, 1977; translated by Mary Littauer
Spruytte has built and driven chariots based on his long study of the Tassili petroglyphs, and found that if you build 'em like they drew 'em, they work just fine, even though they are not a bit like Greek or Egyptian chariots, and use a completely different tractive mode. Perfectly understandable to the layman. T2

Stoller, Paul and Cheryl Olkes

In Sorcery's Shadow : A Memoir Of Apprenticeship Among the Songhay of Niger *****!
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1987
This is your real "witchdoctor" stuff without the Christian bias that they are all either evil or stupid. Excellent field report from and anthropologist. T2-3

White, Stewart Edward

Go To Project GutenbergThe Land of Footprints ***
Terribly prejudiced Victorian explorer book, but for that reason shows clearly the mentality common then. T3

Wildung, Dietrich, ed.

Sudan: Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile ****
Highly pictorial collection of the artifacts of the cultures of the Upper Nile, and the influences on this borderland between black Africa and the Europid Mediterranean. T1

Yamamura, Akihiro

Senegal: A Country and its People ***
Takarajima, Tokyo
An excellent picture book with a traveller's text, exploring the country. T1

Zawawi, Sharif M.

What's in a Name? Unaitwaje? A Swahili Book of Names *****!
Africa World Press, Trenton, NJ, 1993
You can't use Swahili for all tribes, but this is a very authoritative book with massive pick-lists. Do note which ones she says are modern or carried back by overseas workers. T1


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Ancient World Web *****!

Superb linksite, which it would be silly to try and duplicate here. Especially fine for including Asian, American, and African sections, not just Europe and the Near East.


The Congo Cook Book ****

A slew of authentic recipes by a returned Peace Corps volunteer. Delicious, too!


Women in Nubia ***

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