Books/web sites about pre-colonial, sub-saharan Africa?

May 2012
Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
Hi, i've recently became very interested in what was going on in sub-saharan Africa before us Europeans came along but im stuggling to find any info on the topic. I asked this on Yahoo answers and everyone was completely uselss so i decided to sign up here since you all seem very professional lol.

So does anybody know any good books or websites or even documentaries about it? It would be really helpful if you told me :)


Tuthmosis III

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
the middle ground
This is an informative and balanced start, though older (1973), for West Africa from 1000 to 1800:

[ame=""] Peoples & Empires of West Africa (9780175114481): George T. Stride: Books[/ame]

Try to find this one in a library, unless you're really interested and want to spend the money! (LOL) It is more recent (1998):

[ame=""] West Africa before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850 (9780582318526): Basil Davidson: [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@21rZGp8O-yL[/ame]
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Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
I am just now re-reading Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali right now. This a primary source carried down by the griots by oral tradition. Extremely enjoyable.

Also, the Tariq Es Soudan regarding the Songhai empire, altough a full copy probably only exists in French.


Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
Canary Islands-Spain
There are two major, highly praised works about African History:

*The Cambridge History (eight volumes): [ame=""]The Cambridge History of Africa, Volume 1: From the Earliest Times to c. 500 B.C.: J. Desmond Clark: 9780521222150: [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@51826VY9VQL[/ame]

*The Unesco History (seven volumes): [ame=""] UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. II, Abridged Edition: Ancient Africa (v. 2) (9780520066977): G. Mokhtar: [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@41XP72SM1KL[/ame]

These are histories of the entire continent, so the mix the tale of Northern Africa with that of Subsaharan Africa. Don't worry, they are veeery extensive.

I've read both and in my opinion the Unesco one is easier to read, while the Cambridge one is denser. Both are a bit outdated, specially regarding prehistory, but they can provide you with the base on African civilizations.
Mar 2010
Note that we know medieval sub-saharian Africa mainly through the lens of Muslim travellers or wealthy muslim elites in the local courts (Empire of Ghana, Songhay, Mali).
Here's some specialists that I recommend:
Elikia M'Bokolo (no title available in english on amazon, might have been translated, check your library.)

Joseph Ki-Zerbo. This is the first of a serie on the history of Africa.
[ame=""] UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. I, Abridged Edition: Methodology and African Prehistory (9780520066960): Joseph Ki-Zerbo: [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@51JRN2QYXML[/ame]

Robert Collins. I've only read few passages, seems very legit though.
[ame=""]Problems in African History: The Precolonial Centuries (Topics in World History) (v. 1): James McDonald Burns, Robert O. Collins, Erik K. Ching, Erik Kristofer Ching: 9781558760592: [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@61CELB4VhHL[/ame]

You should also complement your readings of books with primary sources (before the 15-16th century). Ibn Battuta and Al-Bakri are especially informative and translated.
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