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HIST251: History of Africa to 1890

Unit 7: Capitalism, The Industrial Revolution, and Africans (c. 1652 – 1890 CE)  

Despite the damage caused by the Atlantic slave trade, Africans had, by the late eighteenth century, constructed diverse, cosmopolitan, functioning societies across the continent that interacted with one another as well as with trading partners and co-religionists around the world. Historians often look to the 1890s and the formal colonization of Africa as the end of this diversity and independence. However, African independence was arguably first threatened during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During this period, industrial revolution created massive productivity imbalances between western Europe and other parts of the world. Africans were conscripted or recruited into global trade as producers of raw materials, rather than as manufacturers of finished goods. As a result, Africa generally lost wealth while western Europe gained it. This had a massive impact on the economic (and ultimately political) independence of African societies.

In this unit, we will explore the industrial revolution and its impact in Africa, and examine the ways that Africans participated in it. We will also look at two specific situations—the production of oilseeds (palm kernels and peanuts) in West Africa and the settlement of southern Africa—that serve as particularly advanced examples of this process. Finally, we will explore the situation in Africa on the eve of colonialism.

Unit 7 Time Advisory
Time Advisory: This unit should take you approximately 11 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 7.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 7.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 7.3: 6 hours

☐    Subunit 7.4: 2 hours

Unit7 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Explain the role of Africans in the industrial revolution.

  • Analyze the impact of the industrial revolution in western and southern Africa prior to 1890.
  • Assess the situation of African societies on the eve of colonialism.

7.1 Development and Underdevelopment   7.1.1 The Industrial Revolution   - Reading: BBC: Robin Blackburn’s “Enslavement and Industrialisation” Link: BBC: Robin Blackburn’s “Enslavement and Industrialisation” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Robin Blackburn’s article addresses the various ways in which the transatlantic slave trade helped fuel the rapid growth of the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe.  Please read the entire article.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.1.2 How Europe Underdeveloped Africa   - Reading: Revealing Histories: Washington Alcott’s “The Underdevelopment of Africa by Europe” Link: Revealing Histories: Washington Alcott’s “The Underdevelopment of Africa by Europe” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Washington Alcott’s article addresses the origins and causes of modern Africa’s so-called “underdevelopment.”  Please read the entire article.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.2 From Slaves to Oilseeds in West Africa   - Reading: Think Africa Press: Rizwana Monir’s “The Economics of African Slavery” Link: Think Africa Press: Rizwana Monir’s “The Economics of African Slavery” (HTML)
 
Instructions: In this article, Rizwana Monir argues that the West’s various economic policies continued to fuel the institution of slavery in Africa long after its abolition.  Please read it in its entirety.
 
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7.3 Settlers and Africans in Southern Africa   - Reading: South African History Online: “The Pre-Mandela Period: Colonial History of South Africa (1652–1917)” Link: South African History Online: “The Pre-Mandela Period: Colonial History of South Africa (1652-1917)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the following sections: “Introduction,” “The Trek Boers and the Great Trek,” “The Anglo-Boer War,” and “The Legislative Framework and Opposition to White Rule.”  This resource provides a brief colonial history of South Africa leading up to the twentieth century.
 
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7.3.1 Khoi-San Encounters with Europeans in Southern Africa   - Reading: South African History Online: “A Land Dispossession History 1600s–1990s” Link: South African History Online: “A Land Dispossession History 1600s–1990s” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This article outlines the history of contact between Europeans and South Africans and provides an excellent historical context in which to read the following assignment.
 
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7.3.2 European Expansion   - Web Media: South African History Online: “Great Trek 1835–1846” Link: South African History Online: “Great Trek 1835–1846” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the following sections: “Great Trek 1835-1846,” “Trek and the ‘empty lands’,” “Dispossession and land seizure.”  The Great Trek was an attempt by Dutch-speaking colonists—known as Boers—to migrate into the interior of South Africa.

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displayed on the webpage above.

7.3.3 The Conquest of the Xhosa   - Reading: South Africa History Online: “Conquest of the Eastern Cape 1779-1878” Link: South Africa History Online: “Conquest of the Eastern Cape 1779-1878” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This article covers the Frontier Wars (or Xhosa Wars), which took place in South Africa between various colonial administrations and native insurgents during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Please read the entire article.
 
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7.3.4 The Zulu-British Encounter   - Reading: KZN North Happenings: “History of the Zulu Nation” Link: KZN North Happenings: “History of the Zulu Nation” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This article provides a brief overview of the history of South Africa’s Zulu Nation.
 
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  • Reading: South African History Online: “Anglo-Zulu Wars 1879–1896” Link: South African History Online: “Anglo-Zulu Wars 1879–1896” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: This article covers the Anglo-Zulu Wars (1879–1896) and the destruction of the Zulu kingdom in South Africa.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

7.4 Africa at the Crossroads: The Mid-Nineteenth Century   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Africa at the Crossroads: The Mid-Nineteenth Century” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Africa at the Crossroads: The Mid-Nineteenth Century” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the linked entry.