Africa: Nationalism

Nationalism

Nationalism is the belief that a group of people have the right to live in and govern their own nation-state. European powers had gained control over most of Africa in the late 1800s and established colonies. In the 1900s, African nationalist movements emerged in many parts of the continent that sought to end colonial rule and European economic power. Eventually, […]

Nasser, Gamal Abdel

Nasser, Gamal Abdel

1918–1970 President of Egypt President of EGYPT from 1956 to 1970, Gamal Abdel Nasser was a leading figure in the Arab world. The son of a postal clerk, Nasser attended primary school in a small village in the Nile Delta. He moved to his uncle’s home in Cairo, where he received his secondary education and then attended law school […]

The Republic of Namibia

The Republic of Namibia

POPULATION: 2.403 million (2014) AREA: 317,260 sq. mi. (824,295 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English (official); Afrikaans, German, Damara, Herero, Kavango, Ovambo, Nama NATIONAL CURRENCY: Namibian dollar PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Christian 80–90%, Traditional 10–20% CITIES: Windhoek (capital), 190,000 (1995 est.); Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Keetmanshoop, Rehoboth ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from less than 2 in. (51 mm) in western Namib and lower Orange River valley to more than 19.8 […]

Nairobi

Nairobi

Nairobi, the capital of KENYA, is the largest city in eastern Africa south of CAIRO, Egypt. British colonists founded Nairobi in 1899 as a camp for laborers who were building the railroad from the coastal city of Mombasa to Lake Victoria. A railway yard and depot were established, and the camp grew rapidly into a town. In 1905 the […]

Mzilikazi

Mzilikazi

ca. 1790–1868 Founder of Ndebele kingdom For a short time in the early 1800s, Mzilikazi served as a lieutenant in the army of the Zulu ruler SHAKA ZULU. After one battle, Mzilikazi kept the cattle he captured instead of sending them to Shaka. When the chief sent men to investigate, Mzilikazi insulted Shaka by cutting the feathers off their […]

Africa: Mythology

Mythology

Myths are the stories that define a culture. They tell of the creation or beginning of the world; of deities and their relations with humans; and of the values, heroes, and histories of a group or society. Cosmological myths—those about the origin, structure, or purpose of the universe—reveal a culture’s ideas about the universe. With the passage of time, myths […]

Mvemba Nzinga

Mvemba Nzinga

ca. 1465–1543 Ruler of kingdom of Kongo Mvemba Nzinga, son of the ruler of the kingdom of Kongo, was baptized as a Christian in 1491 and took the name Afonso I. When his father died in 1506, Mvemba Nzinga became king, claiming that he had divine help in gaining the throne. He increased his power by selling ivory, copper, […]

Mutesa II, Frederick

Mutesa II, Frederick

1924–1969 Ruler of Buganda Frederick Mutesa II, known as “King Freddie” by Westerners, was ruler of the East African state of Buganda from 1939 to 1953. Buganda enjoyed special treatment within the British colony of UGANDA until 1953. When the British decided to end Buganda’s special status, Mutesa demanded independence for his kingdom. When he also refused to pass along […]

Mutapa

Mutapa

Mutapa, or Mwene Mutapa (meaning “Ravager of the Lands”), is the title held by a dynasty of kings that ruled the area that is now ZIMBABWE and MOZAMBIQUE from the 1400s to the 1880s. Historians also use the term to refer to the state led by these kings. The Mutapa state probably arose from branches of the nearby culture […]

Africa: Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments

Wall paintings in ancient Egyptian tombs show that the people of Africa have made and played musical instruments for thousands of years. Over the centuries, the many invaders of Africa introduced new instruments. Arabs brought musical instruments and styles that became part of the culture of North Africa, the western savanna, and the eastern coast. European colonial armies and missionaries […]

Africa: Music and Song

Music and Song

From the rural farmlands of MOZAMBIQUE to the booming dance halls of NIGERIA, music plays an essential role in the lives of Africans. Many regions have rich, deeply rooted traditions of music and song. But Africans have also incorporated in their music various outside influences—of the Arabs who arrived on the continent long ago, of the Europeans who ruled until […]

Museveni, Yoeri

Museveni, Yoeri

1944– President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, a former political activist, became president of UGANDA in 1986. Under his leadership, Uganda has achieved considerable political stability and economic growth. As a youth Museveni organized a movement to prevent pastoralists from being forced off their lands. He attended the University of Dar es Salaam in TANZANIA, where he led a student group […]

Muhammad V

Muhammad V

1909–1961 King of Morocco King Muhammad V was the first ruler of MOROCCO after the country gained its independence from France in 1956. Born Sidi Muhammad, the future king was the son of Sultan Moulay Yusuf. When Yusuf died in 1927, the French colonial authorities named the 18-yearold Muhammad as the new sultan. The French hoped to control the young […]

Mugabe, Robert

Mugabe, Robert

1924– President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe has been the leader of ZIMBABWE since the country achieved independence in 1980. Born and educated in a Catholic mission in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, Mugabe became a teacher. In 1956 he moved to the newly independent nation of GHANA. Several years later, he returned to his home country and entered […]

Mubarak, Hosni

Mubarak, Hosni

1928–2011 President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak became president of EGYPT in 1981 after the assassination of Anwar SADAT. Reelected several times, Mubarak has steered Egypt through a difficult period marked by growing unrest, guerrilla violence, and threats from Islamic political groups. Born in the Nile River delta to a peasant family, Mubarak graduated from the Cairo Military Academy […]

Republic of Mozambique

Republic of Mozambique

POPULATION: 27.22 million (2014) AREA: 308,642 sq. mi. (799,384 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Portuguese (official); Sena, Shona, Makua, Swahili, and others NATIONAL CURRENCY: Metical PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Traditional 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20% CITIES: Maputo (capital), 3,025,000 (2000 est.); Tete, Beira, Quelimane, Sofala ANNUAL RAINFALL: 55 in. (1,420 mm) in center, less in the north and south ECONOMY: GDP $16.39 billion (2014) PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS […]

Mossi

Mossi

The Mossi are the largest ethnic group in BURKINA FASO, making up almost half of the population. They speak Mooré, which is used as a common language throughout the country. The Mossi arose from the merging of many different ethnic groups and formed several competing empires. Soldiers known as Mossi conquered the city of TIMBUKTU during the reign of Emperor […]

Moshoeshoe I

Moshoeshoe I

1786–1870 Founder and king of Basutoland Founder and king of the Basotho nation (present-day LESOTHO), Moshoeshoe I was noted for his military skill and diplomatic abilities. He played a major role in protecting Lesotho from conquest by European settlers, and he helped the country achieve independence. Originally named Lepoqo, Moshoeshoe was the son of a Koena chief. While a young […]

Kingdom of Morocco map

Kingdom of Morocco

POPULATION: 33.92 million (2014) AREA: 178,620 sq. mi. (446,550 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Arabic (official); French, Berber dialects NATIONAL CURRENCY: Dirham PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2% CITIES: Rabat (capital), 1,496,000 (2000 est.); Casablanca, Marrakech, Fez, Oujda ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from about 32 in. (800 mm) to less than 8 in. (200 mm) in the northern coastal lowlands, and 30–80 in. (760–2,030 mm) […]

Africa: Money and Banking

Money and Banking

African societies had many types of money in the precolonial period, but no banking systems. As Europeans established colonies in Africa in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they introduced uniform systems of money and established banks to handle the exchange of money and other financial transactions. MONEY Money has three distinct functions. It can serve as a medium […]

Mondlane, Eduardo Chivambo

Mondlane, Eduardo Chivambo

1920–1969 Mozambican anticolonial leader Eduardo Mondlane established the freedom movement known as FRELIMO that eventually won MOZAMBIQUE’s independence from Portugal. Educated in South Africa, Portugal, and the United States, Mondlane became heavily involved with the movement for Mozambican independence. He concluded that Portugal’s inflexible attitude probably meant that war was inevitable for Mozambique. However, he was determined to avoid devastating the country […]

Moi, Daniel arap

Moi, Daniel arap

1924– President of Kenya In 1978 Daniel Toroitich arap Moi succeeded Jomo KENYATTA as president of KENYA. Moi has managed to remain in power since then, despite a growing opposition and accusations of corruption. A member of the Kalenjin people, an ethnic minority in Kenya, Moi worked as a teacher as a young man. In 1955 he was one […]

Mogadishu

Mogadishu

Mogadishu, the capital of SOMALIA, is the nation’s largest city and major seaport. During the long civil war that ravaged Somalia in the 1980s and 1990s, large parts of the city were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants fled to other towns and to the countryside. Mogadishu was founded in the A.D. 900s as a Swahili and […]

Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko

1930–1997 President of Zaire President of Zaire—now known as CONGO (KINSHASA)—from 1965 to 1997, Mobutu Sese Seko ruled as a dictator. His regime gained a reputation for corruption and mismanagement. Despite Zaire’s rich natural resources, the nation suffered a serious economic decline under Mobutu’s rule. Born Joseph Désiré Mobutu in the Belgian colony of Congo, Mobutu was educated in missionary […]

Africa: Missions and Missionaries

Missions and Missionaries

Christian missionaries have played an important, yet inconsistent, role in African history. While the goal of missions has remained the same—to convert indigenous peoples to CHRISTIANITY, methods and attitudes have changed dramatically over time. During the last 1,500 years, the focus of missionary activity in Africa has shifted from the people in power to the average African. As a result, […]

Africa: Minerals and Mining

Minerals and Mining

Deep in the ground of the African continent lies a wealth of minerals, metals, and gems. But few African countries—and few Africans—receive the benefits of these resources. The lack of technology and investment money have limited mining operations, and not all countries have significant resources. However, even countries with major deposits have seen most of the profits go to foreign […]

Meroë

Meroë

Located on the Nile River about 120 miles north of present-day KHARTOUM, the royal city of Meroë was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Kush. The kingdom arose in the region known as NUBIA (in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan) about 750 B.C. and flourished until the A.D. 300s. Although strongly influenced by Egypt, the Kushites […]

Menilek II

Menilek II

1844–1913 Emperor of Ethiopia Menilek II was the son of the heir to the kingdom of Shewa in what is now central ETHIOPIA. In 1856 TÉWODROS II used modern weapons to conquer Shewa and many other parts of Ethiopia. Menilek was captured and taken to Téwodros’s court, where he was raised and educated. Nine years later, he escaped and […]

Mengistu Haile Mariam

Mengistu Haile Mariam

ca. 1942– President of Ethiopia Mengistu Haile Mariam led a military coup that removed Ethiopia’s emperor HAILE SELASSIE I from power in 1974. As head of state, Mengistu hoped to modernize Ethiopian society and unify the country by lessening ethnic rivalries. Mengistu’s military career began when he joined the Ethiopian army at the age of 14. After attending officer […]

Mboya, Tom

Mboya, Tom

1930–1969 Kenyan labor and political leader Tom Mboya was a labor leader who played a key role in the early government of KENYA after independence. At age 22 he founded a government workers’ union and later became general secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labor. At the time, labor organizations had considerable power in Kenya (then a British colony) because […]

Mauritius

Mauritius

The small island nation of Mauritius lies about 500 miles east of MADAGASCAR in the Indian Ocean. It consists of Mauritius and several small islands off to the north and east. Once heavily dependent on the production of sugar, Mauritius has developed a strong economy that includes a variety of manufacturing industries. Of volcanic origin, the island of Mauritius […]

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania

POPULATION: 3.970 million (2014) AREA: 397,953 sq. mi. (1,030,700 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Hasaniya Arabic, French (both official); Wolof, Pular, Soninke NATIONAL CURRENCY: Ouguiya PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Muslim, nearly 100% CITIES: Nouakchott (capital), 735,000 (1995 est.); Atar, Zouérate, Kaédi, Nouadhibou ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from less than 20 in. (500 mm) in the south to less than 4 in. (100 mm) in the northern desert region […]

Mau Mau

Mau Mau

Mau Mau began as a movement by Africans against British rule in KENYA in the 1950s. Eventually the movement became a guerrilla war. With complex political, economic, and social roots, Mau Mau has been interpreted in various ways. To the fighters and their supporters, Mau Mau was a struggle for liberation. To European settlers and British officials, it was […]

Africa: Masks and Masquerades

Masks and Masquerades

Many African societies have a rich tradition of masquerades, which are plays, ceremonies, or dances by masked performers. Masquerades provide entertainment, define social roles, and communicate religious meaning. The masks used in such performances may be treasured as works of art. They are also important symbols of ancestors, spirits, or even the history and culture of whole peoples. Masks Masks […]

Africa : Marriage Systems

Marriage Systems

Marriage takes many forms in Africa. Throughout the continent, the diversity of systems reflects the traditions, religions, and economic circumstances of a wide variety of distinct cultures. Islamic laws and customs have shaped the institution of marriage in North Africa and in some nations of western and eastern Africa. In recent years, modern life, industry, and cities have brought changes […]

Africa: Markets

Markets

The open-air market is an important feature of African life in both rural and urban areas. As centers of commerce where cash and barter transactions take place, they play a key role in the economy. Most African agricultural products and craft goods enter the system of exchange at local markets, alongside imported products. Tailors, barbers, carpenters, and other tradesmen come […]

Maranke, John

Maranke, John

1912–1963 African religious leader John Maranke was the founder of a successful independent church called the Apostolic Church of John Maranke. Today the church claims over 500,000 members in Africa, and many European converts outside the continent. Maranke was born Muchabaya Ngomberume in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). His mother was the daughter of the Shona chief Maranke, whose clan name […]

Africa: Maps and Mapmaking

Maps and Mapmaking

If Africans had a mapmaking tradition before the coming of Europeans, no traces of it survived. The mapping of Africa was carried out largely by Europeans until independent African nations began producing their own maps in the late 1900s. The Greeks created the earliest maps of Africa, and they dealt mainly with the northern and eastern coastlines of the […]

Mansur, al-

Mansur, al-

1549–1603 Ruler of Morocco Mulai al-Mansur was the sixth, and perhaps greatest, ruler of the Sa’di dynasty of MOROCCO. During his reign (1578–1603) Morocco enjoyed a long period of peace and prosperity, highlighted by its conquest of the ancient city of TIMBUKTU, now part of present-day MALI. A master of diplomacy, al-Mansur managed to balance relations with many competing foreign […]

Mansa Musa

Mansa Musa

Early 1300s Emperor of Mali Mansa Musa was the most famous ruler of the ancient West African empire of MALI. During his reign the Mali empire reached its greatest size, extending hundreds of miles from north to south and from east to west. However, Mansa Musa is best remembered for his pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of Islam, […]

Mandela, Nelson

Mandela, Nelson

1918–2013 President of South Africa Nelson Mandela is one of the best-known and most influential political leaders in Africa. Imprisoned for many years because of his activities against apartheid, he later became the first black president of SOUTH AFRICA. For many South Africans, Mandela symbolized the hope for black equality. Born in the Transkei region of South Africa, Mandela […]

Mami Wata

Mami Wata

Mami Wata is a female figure important to religious and social life in many parts of Africa. In some cultures she is a goddess. In others, the term Mami Wata refers to women who have the qualities of Mami Wata, including exceptional beauty and great power. Throughout western and central Africa, Mami Wata is a beautiful river goddess with long […]

The Republic of Mali

The Republic of Mali

POPULATION: 17.09 million (2014) AREA: 478,767 sq. mi. (1,240,007 sq. km) LANGUAGES: French (official); Bambara, numerous others NATIONAL CURRENCY: C.F.A. Franc PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Muslim 90%, Traditional 9%, Christian 1% CITIES: Bamako (capital), 919,000 (1999 est.); Mopti, Ségou, Kayes, Gao, Kimparana ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 20–60 in. (500–1,500 mm) in the south to 0–7 in. (0–175 mm) in the Sahara region ECONOMY: GDP $12.07 […]

The Republic of Malawi

The Republic of Malawi

POPULATION: 16.70 million (2014) AREA: 45,747 sq. mi. (118,484 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English, Chewa (both official); Tonga, Yao, Tumbuka, Lomwe NATIONAL CURRENCY: Kwacha PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Protestant 55%, Muslim 20%, Roman Catholic 20%, Traditional 5% CITIES: Lilongwe (capital), 395,500 (1994 est.); Blantyre, Zomba, Mzuzu ANNUAL RAINFALL: 30–40 in. (760–1,010 mm) ECONOMY: GDP $4.258 billion (2014) PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS AND EXPORTS: Agricultural: tea, tobacco, sugar, cotton, […]

Maji Maji

Maji Maji

Between 1905 and 1907 several small ethnic groups from Tanganyika (present-day TANZANIA) rebelled against German colonial authorities in an uprising known as the Maji Maji Rebellion. Although unsuccessful, the rebellion was one of the most important events in the history of East Africa. The Maji Maji Rebellion was centered in the southern highlands of German East Africa, a colonial territory […]

Mahfouz, Naguib

Mahfouz, Naguib

1911–2006 Egyptian writer Author of 40 novels and short story collections and more than 30 screenplays, Naguib Mahfouz received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988. He was the first Arabic author to win that honor, which brought attention to his work and to modern Arabic fiction in general. During most of his writing career, Mahfouz also worked in […]

Maherero, Samuel

Maherero, Samuel

ca. 1854–1923 Chief of the Herero Samuel Maherero became chief of the HERERO people of NAMIBIA after the death of his father in 1890. Baptized and schooled by German missionaries, Maherero cooperated with German colonists who arrived in Namibia about this time. By selling land to the Germans, he obtained their support in overthrowing and conquering rival Herero chiefs. In […]

Al-Mahdi

Mahdi, al-

ca. 1840–1885 Sudanese religious leader Al-Mahdi, the founder of an Islamic religious movement, seized control of SUDAN and established an empire that lasted for nearly 20 years. Born Muhammed Ahmad ibn Sayyid Abdullah, he began religious studies at an early age and joined a religious order in the capital city of KHARTOUM. He eventually left the order and moved […]

Maghreb

Maghreb

Maghreb, or Maghrib, is an Arabic word meaning “west” or “place of sunset.” It refers to the area of North Africa west of EGYPT. Known in ancient times as Africa Minor, the Maghreb refers to MOROCCO, ALGERIA, TUNISIA, and sometimes LIBYA. The interior desert regions of these countries are not always considered part of the Maghreb. The Maghreb contains […]

Madagascar

Madagascar

POPULATION: 23.57 million (2014) AREA: 226,658 sq. mi. (587,044 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Malagasy and French (both official) NATIONAL CURRENCY: Malagasy franc PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Traditional 52%, Christian 41%, Muslim 7% CITIES: Antananarivo (capital), 1,507,000 (2000 est.); Mahajanga, Toamasina, Fianarantsoa, Antseranana ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 120–190 in. (3,000–5,000 mm) on the east coast to 20 in. (510 mm) in the southwest ECONOMY: GDP $10.59 billion […]

Machel, Samora Moises

Machel, Samora Moises

1933–1986 President of Mozambique Samora Machel was a leader of the independence struggle in MOZAMBIQUE who became the country’s first president in 1975. He became politically active as a young man, joining the movement known as FRELIMO that was dedicated to Mozambique’s independence. He volunteered for FRELIMO military training in ALGERIA and was later sent to Mozambique to participate in […]

Macaulay, Herbert Samuel Heelas

Macaulay, Herbert Samuel Heelas

1864–1946 Nigerian political leader Considered the founder of Nigerian nationalism, Herbert Samuel Heelas Macaulay promoted self-government in NIGERIA in the early 1900s. Born into an educated, Christian Nigerian family, Macaulay attended school in Lagos. In 1890 he won a scholarship from Nigeria’s British colonial government to study abroad. After earning a degree in civil engineering in England, he returned to […]

Maasai

Maasai

The Maasai are made up of about a dozen ethnic groups who live in the Rift Valley of east Africa, primarily in KENYA and TANZANIA.These groups speak a language called Maa and share many cultural characteristics,such as the way they dress. Their social systems are based on clans and age-sets, groups of people of the […]

Lutuli, Albert

Lutuli, Albert

1898–1967 South African political leader Albert Lutuli was president of the African National Congress (ANC), a black-led political party in SOUTH AFRICA that fought for African rights. In 1960 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in the nonviolent struggle against racism. The son of a preacher, Albert John Mavumbi Lutuli was born in Southern Rhodesia (present-day […]

Lusaka

Lusaka

Lusaka, the capital of ZAMBIA, is a sprawling city of about 1.5 million people located in an agricultural region. A financial and commercial center, the city lies at the junction of major rail lines heading to the Copper Belt, the city of Livingstone, and TANZANIA. Lusaka became the capital of the British colony of Northern Rhodesia in 1935. The […]

Luo

Luo

The Luo, an ethnic group of East Africa, inhabit a region on the eastern side of Lake Victoria. They trace their descent from people who migrated south from the Nile Valley region of southern SUDAN about 500 years ago. The majority of the Luo live in KENYA, but sizable numbers are also found in UGANDA and TANZANIA. Luo territory […]

Lumumba, Patrice Emery

Lumumba, Patrice Emery

1925–1961 Congolese political leader Patrice Emery Lumumba was the first prime minister of Zaire, the country now called CONGO (KINSHASA). Known for his fervent nationalism and his commitment to freeing Africa from colonial rule, Lumumba played a leading role in gaining independence for his country. Born in the Kasai province of the Belgian Congo, Lumumba received a basic education at […]

Lugard, Frederick John Dealtry

Lugard, Frederick John Dealtry

1858–1945 British colonial administrator Frederick John Dealtry Lugard played an important role in British colonial Africa. Lugard worked to end African slavery and slave trading. He also created the system of “indirect rule,” which gave traditional African authorities considerable control over their local affairs. Born in India of missionary parents, Lugard attended school in England and began a career in […]

Lobengula

Lobengula

ca. 1836–1894 King of Matabeleland Lobengula was the last ruler of the NDEBELE kingdom of Matabeleland in present-day ZIMBABWE. After the death of his father, MZILIKAZI, the founder of the kingdom, civil war broke out. Lobengula eventually won the war, and he took the throne in 1870. However, the kingdom remained in chaos. Lobengula spent much of his reign […]

Livingstone, David

Livingstone, David

1813–1873 British missionary and explorer David Livingstone went to Africa as a missionary in the mid-1800s and became one of the continent’s leading explorers and geographers. He also played a key role in the movement to end the SLAVE TRADE. Born in Blantyre, Scotland, Livingstone began work in a cotton mill at the age of ten. Determined to become a […]

Africa: Livestock Grazing

Livestock Grazing

Livestock grazing, also known as pastoralism, has been practiced in Africa for many thousands of years. Nomadic herding cultures existed throughout the continent long before the arrival of Europeans. As colonial governments seized land for agriculture and industry, many pastoral societies were forced to abandon or modify their traditional lifestyles. Nevertheless, some African peoples still depend on herding for their livelihood. […]

Literature

African literature has developed from sources and influences that originated both within and outside of the continent. One major source, Africa’s rich tradition of oral stories and histories, is much older than the continent’s written literature. Written scripts arose in Africa in Egyptian hieroglyphs, a complex system of picture-writing used by the ancient Egyptians. However, written scripts using alphabets and […]

Literacy

Literacy

One of the greatest challenges facing modern Africa is increasing the rate of literacy—the ability to read and write—among its population. Studies have shown that literacy leads to improvements in many areas of life. These include better health and nutrition for mothers and their children, a lower infant death rate, higher productivity in agriculture, and increased political participation. However, in […]

Libya

Libya

POPULATION: 6.259 million (2014) AREA: 679,400 sq. mi. (1,759,540 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Arabic (official); Italian, English, Berber dialects NATIONAL CURRENCY: Libyan Dinar PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Muslim (Sunni) 97% CITIES: Tripoli (capital), 1,822,000 (2000 est.); Benghazi, Misurata ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from about 4 in. (100 mm) in the steppe to less than half an inch (12.5 mm) in parts of the Sahara desert ECONOMY: […]

Liberia

Liberia

POPULATION: 4.397 million (2014) AREA: 43,000 sq. mi. (111,370 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English (official); Mande, Kru, Bassa, Vai, Kpelle, others NATIONAL CURRENCY: Liberian dollar PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Traditional 70%, Muslim 20%, Christian 10% CITIES: Monrovia (capital), 962,000 (1999 est.); Greenville, Buchanan, Robertsport, Harper ANNUAL RAINFALL: Ranges from 203 in. (5,210 mm) on northwestern coast, to 100 in. (2,540 mm) at southeastern tip of country, […]

The Kingdom of Lesotho

The Kingdom of Lesotho

POPULATION: 2.109 million (2014) AREA: 11,720 sq. mi. (30,555 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English, Sesotho (both official) NATIONAL CURRENCY: Maloti PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Christian 80%, Traditional 20% CITIES: Maseru (capital), 400,200 (1995 est.); Leribe, Mafeteng ANNUAL RAINFALL: 25 in. (635 mm) ECONOMY: GDP $2.088 billion (2014) PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS AND EXPORTS: Agricultural: livestock, mohair, corn, wheat, sorghum, peas, beans, potatoes, asparagus Manufacturing: food and beverages, […]

Leo Africanus

Leo Africanus

ca. 1485–ca. 1554 Arab geographer Leo Africanus was an Arab geographer who make numerous journeysin the northern and western regions Africa and wrote a bookabout the places he visited. Born in Spain and educated in MOROCCO, hetraveled extensively throughout North Africa and made three trips to EGYPT. South of the Sahara, he visited Gao and […]

Lenshina, Alice

Lenshina, Alice

1920–1978 Zambian religious leader and prophet Alice Lenshina was the founder of a PROPHETIC MOVEMENT that gathered tens of thousands of followers. In the 1960s she led an uprising against the colonial government in ZAMBIA. Lenshina was born in northern Zambia among the Bemba people. As a young woman, she was preparing to join the Presbyterian Church at the mission center […]

Lebanese Communities

West Africa is home to many Lebanese immigrants and their descendants, most of whom are shopkeepers and small business owners. The first Lebanese arrived in the region in the late 1800s, and many of those who came later were following relatives. Lebanese immigration increased sharply between World Wars I and II. Many of the immigrants settled in SENEGAL and other […]

Africa: Leakey Family

Leakey Family

For two generations, the Leakey family of KENYA has contributed significantly to paleoanthropology—the study of early humans and their ancestors—in Africa. Fossils discovered by the Leakeys helped establish the continent as the site of human origins. Members of the family who participated in this research include Louis S.B. Leakey (1903–1972); his second wife, Mary Douglas Leakey (1913–1996); their son, Richard […]

Laws and Legal Systems

The laws and legal systems of Africa have developed from three distinct legal traditions: traditional or customary African law, Islamic law, and the legal systems of Western Europe. In many cases European or Islamic legal traditions have replaced or significantly modified traditional African ones. Even so, customary law still exerts a strong influence in some areas of African life. AFRICAN […]

Languages

With more than 1,500 different languages, Africa boasts greater linguistic variety than any other continent. The tremendous range includes major languages such as Swahili and Hausa, spoken by millions of people, and minor languages such as Hazda, which have fewer than a thousand speakers. The linguistic situation is constantly changing. While many of the continent’s major languages are rapidly […]

Land Ownership

In modern Africa conflicting views about land ownership cause legal, political, and economic problems. Traditional African ideas concerning the use, inheritance, and disposal of land differ sharply from those of Western nations. During the colonial era, European powers usually imposed their own ideas about ownership on their African territories, often ignoring indigenous practices. The resulting confusion about land use and ownership […]

Lagos

Lagos

Lagos is the chief port and former capital city of NIGERIA. Founded by the YORUBA people in the 1400s, Lagos developed into a large regional trading post. By the 1790s it had become a major center of the Atlantic SLAVE TRADE. The British navy bombarded Lagos in 1851, and ten years later Britain gained control over the city through […]

Labor

Africa has a number of different labor systems that reflect an economy in the process of change. Still occupying an important role are the traditional forms of work and division of labor based on subsistence farming. Industrial capitalism has brought new forms of labor organization that have transformed Africa—without completely displacing the earlier systems. AFRICAN LABOR SYSTEMS Africa is still […]

La Guma, Alex

La Guma, Alex

1925–1985 South African writer Alex la Guma was a South African writer of mixed race. His novels portray the experiences of nonwhites living under APARTHEID, the policy of racial segregation followed in SOUTH AFRICA from 1948 to 1994. The son of a well-known trade union leader in CAPE TOWN, la Guma became politically active at an early age. When […]

Kruger, Paul

Kruger, Paul

1825–1904 South African political leader Paul Kruger led the Dutch AFRIKANER REPUBLICS in their war against British control in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Kruger was born in Cape Colony in what is now SOUTH AFRICA. When the British tried to take over the region, his family fled in what became known as the Great Trek—the migration of […]

Kourouma, Ahmadou

1927–2003 African novelist Ahmadou Kourouma, a celebrated writer, is the author of two of the most famous African novels in French. In his work he criticizes postcolonial governments and one-party political systems. He also describes the despair felt by many Africans when independence failed to fulfill their expectations. These themes have appeared in many works written by French-speaking Africans. Born […]

Kongo

Kongo was the name of a west-central African kingdom that emerged in the late 1400s and eventually became part of the Portuguese colony of ANGOLA. Kongo was initially a federation of several small states, whose people elected its king. Over time the kings concentrated power and resources in the capital at Mbanza Kongo and established a more centralized government. They […]

Kinship

Kinship

Kinship is the web of relationships woven by family and marriage. Traditional relations of kinship have affected the lives of African people and ethnic groups by determining what land they could farm, whom they could marry, and their status in their communities. Although different cultures have recognized various kinds of kinship, traditional kinship generally means much more than blood ties […]

Kinshasa

Kinshasa

Located on the CONGO RIVER, Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of CONGO. Stone tools found in the area indicate that the site has been inhabited since the 7000s B.C. When the explorer Henry Morton STANLEY arrived in the region in the 1880s, Kinshasa was a small fishing village. Stanley signed a treaty with […]

Kingsley, Mary Henrietta

Kingsley, Mary Henrietta

1862–1900 British traveler While growing up in London, Mary Kingsley followed her father’s travels around the world with great interest. His adventures and her own reading fueled her desire to explore the globe herself. After both parents died in 1892, Kingsley decided to travel. In the years between 1893 and 1895 she made two trips to Africa, visiting ANGOLA, the […]

Kings and Kingship

Kings have ruled in Africa at least since the time of the pharaohs, the early Egyptian kings who came to power about 3000 B.C. EGYPT’s system of royal rule lasted for nearly 3,000 years. Other kingdoms developed in western North Africa and large areas south of the Sahara desert. Some African kings ruled up to 1 million people, as […]

Kimpa Vita

Kimpa Vita

ca. 1686–1706 African religious leader Kampa Vita was a member of the nobility in the west-central African kingdom of KONGO. For a time, she was a nganga, a person who performed certain important rituals. After recovering from an illness, she claimed to have died and returned to life possessed by the spirit of the Christian saint Anthony. Taking the […]

Kimbangu, Simon

ca. 1887–1951 Congolese religious leader Simon Kimbangu was born in the Lower Congo (now CONGO, KINSHASA) and raised as a Baptist. Although not a member of the clergy, he began to preach in British missions in 1918. He also experienced a series of spiritual dreams and visions. In an effort to escape them, he moved to the city of […]

Khoisan

Khoisan

Khoisan is a name often given to the non–BANTU-speaking peoples of southern Africa formerly called Bushmen (or San) and Kxoe (or Khoi). The Khoisan do not have a common culture or ethnic background. Instead they share a unique family of languages, which features the use of “clicks.” Khoisan peoples have inhabited southern Africa for more than 20,000 years. Rock paintings […]

Khartoum

Khartoum

Khartoum is the capital and political and industrial center of SUDAN. Its strategic location at the meeting point of two rivers, the Blue Nile and White Nile, made it a much-contested prize. In 1821 northern Sudan was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. They established an outpost at nearby Omdurman, and set up a military camp at Khartoum. Three years later […]

Kenyatta, Jomo

Kenyatta, Jomo

1888 (or 1889)–1978 President of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta, the most important African leader in colonial KENYA, served as the country’s first president after independence. A member of the GIKUYU ethnic group, Kenyatta was born Kamauwa Muigai, and later baptized under the name Johnstone. After leaving the Scottish mission school he attended as a youth, he changed his name to Jomo […]

Republic of Kenya

Republic of Kenya

POPULATION: 44.86 million (2014) AREA: 224,960 sq. mi. (582, 646 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English, Swahili (official); Gikuyu, Nandi, Kamba, Luhya, Luo NATIONAL CURRENCY: Kenya shilling PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Protestant 38%, Roman Catholic 28%, Traditional 26%, Muslim 7%, Other 1% CITIES: Nairobi (capital), 2,000,000 (1999 est.); Mombasa, Nakuru, Kitale, Nyeri, Kisumu, Thika, Malindi, Kericho ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 29 in. (750 mm) in the highlands […]

Kaunda, Kenneth

Kaunda, Kenneth

1924– President of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda served as ZAMBIA’s first president and became a prominent political leader within Africa. Born in what was then Northern Rhodesia, Kaunda trained as a teacher but became active in politics in the 1950s. He organized the local branch of the African National Congress, the country’s first political party, and later served as the party’s […]

Kanemi, Muhammad al-Amin al-

Kanemi, Muhammad al-Amin al-

ca. 1775–ca. 1837 Scholar and ruler of Bornu Muhammad al-Kanemi was born in southwestern LIBYA and received an extensive Muslim education in both Africa and Arabia. He traveled widely, finally settling in the kingdom of BORNU in north central Africa in 1799. There he attracted a large following of scholars. Soon after his arrival, the ruler of Bornu asked for […]

Kalahari Desert

Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari Desert is a large, sandy plain in southern Africa with forested regions in its northern reaches. Really a semidesert or dry savanna rather than a true desert, the Kalahari measures about 1,000 miles from north to south and 600 miles from east to west at its broadest points. About 100,000 KHOISAN people and approximately 1.5 million BANTU-speaking people […]

Kagwa, Apolo

Kagwa, Apolo

ca. 1868–1927 Prime minister of Buganda Apolo Kagwa emerged as the leader of the Christian Party, one of thegroups struggling to control BUGANDA during the religious wars of the late 1800s. From 1889 to 1926, he served as katikiro (prime minister) of the semi-autonomous kingdom of Buganda under British authority. In 1897 Kagwa helped overthrow Buganda’s King Mwanga […]

Kadalie, Clements

ca. 1896–1951 South African labor leader Clements Kadalie, an early African labor leader, organized a black union that challenged white rule in SOUTH AFRICA. After graduating from high school in his home country of Nyasaland (now MALAWI), Kadalie traveled through southeastern Africa. He arrived in CAPE TOWN in 1918. That year he founded the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union of […]

Kabarega

Kabarega

ca. 1850–1923 King of Bunyoro-Kitara Kabarega was ruler of the kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara in what is now the nation of UGANDA. During his reign he expanded the empire and led a determined resistance to British colonization in East Africa. Although some historians consider Kabarega a tyrant and a murderer, others see him as a hero and an early African […]

Judaism in Africa

Judaism in Africa

Judaism in Africa is represented mainly by two separate groups of people: Jews from Europe and the Middle East and indigenous Africans who claim Jewish or Israelite descent. Jews from the Middle East arrived in Africa before A.D. 400, settling mainly in North African countries such as EGYPT and ALGERIA. Most worked as artisans, merchants, or laborers. In the […]

Johnson, Samuel

Johnson, Samuel

1846–1901 Yoruba historian Samuel Johnson was the author of the first important history of the YORUBA people. The son of a liberated slave and descendant of African kings, Johnson was born in SIERRA LEONE. At the age of 11, he and his family moved back to Yorubaland in what is now NIGERIA. Educated in schools run by the Church […]

Johannesburg

Johannesburg

Johannesburg is the largest city in SOUTH AFRICA. It was renamed Greater Johannesburg in 1994, when its boundaries were extended to include surrounding suburbs. With a population of more than 5 million people, Greater Johannesburg is growing faster than any other major city in Africa. Geography and Peoples Greater Johannesburg is located inland on the Highveld, South Africa’s broad central […]

Ivory Trade

Ivory Trade

For centuries ivory—the material of elephant tusks—was one of the most sought-after luxury items from Africa. A brisk ivory trade developed in ancient times, linking hunters deep within the continent to markets around the world. By the 1980s elephants had been hunted nearly to extinction, and most nations banned the ivory trade. Egyptian records show that Africans were trading […]

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

POPULATION: 20.80 million (2014) AREA: 124,503 sq. mi. (322,463 sq. km) LANGUAGES: French (official); Dioula (Djula), other native languages NATIONAL CURRENCY: CFA franc PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Muslim 60%, Christian 22%, Traditional 18% CITIES: Yamoussoukro (political capital), 120,000 (1999 est.), Abidjan (economic capital), 2,793,000 (1999 est.); Bouaké, Man, Gaghoa, Grand-Bassam, Bingerville ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 50–94 in. (1,270–2,413 mm) on the coast to 50–60 in. (1,270–1,542 […]