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POLSC325: African Politics

Unit 1: Pre-Colonial and Colonial Africa: An Overview   *While some historians have characterized pre-colonial Africa as stateless, pre-colonial Africa did not lack political organization.  African societies developed diverse political systems based on local needs and realities.  Centralized kingdoms emerged in some regions, while other regions formed more decentralized governments based on kinship.  However, colonialism interrupted Africa’s natural political development by replacing or significantly altering institutions and power configurations.

Lasting roughly from the 1880s to the early 1960s, colonialism not only introduced new borders and systems of governance but also changed many aspects of African culture and society by introducing new languages, religions, and social hierarchies.  These influences are still evident today, although scholars debate the extent to which colonialism explains contemporary phenomena like civil war and economic underdevelopment.
This unit will present an overview of pre-colonial and colonial Africa, highlighting the ways in which colonialism has shaped African politics—and nearly every aspect of modern-day Africa—over the last six decades.  This unit will also introduce you to some historical concepts like Pan-Africanism and neocolonialism that later units will examine in more detail.  Finally, this unit will encourage you to familiarize yourself with Africa’s political map.*

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 17 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 2.75 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 6.75 hours
☐    Sub-subunit 1.3.1: 0.5 hour

☐    Sub-subunit 1.3.2: 1.75 hours 

☐    Sub-subunit 1.3.3: 1 hour 

☐    Sub-subunit 1.3.4: 3.5 hours 

☐    Subunit 1.4: 2.5 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Recognize that pre-colonial Africa was not devoid of political structures. - Describe a rudimentary understanding of pre-colonial governance structures. - Identify and explain the primary characteristics of colonialism with respect to governance and economics. - Describe the ways in which colonialism influenced African political and economic developments. - Explain the role of African independence movements in bringing about decolonization. - Demonstrate familiarity with Africa’s colonial and contemporary maps.

1.1 Pre-Colonial Africa   - Reading: The University of Iowa, Department of History: Professor James Giblin’s “Introduction: Diffusion and Other Problems in the History of African States” Link: The University of Iowa, Department of History: Professor James Giblin’s “Introduction: Diffusion and Other Problems in the History of African States” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire webpage.  This reading will give you an overview of four kingdoms in pre-colonial Africa: Asante, Benin, Luba, and Kuba.  It also explores the political organization of the Yoruba people in West Africa.  The reading will present the political, social, and religious structure of societies in the pre-19th century colonization era.
 
This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
  
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: BBC World Service’s The Story of Africa: “West African Kingdoms,” “The Swahili,” and “Central African Kingdoms” Links: BBC World Service’s The Story of Africa: “West African Kingdoms,” (HTML) “The Swahili,” (HTML) and “Central African Kingdoms” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Each of the above links takes you to a specific chapter in the BBC’s “The Story of Africa.” Please read the introductory text to each chapter and use the index to the right of that text to access the additional text for each chapter. These readings provide you with an overview of various states and empires that emerged in Africa over the past millennia. Take note of the vast differences in political organization (e.g. city-states, kingdoms, federations, etc.) and the intricate forms of political administration that developed. A form of political organization common in pre-colonial Africa but not addressed in these readings is referred to as acephalous (or state-less) societies. Characteristic of such societies is the absence of centralized political authority. Such political governance centered around kinship, age groups or multiple leaders;  the Nuer, Balanta, and Igbo are examples of acephalous societies.
     
    This reading should take you approximately 4 hours to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

1.2 The Scramble for Africa and Colonialism   1.2.1 Before the Scramble   - Web Media: BBC World Service’s The Story of Africa: “Part 17: Africa on the Eve of Colonialism” Link: BBC World Service’s The Story of Africa: “Part 17: Africa on the Eve of Colonialism” (Windows Media Player)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above to access BBC World Service’s The Story of Africa.  Then, click on the link for “Part 17: Africa on the Eve of Colonialism,” and select your preferred media format.  Listen to this entire audio clip (29 minutes).  This resource offers a glimpse into various African societies in nineteenth century Africa just before the onset of colonialism.  Please note the descriptions of diverse political, economic, and social structures and systems present in African societies.  Far from barbaric, uncivilized, and primitive as the European colonizers wanted people to believe, Africans had developed sophisticated societies with advanced administrative structures
 
This resource should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

1.2.2 The Scramble for Africa   - Reading: The Economist: “The Scramble for Africa” Link: The Economist: “The Scramble for Africa” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Note that the European powers started to colonize Africa during the second part of the nineteenth century, when they wanted to have full control over Africa largely for economic and geopolitical reasons.  By 1884, “The Scramble for Africa” had intensified as France, Great Britain, Germany, and Portugal staked claims on African territory.   From November 15, 1884 to January 20, 1885, under the leadership of German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, European powers convened and set up the rules for the colonization of Africa.  This meeting and its resultant agreement are now known as the Berlin Conference.  This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Hunter College: Ehiedu E. G. Iweriebor’s “The Colonization of Africa” Link: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Hunter College: Ehiedu E. G. Iweriebor’s “The Colonization of Africa” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire essay on the colonization of Africa.  Dr. Iweriebor explores various motivations for Europe’s imperial interests in Africa, the conquest of the continent, and African responses to European intrusions.
     
    Additionally, Dr. Iweriebor discusses the two dominant forms of colonial rule that were adopted by the European colonizers: indirect rule and direct rule. The British espoused indirect rule, a system of a small number of European officials who ruled through existing African leaders and institutions, as their preferred method for colonial governance. Indirect rule contrasted the French system of direct rule.  Driven by the notion of assimilation, the French administrative structure was characterized by smaller regional units with a French colonial official at the head of each unit.  While “traditional” rulers remained with direct rule, these rulers lost their typical responsibilities.  
     
    Be sure to take a look at the picture gallery to the right of the essay; the descriptions provide interesting glimpses into the colonial conquest and life under colonialism.
     
    Finally, please compare and contrast the accounts of the colonial conquest and colonialism offered by the author of the Economist article and by Dr. Iweriebor. Notwithstanding the obvious differences in academic rigor, a basic analysis reveals two fundamentally disparate orientations to the topic—one is Eurocentric and one is Afrocentric.
     
    This reading should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.3 The Map of Colonial Africa   - Reading: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 2: Studying Africa through the Social Studies: Module 9, African Economies, Colonialism and Africa’s Integration into the Global Economy” Link: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 2: Studying Africa through the Social Studies: Module 9, African Economies, Colonialism and Africa’s Integration into the Global Economy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above, and scroll down the webpage until you see the map entitled ‘Colonialism (1914).’  The map shows that the entire continent had been colonized by European states (only Liberia and Ethiopia remained independent). Note the primary colonizing states and the extent of their reach. As a consequence of World War I (1914-1918), Germany lost its colonies in Africa.  These colonies were placed under the control of France, Great Britain, and Belgium in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
 
This resource should take you approximately 15 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

1.3 African Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and Independence   1.3.1 African Resistance to Colonialism   - Reading: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 2: Studying Africa through the Social Studies: Module 7B, African History, the Era of Global Encroachment” Link: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 2: Studying Africa through the Social Studies: Module 7B, African History, the Era of Global Encroachment” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above and read the material on African resistance, nationalism, and independence.  It provides a succinct overview of African resistance to colonialism.  Pay particular attention to the strategies employed by Africans, the types of demands that were at the center of resistance movements, and external factors that shaped such resistance.  It becomes clear that independence was the direct result of consistent and persistent political agency on the part of Africans throughout the colonial period.
 
This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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1.3.2 Pan-Africanism   - Reading: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Rutgers University: Dr. Minkah Makalani’s “Pan-Africanism” Link: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Rutgers University: Dr. Minkah Makalani’s “Pan-Africanism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read Dr. Makalani’s essay on the development of Pan-Africanism.  Pan-Africanism, developed outside of Africa in response to colonialism and racial discrimination, played a key role in crystallizing African thought and anti-colonial activism, ultimately leading to independence.  Pan-Africanism continues to play an important role in the pursuit of policies on a continent-wide scale, as we will explore in later units.
 
This reading should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Kwame Nkrumah’s “I Speak of Freedom” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Paul Halsall’s version of Kwame Nkrumah’s “I Speak of Freedom” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the text of this 1961 speech by Ghanaian independence movement leader and the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah.  Nkrumah was a staunch supporter of Pan-Africanism. He firmly believed that African states, upon gaining their independence, needed to rely on each other to overcome the obstacles of political and economic development.  To that end, Nkrumah advocated a very close political union between independent African states that would ultimately lead to a “United States of Africa.”  , Because few people shared his vision, such close cooperation among African states never materialized.
     
    This reading should take you approximately 15 minutes to complete
     
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1.3.3 Decolonization   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation: West Chester University Professor Jim Jones’ “Routes to Independence in Africa. Four Examples Algeria, Egypt, Gold Coast, and the Congo” Link: The Saylor Foundation: West Chester University Professor Jim Jones’ “Routes to Independence in Africa. Four Examples Algeria, Egypt, Gold Coast, and the Congo” (PDF)

 Also Available in:  
 [HTML](http://courses.wcupa.edu/jones/his311/lectures/4cases.htm)  
    
 Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the webpage
in its entirety.  This text presents four examples that demonstrate
the various paths to independence that different African countries
have taken.  
    
 Note that by the end of World War I, with the exception of Ethiopia
and Liberia, the rest of Africa had been colonized.  European
colonizers quelled African resistance and managed to rule the
continent.  Shortly thereafter, World War II began to have a
profound effect on African consciousness, when North Africa became a
battle ground and Africans were recruited to fight for the Allies in
Europe and Asia.  In the late 1940s, returning soldiers started to
question their European colonizers and began to form political
parties in order to mobilize resistance.  Furthermore, powers like
France and Britain, emerging from foreign occupations and economic
shocks of World War II, were no longer able to finance or justify
maintaining colonies in Africa.  The 1950s saw the emergence of
African independence movements, and in 1960 alone, 17 African
countries became independent.  Not all African countries took the
same route to independence.  In this section, you will read about
the different paths that different African states took.  
    
 This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the
kind permission of Jim Jones, and can be viewed in its original form
[here](http://courses.wcupa.edu/jones/his311/lectures/4cases.htm)
(HTML).  Please note that this material is under copyright and
cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission
from the copyright holder.  

1.3.4 The Map of Independent Africa   - Web Media: University of Texas: Perry-Casta?eda Library Map Collections’ 2011 “Reference Map of Africa” Link: University of Texas: Perry-Casta?eda Library Map Collections’ 2011 “Reference Map of Africa” (PDF)
 
Instructions: The link above takes you to a list of Africa maps available in this map collection.  Select the 11th map from the top (the first reference map listed) to open the PDF file.  This map depicts Africa’s countries (including Africa’s ‘newest’ state South Sudan), major rivers, lakes, and deserts.  Please familiarize yourself with the physicality of the African continent and gain a general understanding of the location of African states.
 
The political map of Africa is relatively new.  Since the end of colonialism and the emergence of new countries on the African continent, Africa’s political map has solidified into its present form.  Please note the fragmentation of the continent in terms of the sheer number of countries as well as the peculiarities of their shapes.  Specifically, there are a total of 55 countries in Africa (those who do not recognize Western Sahara as an independent country put the number at 54).  Some countries are rather oddly shaped.  The Gambia in western Africa, for example, extends for 220 miles along the Gambia River and is no more than 18 miles wide; it has a small coastline and is otherwise surrounded by Senegal.  Lesotho, on the other hand, is completely surrounded by South Africa.  Also, you should note the unusually high number of landlocked countries (countries that lack direct access to the sea).  Africa has 15 landlocked countries; these countries are among the world’s least developed countries in part due  to transportation barriers.  Such peculiarities also highlight the fact that Africa’s borders were drawn with little regard for cultural or political boundaries on the ground. Therefore, it is remarkable that Africa has experienced very few secessionist movements (i.e. efforts to break away from existing states).  The recent independence of South Sudan is a notable exception.
 
This resource should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
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  • Assignment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Map Exercises Items to be Identified,” “Map Exercise 1,” “Map Exercise 2,” “Map for Map Exercise 1,” “Map for Exercise 2,” “Map Exercise 1 Answer Key,” and “Map Exercise 2 Answer Key” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Map Exercises Items to be Identified,” “Map Exercise 1,” “Map Exercise 2,” “Map for Map Exercise 1,” “Map for Exercise 2,” “Answer Key to Map Exercise 1,” and “Answer Key to Map Exercise 2” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please download the documents in the order listed above.  The first document contains the names of all African countries and their capital cities as well as a list of key African geographical features.  You are expected to familiarize yourself with this list and use it to complete the map exercises.  “Map Exercise 1” and “Map Exercise 2” are documents you can use to record your answers.  The maps that are provided to you are blank maps that contain numbers.  Please match these numbers with their corresponding countries and capitals or geographical features (see Map Exercises Items to be Identified).  You may check your answers after you have completed the exercises by using the answer keys.
     
    This assignment should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.

1.4 The Legacy of Colonialism   - Web Media: YouTube: Al Jazeera English’s “Africa: States of Independence – The Scramble for Africa” Link: YouTube: Al Jazeera English’s “Africa: States of Independence – The Scramble for Africa” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
Adobe Flash (w/ article)
 
Instructions:  Please click on the link above, and view the entire historical documentary, which is approximately 45 minutes long.  As you view this documentary, consider the extent to which colonialism had a negative effect on Africa.  Do these European colonizers continue to influence their former colonies?  How so?
 
Note that despite earning independence, much of Africa has remained underdeveloped and unstable, enduring ongoing civil conflict.  The colonial powers introduced artificial boundaries, exploited natural resources, and generated tension on the continent.  While colonialism is not the only influence on contemporary African politics, many scholars still view it as the root cause of many of Africa’s ills.  A string of African dictatorships, widespread corruption, and the Cold War have only exacerbated these problems in the second half of the 20th century.
 
Earlier in this unit, you read about pre-colonial Africa, the colonization of Africa, and the paths Africans have taken to earn their independence.  You will conclude this unit by considering the effect that colonization has had on modern day Africa.
 
This resource should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 2: Studying Africa through the Social Studies: Module 7B, African History, the Era of Global Encroachment” Link: Michigan State University’s Exploring Africa: “Unit 2: Studying Africa through the Social Studies: Module 7B, African History, the Era of Global Encroachment” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Access the webpage above for a brief overview of the practice and legacy of colonialism.  The material presented includes an exploration of the primary political, economic, and social ramifications of colonialism.  Some scholars argue that Africa’s political institutions are the direct outgrowths of colonial intervention.  Institutions such as constitutions and electoral rules can persist across generations, because people become accustomed to them and invested in them. 
     
    This reading should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Binghamton University—Institute of Global Cultural Studies: Dr. Ali Mazrui’s “Using 50 Years of Independence to Judge 100 Years of Colonial Rule” Link: Binghamton University—Institute of Global Cultural Studies: Dr. Ali Mazrui’s “Using 50 Years of Independence to Judge 100 Years of Colonial Rule” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: The webpage above takes you to a listing of publications by Binghamton University’s Institute of Global Cultural Studies. Scroll down to “Select Mazrui Lectures” and click on the fifth entry entitled, “Using 50 Years of Independence to Judge 100 Years of Colonial Rule”; a PDF file will open.  In this short essay, the renowned scholar Dr. Mazrui explores different schools of thought regarding the lasting impact of colonialism on Africa.  It appears that the dynamism and complexities of the African continent decry a simple assessment of the colonial legacy.
     
    This reading should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.