Архив рубрики "Africa"
AIDS in Africa

Africa: Health Care

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE On June 1, 2001, Nkosi Johnson died from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). He was the longest living South African child born with HIV. In February, he celebrated his 12th birthday—but weighed just 27 pounds. Living with a foster mother, the child had become […]

“One-Commodity” Countries

Africa: Economic Development

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Mauwa Funidi wonders about the future of her country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as she looks around the rundown university library where she works. She has not been paid her salary of 12 dollars per month in many months. Classes at the university have been suspended because of a lack […]

Ethnic Groups of Southern Africa

Southern Africa

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE In April 2000 in Zimbabwe, armed men attacked the farmhouse of a white farmer whose family has lived in Zimbabwe for generations. A political crisis that goes back to Britain’s colonial rule caught white farmers in a violent crossfire. British colonial rule ended in 1980, but more than 4,000 white farmers in […]

Bantu Migrations, 2000 B.C.–A.D. 1000

Central Africa

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE A Congo riverboat ride from Kinshasa to Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a journey all visitors should take. The riverboat is essentially a floating village. Each barge shakes with music and dancing. In addition, the Congolese fill the riverboat with market stalls stocked with all types of food. […]

Empires of West Africa, 1050–1500

West Africa

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE A visit to Gorée Island, off the coast of Senegal, can be a moving experience. This island served as one of the busiest points for exporting slaves during the slave trade. From the mid-1500s to the mid-1800s, Europeans transported about 20 million Africans through Gorée Island. The island has a slave house, […]

Expansion of Islam, 750–1500

North Africa

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE According to legend, around 814 B.C. a Phoenician queen founded Carthage, one of the great cities of ancient Africa. She located it on a peninsula on the Gulf of Tunis. The location was ideal. The Lake of Tunis protected the rear of the peninsula from invasion. In addition, because Carthage was on […]

East African Trade, A.D. 1000

East Africa

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE East Africa is called the “cradle of humanity” because of the large number of prehistoric human remains found in the region. In 1931, Louis Leakey, an English archaeologist, began doing research in Olduvai Gorge, located in northern Tanzania. Olduvai Gorge has contained the most continuous known record of humanity. The gorge has […]

Africa: Human–Environment Interaction

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Akierou Awe lives in a mud-brick house in Nigeria’s Niger delta, a region that contains most of Nigeria’s oil. On the morning of July 10, 2000, Awe’s four sons had been collecting fuel from a leaking pipeline to help scrape out a living in this poverty-stricken region. They hoped to resell the […]

Climates of Africa

Africa: Climate and Vegetation

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE In 1352, 48-year-old Ibn Battuta, a great traveler from Morocco, set out for the empire of Mali in West Africa. His most challenging obstacle was the Sahara, a desert nearly the same size as the continental United States. Battuta and his caravan set out in February. They traveled only in early morning […]

Basins of Africa

Africa: Landforms and Resources

A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE Angola’s rebel leader Jonas Savimbi kept his forces fighting by bargaining with arms dealers and haggling with international diamond traders. Diamonds—one of the world’s most precious and valuable gems—have enriched some of Africa’s countries, including Botswana and South Africa. However, in other diamond-rich countries such as Angola, people use diamonds to fund […]

Zanzibar

Zanzibar, an island state in the Indian Ocean, lies about 30 miles off the coast of East Africa. Long an Arab stronghold, it became a British colony in the late 1800s. Zanzibar gained its independence in 1963 and the next year joined Tanganyika in forming the United Republic of TANZANIA. Geography Zanzibar consists of two main islands, Unguja (also […]

Zulu

Zulu

The Zulu, a large ethnic group in SOUTH AFRICA, are based in Natal Province on the country’s eastern coast. They speak a BANTU language closely related to that of the XHOSA. Originally one of many small societies in the region, the Zulu grew into a powerful nation in the 1800s. Traditionally the Zulu were farmers, growing millet, a kind […]

Republic of Zimbabwe

Republic of Zimbabwe

POPULATION: 15.25 million (2014) AREA: 150,803 sq. mi. (390,580 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English (official); Shona, Ndebele NATIONAL CURRENCY: Zimbabwe dollar PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Syncretic (part traditional, part Christian) 50%, Christian 25%, Traditional 24%, Other 1% CITIES: Harare (capital), 1,752,000 (2001 est.); Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Hwange, Masvingo ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 40 in. (1,020 mm) in Eastern Highlands to 15 in. (400 mm) in […]

Zara Ya’iqob

Ruled 1434–1468 Emperor of Ethiopia Zara Ya’Iqob, a powerful and intelligent Ethiopian ruler, was a devout Christian. He sometimes took strong measures to make sure that Christianity remained the dominant religion in ETHIOPIA. The son of emperor Dawit of Ethiopia, Zara Ya’iqob was educated at his father’s royal court. When his father died and his brother became emperor, Zara Ya’iqob […]

Republic of Zambia

Republic of Zambia

POPULATION: 15.72 million (2014) AREA: 290,586 sq. mi. (752,618 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English (official); Bemba, Tonga, Lozi, Lunda, Nyanja, others NATIONAL CURRENCY: Zambian kwacha PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Christian 50–75%, Hindu and Muslim 24–49%, Traditional 1% CITIES: Lusaka (capital), 1,640,000 (2001 est.); Kitwe, Ndola, Chingola, Mufulira, Luanshya, Kabwe, Livingstone ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 50 in. (1,400 mm) in the north to 20 in. (510 mm) in […]

Zambezi River

Zambezi River

The Zambezi River is the fourth longest in Africa, after the NILE, CONGO, and NIGER rivers. It runs for 1,678 miles across the southern part of the continent, from ZAMBIA through ANGOLA, NAMIBIA, BOTSWANA, ZIMBABWE, and MOZAMBIQUE before emptying into the Indian Ocean. Along the river’s course are many distinctive natural and human-made features. For 354 miles from its source […]

Yoruba

Yoruba

The term Yoruba refers to several western African peoples, including the Ife, Ibadan, and Egba. Europeans called all these groups Yoruba because they shared commons features of language, political organization, and culture. However, when referring to themselves, the Yoruba tend to use the names of their individual groups. Located mainly in southwestern NIGERIA, BÉNIN, and northern TOGO, the Yoruba number more […]

Xhosa

Xhosa

The Xhosa, an ethnic group of SOUTH AFRICA, mostly live in Eastern Cape province in the southeastern part of the country. Although some groups farther north speak Xhosa, they are not considered part of the cluster of Xhosa chiefdoms. The language of the Xhosa reveals clues about their history and their connections with other groups. It is very closely […]

Africa: Writing Systems

Writing Systems

Although there are thousands of African LANGUAGES, most of the systems used to record them originated outside the continent. A number of factors determined the writing system chosen for each language, including which system seemed to fit the language best and various social and political reasons. Types of Writing Systems There are two basic types of writing systems: logographic and […]

Africa: World Wars I and II

World Wars I and II

Although Africa did not play a significant role in either World War I or World War II, the wars had a major impact on the continent. Africans participated in fighting, and African colonies supplied the European powers with food and raw materials. A number of colonies changed hands as a result of the wars, and the wartime struggles inspired Africans […]

Women in Africa

Women in Africa

During the second half of the 1900s, the rise of women’s movements around the world brought new attention to the role of women in Africa. Long overlooked by historians and scholars, African women have begun to gain recognition for their contributions to economic and political life as well as to the home and family. Still, African women generally do not […]

Wolof

Wolof

The Wolof, a western African people, live in the nations of SENEGAL and GAMBIA, mainly in villages between the Senegal and Gambia Rivers. The Wolof number about 4 million. Their language, also called Wolof, is widely spoken in Senegal. According to tradition, individual Wolof villages combined to create an empire with its center in northwest Senegal sometime in the […]

Witchcraft and Sorcery

Witchcraft and Sorcery

Many Africans view both misfortune and spectacular success as unnatural and believe that witchcraft or sorcery causes such events. Individuals referred to as witches or sorcerers—and by various local African names—are said to use secret, magical forces to hurt other people, to bring great success to themselves, or to maintain a powerful position in society. Their activities, which are usually […]

Witbooi, Hendrik

Witbooi, Hendrik

1830–1905 Nama leader Hendrik Witbooi, chief of the Nama people, was a religious leader who fought against German rule in southern Africa. Trained as a carpenter, he became a deacon, an official of the Christian church. Witbooi was born in Pella, a region south of the Orange River, between the nations of NAMIBIA and SOUTH AFRICA. After nearly dying […]

Wildlife and Game Parks

Wildlife and Game Parks

Elephants passing in slow, stately groups, lions lazing under a tree in the noonday heat, shaggy mountain gorillas feeding in a clearing in the rain forest—these images instantly suggest Africa, which is famous around the world for the amount and variety of its wildlife. Yet the rapid growth of Africa’s human population, accompanied by the use of ever more land […]

Western Sahara

Western Sahara

POPULATION: 261,794 (2014) AREA: 97,000 sq. mi. (252,000 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Arabic (official); Berber dialects NATIONAL CURRENCY: Moroccan dirham PRINCIPAL RELIGION: Muslim CITIES: El-Aaiún (Laayoune), Cabo Bojador, Bu Craa, Smara (Semara), Ad Dakhla ANNUAL RAINFALL: Less than 2 in. (50 mm) ECONOMY: GDP per capita: N/A PRINCIPAL PRODUCTS AND EXPORTS: Agricultural: fish Manufacturing: handicrafts Mining: phosphates GOVERNMENT: Claimed and administered by Morocco since 1979, […]

West African Trading Settlements

West African Trading Settlements

Europeans began setting up trading posts on the coast of western Africa in the mid-1400s. The result was a string of European settlements from present day SENEGAL to the coast of modern NIGERIA. Centuries later these trading posts became the bases for European colonial claims in western Africa. European traders referred to sections of the coast by the main […]

Africa: Warfare

Warfare

Warfare has played a role in almost every society in human history. As societies grow larger and more complex, the nature of conflict and the motivation behind it tend to change. In Africa, where warfare once consisted of quick raids made by small bands of people, these changes are evident. Modern African nations have permanent professional armies backed by powerful […]

Vodun

Vodun

Vodun is a traditional religious practice of southern BÉNIN. Also known as Orisha to the YORUBA people of the region, Vodun was brought to the Americas by slaves. There, especially in Haiti, it developed into a form called voodoo. People who practice Vodun believe that their ancestors entered into agreements with several deities called the Vodun, which represent forces of […]

Verwoerd, Hendrik Frensch

Verwoerd, Hendrik Frensch

1901–1966 South African politician Hendrik Verwoerd created South Africa’s policy of racial segregation known as apartheid. As prime minister in the early 1960s, he followed racist policies that deepened the divide between whites and blacks. Born in the Netherlands, Verwoerd moved with his family to SOUTH AFRICA when he was two years old. His father, a grocer, was a […]

Van Riebeeck, Jan

Van Riebeeck, Jan

1619–1677 Dutch colonial administrator Jan Van Riebeeck was a Dutch merchant who founded Cape Colony, the first European settlement in what would later become SOUTH AFRICA. Born in the Netherlands, Van Riebeeck began traveling at an early age with his father, who worked for the Dutch East India Company. In time he, too, worked for the company, and he […]

Uthman dan Fodio

Uthman dan Fodio

1754–1817 Founder of the Sokoto Caliphate Uthman dan Fodio was an Islamic scholar and preacher who founded the Sokoto caliphate in what is now northern NIGERIA. In the 1800s Sokoto became one of the largest independent states in Africa. Born in the town of Gobir, Uthman belonged to a family of Islamic scholars. He grew up speaking Fulfulde, the language […]

United Nations in Africa

United Nations in Africa

Created after World War II, the United Nations (UN) is an international organization that promotes peace and security among member states and cooperation on economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian issues. When the UN was founded in 1945, only four African countries were independent states and members of the organization: EGYPT, ETHIOPIA, LIBERIA, and SOUTH AFRICA. By 2000 more than […]

Unions and Trade Associations

Informal worker’s unions and trade associations first appeared in Africa during the 1890s. However, organized union activity did not get underway until after World War I in the British colonies and after World War II in French colonies. Few unions arose in Portuguese territories such as ANGOLA and MOZAMBIQUE. In SOUTH AFRICA, years of rule by racist white governments led […]

Umar ibn Sa’id Tal

ca. 1794–1864 Muslim leader in West Africa A Muslim cleric, or religious leader, Umar ibn Sa’id Tal played an important role in spreading Islam across a broad area of West Africa. Through his writing, military achievements, and his role in the religious brotherhood of the Tijaniyya, he remains a prominent figure for Muslims in West Africa. Born in the […]

Uganda

The Republic of Uganda

POPULATION: 37.78 million (2014) AREA: 93,065 sq. mi. (241,038 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English (official); over 40 others including Swahili, Ganda, Nyoro, Lango, Acholi, Alur, Chiga, Kenyi, Teso, Arabic NATIONAL CURRENCY: Uganda shilling PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Christian 66%, Traditional 18%, Muslim 16% CITIES: Kampala (capital), 1,212,000 (2001 est.); Jinja, Mbale, Mbarara, Masaka, Entebbe, Gulu ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 90 in. (2,250 mm) near Lake Victoria […]

Tutuola, Amos

Tutuola, Amos

1920–1997 Nigerian writer Nigerian novelist Amos Tutuola gained fame for his retelling of traditional YORUBA myths, legends, and fables. The son of a poor farmer, Tutuola struggled to obtain an education. He gathered and sold firewood to help his father pay for his schooling. When his father died in 1939, however, the family could no longer afford Tutuola’s tuition, and […]

Tutu, Desmond Mpilo

Tutu, Desmond Mpilo

1931– South African religious leader and activist Aleader of the Anglican Church, Desmond Mpilo Tutu is best known for his tireless efforts for peace, unity, and human rights in SOUTH AFRICA. Born in Klerksdorp, he hoped to become a doctor but could not afford medical training. Instead, he became a schoolteacher and attended the University of South Africa. After graduating […]

Tunisia

The Republic of Tunisia

POPULATION: 11.00 million (2014) AREA: 63,170 sq. mi. (163,610 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Arabic (official); French; some Berber dialects NATIONAL CURRENCY: Tunisian dinar PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1% CITIES: Tunis (capital), 1,897,000 (2001 est.); Bizerte, Sousse, Sfax, Gabes ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 60 in. (1,524 mm) in the north to 8 in. (203 mm) in the Sahara region. ECONOMY: […]

Tubman, William Vacanarat Shadrach

Tubman, William Vacanarat Shadrach

1895–1971 President of Liberia Considered the man who modernized LIBERIA, William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman served as president of that nation for 27 years. Born in southeastern Liberia, Tubman was a descendant of freed American slaves who had moved to Liberia from Georgia in the 1800s. A member of Liberia’s ruling class, he received a college education and became a lawyer […]

Tuareg

Tuareg

The Tuareg are an Islamic people who dwell in and around the SAHARA DESERT. They speak Tamacheq, one of North Africa’s Berber languages. Numbering about one million people altogether, Tuareg can be found mainly in MALI and NIGER but also in BURKINA FASO, ALGERIA, and LIBYA. Descendants of the nomadic BERBERS, North Africa’s original inhabitants, the Tuareg appeared first in […]

Tshombe, Moïse Kapenda

Tshombe, Moïse Kapenda

1917–1969 Prime Minister of Democratic Republic of Congo Moïse Kapenda Tshombe was one of the first leaders of CONGO (KINSHASA). Born in Katanga province in what was then the colony of Belgian Congo, he was trained as a Methodist preacher and a teacher and later became a merchant. In 1958 he helped found the Confederation of Tribal Associations of Katanga, […]

Tribalism

Tribalism

Tribalism is identification with a particular ethnic group or “tribe.” In discussions of African politics and culture, tribalism usually appears as the opposite of NATIONALISM, devotion to the interests and culture of one’s entire country. African leaders seeking to build new nations sometimes regard tribalism as primitive, an obstacle to developing a modern national identity. Another view of tribalism, however, […]

Africa: Travel and Exploration

Travel and Exploration

Early in recorded history, people from outside Africa visited—or at least knew about—the lands on Africa’s northern coast. In ancient times kingdoms of the Middle East and southern Europe had dealings with EGYPT. Phoenicians from what is now Lebanon founded the colony of CARTHAGE (in present-day TUNISIA), the Greeks established settlements in LIBYA, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, and for […]

Transportation

Africa suffers from an overall lack of transportation facilities, and many of those that do exist are inefficient, inconvenient, unreliable, and poorly maintained. Moreover, the quality and availability of transportation varies greatly from one place to another. Methods of getting around in Africa range from jet aircraft to camels. Upgrading and expanding the transportation infrastructure is a major challenge facing most […]

Africa: Trade

Trade

Trade has always been the engine of economic growth. Individuals and communities that trade successfully with their neighbors gain wealth and power. In precolonial times, Africa’s natural riches gave it an important place in international trading networks. However, the SLAVE TRADE and European colonization profoundly disrupted the development of African economies, and the impact of these events is still felt today. […]

Africa: Tourism

Tourism

Traveling to experience places and people other than their own, tourists spend money on hotels, restaurants, tours, transportation, entertainment, visits to museums and historic sites, and souvenirs. The business of providing those goods and services, the tourism industry, accounts for a significant part of the incomes of some African countries. History Tourism in Africa began in the 1800s, when […]

Touré, Sékou

Touré, Sékou

ca. 1922–1984 First president of Guinea Aleader of the INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT in GUINEA, Sékou Touré became the first president of the newly independent Republic of Guinea in 1958. Born to a modest Muslim family in upper Guinea, Touré had little education. However, he had natural talent as a speaker and leader and he acquired some Islamic learning. After practicing […]

Touré, Samori

Touré, Samori

ca. 1830–1900 Ruler in Guinea Samori Touré built a state that stretched far across the savannas of what is now the Republic of GUINEA and defended his kingdom for many years against French colonization. Touré was born along the upper Milo River in the highlands of Guinea. The valley of the Milo was an important long-distance trade route that […]

Tombalbaye, François-Ngarta

1918–1975 President of Chad The first president of CHAD, François-Ngarta Tombalbaye promoted the interests of Christian groups in southern Chad at the expense of Muslims in the north. Born in southern Chad and educated by Protestant missionaries, Tombalbaye became a school teacher. However, his interests eventually turned to politics, and in 1946 he helped create the Chad Progressive Party. He […]

The Republic of Togo

The Republic of Togo

POPULATION: 7.115 million (2014) AREA: 21,930 sq. mi. (56,790 sq. km) LANGUAGES: French (official), Ewe, Mina, Kabye, Dagomba, Komkomba NATIONAL CURRENCY: CFA franc PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Traditional 70%, Christian 20%, Muslim 10% CITIES: Lomé (capital), 513,000 (1990 est.); Sokodé Palimé, Atakpamé, Bassari, Tsévié, Anécho ANNUAL RAINFALL: Ranges from 40 in. (1,020 mm) in the north to 70 in. (1,780 mm) in the south. ECONOMY: […]

Tippu Tip

Tippu Tip

ca. 1837–1905 Arab trader and ruler Hamed bin Muhammed el-Murjebi, known as Tippu Tip, was an Arab trader on the CONGO RIVER who established a powerful empire during the late 1800s. Working as an ivory merchant between the east coast and Lake Tanganyika, Tippu Tip gradually built up a military force and gained control of the Upper Congo region. […]

Tinubu, Madame

Tinubu, Madame

1805–1887 Nigerian merchant Madame Tinubu was a Nigerian woman who flourished as both a trader and a politician. Her people rewarded her services with the title iyalode, the highest honor a woman could receive, and she has become a legend. Tinubu spent her life in towns on the southwestern Nigerian coast that traded with Europeans. Born in Abeokuta, she […]

Timbuktu

Timbuktu

Located near the NIGER RIVER in northern MALI, the town of Timbuktu rose to greatness as a center of trade in the 1300s. It was a stop on the caravan routes that crossed the SAHARA DESERT, and river traffic linked it with regions to the southeast and southwest. Culturally, Timbuktu was a point of connection between Islamic North Africa […]

Thuku, Harry

Thuku, Harry

1895–1970 Kenyan political leader Harry Thuku led a nationalist group in KENYA that opposed the land and labor policies of the British colonial government. Born into a poor family in northern Kenya, he attended a missionary school. At the age of 16, he traveled to NAIROBI, where he worked as a messenger before being jailed on minor charges. After […]

Africa : Theater

Theater

Theater in Africa takes many different forms and comes from diverse roots. Indigenous customs, such as storytelling, ritual, dance, and masquerades, are the oldest types of theater on the continent. In North Africa and other areas dominated by Islamic culture, theater often includes reciting popular tales and acting out religious stories, such as the deaths of the grandsons of the […]

Téwodros

Téwodros

ca. 1820–1868 Emperor of Ethiopia Considered the first modern ruler of ETHIOPIA, Téwodros set out to reunite his country, then a cluster of warring states. Born to noble parents and originally named Kasa, he was educated at Christian monasteries. He became a bandit in the early 1840s, and in 1852 he launched a military campaign against feudal chiefs throughout […]

United Republic of Tanzania

United Republic of Tanzania

POPULATION: 51.82 million (2014) AREA: 364,928 sq. mi. (945,166 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Swahili and English (both official); Chagga, Gogo, Ha, Haya, Luo, Maasai, others NATIONAL CURRENCY: Tanzanian shilling PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Christian 45%, Muslim 35%, Traditional 20% CITIES: Dar es Salaam (capital), 2,347,000 (2001 est.); Dodoma (to be new capital) 1,238,000 (1999 est.); Zanzibar City, Tanga, Mwanza, Arusha, Morogoro ANNUAL RAINFALL: 30–100 in. (770–2,570 mm), […]

Tafawa Balewa, Abubakar

Tafawa Balewa, Abubakar

1912–1966 Prime Minister of Nigeria The first prime minister of NIGERIA, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa helped keep a newly independent Nigeria united in the early 1960s despite serious ethnic and regional differences. A HAUSA born in northern Nigeria, Abubakar became a schoolmaster in 1933 and published a prizewinning novel the next year. However, politics was his true calling. In 1946 Abubakar […]

Taboo and Sin

Sin and taboo are two ways of regulating behavior that are used by African religions and African social systems. A sin is a wicked act that breaks the laws of a deity or deities. It is also a deliberate act—the sinner knows that he or she is committing a sin. Taboo is a type of social rule that must […]

Kingdom of Swaziland

Kingdom of Swaziland

POPULATION: 1.269 million (2014) AREA: 6,704 sq. mi. (17,364 sq. km) LANGUAGES: siSwati and English (both official); Zulu, Afrikaans NATIONAL CURRENCY: Lilangeni (plural: Emalangeni) PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Christian 60%, Traditional 40% CITIES: Mbabane (administrative capital), 47,000 (1990 est.); Lobamba (legislative capital), 30,000 (1988); Manzini, Mhlambanyati, Tshaneni, Bunya, Goedgegun ANNUAL RAINFALL: 35–90 in. (900–2,300 mm) throughout most of country ECONOMY: GDP $4.413 billion (2014) PRINCIPAL […]

Swahili

Swahili

The Swahili people live in towns and villages along a 1,000-mile stretch of the East African coastline, from SOMALIA to MOZAMBIQUE. Many also live on ZANZIBAR, Pemba, and the COMORO ISLANDS off the coast. The name Swahili, an Arabic term meaning “people of the coast,” was given to them by Arabs who conquered the region in the early 1700s. However, […]

Susenyos

Susenyos

ca. 1580–ca. 1632 Emperor of Ethiopia One of the most powerful emperors of ETHIOPIA, Susenyos attempted to change the Ethiopian Church. Soon after taking the throne in 1607, Susenyos decided that, for political and religious reasons, Ethiopia should accept the authority of the Catholic Church in Rome rather than the Coptic Church in ALEXANDRIA in Egypt. A Jesuit missionary, Pedro […]

Sunni Ali

Sunni Ali

1464–1492 Ruler of Songhai Sunni Ali was a member of the Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled the Songhai Empire of western Africa in the 1300s and 1400s. Known for his immense energy and leadership skills, he expanded the borders of the empire. By the time Sunni Ali came to power, the Songhai kingdom had lost much of its influence […]

Sundjata Keïta

Sundjata Keïta

ca. 1205–1255 Founder of the Empire of Mali Abrilliant military leader and skilled administrator, Sundjata Keïta founded the empire of MALI, one of the great SUDANIC EMPIRES OF WESTERN AFRICA. Under his rule Mali adopted various laws and customs that are still followed by the people of the region. Born in the west African city of Dakajala, Sundjata was […]

Sufism

Sufism

Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, has had a profound influence on the beliefs and practices of Muslims in Africa. Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula first brought Islam to Africa in the A.D. 600s. By the early 1200s various orders, or schools, of sufism had emerged in North Africa, based on the teachings of influential religious leaders. Sufism reached […]

Suez Canal

Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway in EGYPT that links the Mediterranean and the Red Seas. Cut across the Isthmus of Suez, a strip of land connecting Africa and western Asia, the canal made it possible for ships to travel from Europe to Asia and back without sailing all the way around Africa. The Suez Canal was not […]

Sudanic Empires of Western Africa

Sudanic Empires of Western Africa

The Sudanic empires of Western Africa were a group of powerful states that developed south of the SAHARA DESERT between the A.D 700s and 1500s. The most prominent of these states were GHANA, MALI, and Songhai. The Arabs called the whole stretch of land south of the desert bilad al-sudan (“the land of the blacks”). Thus the term “Sudan” came […]

Republic of the Sudan

Republic of the Sudan

POPULATION: 39.35 million (2014) AREA: 967,244 sq. mi. (2,505,813 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Arabic (official); Nubian, Ta Bedawie, English, dialects of Sudanic and Nilotic languages NATIONAL CURRENCY: Sudanese pound PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Sunni Muslim 70%, Animist 25%, Christian 5% CITIES: Khartoum (capital), 2,731,000 (2001 est.); Port Sudan, Wad Medani, El Obeid, Atbara, Juba, Malakal, Renk ANNUAL RAINFALL: From 5 in. (130 mm) in the central […]

Stanley, Henry Morton

Stanley, Henry Morton

1841–1904 British explorer and author Henry Morton Stanley made several extensive journeys in Africa in the second half of the 1900s. The books he wrote about his adventures were widely read. Stanley was born John Rowlands in Wales, where he grew up in an orphanage. In 1859 he traveled to the United States and changed his name to that […]

Sports and Recreation

Sports and Recreation

Sraditional African cultures valued play and recreation. Africans enjoyed board games and took part in organized activities such as wrestling, dancing, and canoe racing. When Europeans introduced Western sports during the colonial era, Africans found aspects of those sports familiar. Since then Africans have incorporated Western sports into their cultures, won prizes in international sports competitions, and continued to enjoy traditional […]

Spirit Possession

Spirit Possession

In spirit possession, nonhuman forces or entities are believed to enter a person’s body and affect his or her actions. Western cultures usually view possession as a sign of madness or evil. But in Africa, spirit possession is considered a form of communication between people and spirits that has important religious, social, and political meaning. Although it is believed that […]

Soyinka, Wole

Soyinka, Wole

1934– Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka is a noted Nigerian writer and political activist. He was born in Ijebu-Isara in western NIGERIA, the son of a schoolteacher. After studying at a university in the city of Ibadan, he traveled to England, where he attended the University of Leeds and earned a degree in English literature. In 1957 Soyinka moved to […]

Southern Africa, History

Southern Africa, History

The arrival of Europeans in southern Africa in the 1600s set in motion a long period of upheaval that transformed the region. A series of violent conflicts pitted Dutch settlers against indigenous peoples, the Dutch against the British, the British against indigenous peoples, and various African groups against each other. After white settlers discovered gold and diamonds in the 1800s, […]

Republic of South Africa

Republic of South Africa

POPULATION: 54.00 million (2014) AREA: 471,008 sq. mi. (1,219,912 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English, Afrikaans, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu (all are official) NATIONAL CURRENCY: Rand PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Christian 68%, Traditional and animistic 28.5%, Muslim 2%, Hindu 1.5% CITIES: Pretoria (administrative capital), 1,508,000 (2001 est.); Cape Town (legislative capital), 2,993,000 (2001 est.); Bloemfontein (judicial capital), 300,150 (1991 est.); Johannesburg ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies […]

The Somali Democratic Republic

The Somali Democratic Republic

POPULATION: 10.52 million (2014) AREA: 246,000 sq. mi. (637,660 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Somali (official); Arabic, Italian, English NATIONAL CURRENCY: Somali shilling PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Sunni Muslim CITIES: Mogadishu (capital), 1,219,000 (2001 est.); Hargeisa, Kismayu Merca, Berbera, Boosaaso, Borama, Giamama ANNUAL RAINFALL: Less than 3 in. (77 mm) overall, but up to 20 in. (550 mm) on high ground ECONOMY: GDP $5.707 billion (2014) PRINCIPAL […]

Sobhuza I

Sobhuza I and II

Kings of Swaziland Sobhuza I (ca. 1780–1839) founded the Swazi kingdom of southwest Africa by uniting various Nguni-speaking clans in southern SWAZILAND. To accomplish this, he used techniques of persuasion that included arranging alliances through marriage and granting titles and choice lands to neighboring chiefs. Sobhuza then moved his people into central Swaziland, defeating rival clans and expanding his holdings […]

Smuts, Jan Christiaan

Smuts, Jan Christiaan

1870–1950 Prime Minister of South Africa Jan Christiaan Smuts spent most of his life trying to unify SOUTH AFRICA, first as a soldier and later as a politician. The son of Afrikaners, South Africans of Dutch ancestry, Smuts lived in Cape Colony before studying law at Cambridge University. After returning to South Africa, he fought on the side of the […]

Slavery

Slavery

Slavery involves treating human beings as property that people can own. In the past, when slavery was legal or customary in many places, some slaves were granted certain rights and privileges. However, no slave ever had true liberty or freedom, and the institution of slavery rested on force or the threat of force that could be used against the enslaved. […]

Slave Trade

Slave Trade

Throughout history SLAVERY has been a feature of many societies in all parts of the world, including Africa. Some Africans were enslaved within their own homelands. Far more, however, were carried off as slaves to other parts of Africa or around the world through the slave trade. The slave trade was a type of commerce in which enslaved humans were […]

Republic of Sierra Leone

Republic of Sierra Leone

POPULATION: 6.316 million (2014) AREA: 27,699 sq. mi. (71,740 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English (official); Krio, Temne, Mende, Limba NATIONAL CURRENCY: Leone PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Muslim 60%, Traditional 30%, Christian 10% CITIES: Freetown (capital), 669,000 (1990 est.); Bo, Koindu, Kenema, Makeni ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 200 in. (5,000 mm) on the coast to 85 in. (2,160 mm) in the north. ECONOMY: GDP $4.838 billion (2014) […]

Shona

Shona

The Shona are a cluster of peoples who have lived for about 2,000 years in the Zimbabwean Plateau, a region of southern Africa that includes most of ZIMBABWE and part of MOZAMBIQUE. The Shona divide themselves into clans that are associated with particular chiefdoms and areas. Although most Shona identify with a clan rather than with the Shona group as […]

Shembe, Isaiah

Shembe, Isaiah

1870–1935 South African church leader Isaiah Shembe was a ZULU prophet who founded his own church in the early 1900s. As a young man Shembe experienced a dramatic conversion that led him to give up worldly things and become a wandering preacher and healer. He joined the African Baptist Church in 1906 and eventually became an ordained minister. However, […]

Shaka Zulu

Shaka Zulu

ca. 1790–1828 Ruler of the Zulu Shaka Zulu founded the Zulu kingdom, which once controlled sections of present-day South Africa. In 1816 Shaka succeeded his father as ruler of the Zulu, a small ethnic group in southern Africa. Shaka soon expanded his chiefdom. He created a fierce army, providing his troops with long-bladed spears that were ideal for stabbing […]

Shaaban Robert

Shaaban Robert

1909–1962 Tanzanian poet and writer Sheikh Shaaban Robert is regarded as one of the greatest poets and writers in the SWAHILI language. He developed a new style of Swahili writing that combined traditional storytelling with the techniques of modern poems and novels. He also introduced the essay into Swahili literature. Born near the port city of Tanga in Tanganyika […]

Seychelles

Republic of Seychelles

POPULATION: 91,530 (2014) AREA: 175 sq. mi. (454 sq. km) LANGUAGES: English and French (both official); creole NATIONAL CURRENCY: Seychelles rupee PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Roman Catholic 90%, Anglican 8%, other 2% CAPITAL CITY: Victoria, 25,000 (1993 est.); Main islands: Mahé, Praslin, La Digue ANNUAL RAINFALL: On Mahé varies from 90 in. (2,300 mm) at sea level to 140 in. (3,560 mm) on mountain slopes. […]

Senghor, Léopold Sédar

Senghor, Léopold Sédar

1906–2001 President of Senegal Léopold Sédar Senghor was both a successful poet and a major political figure. Born in French West Africa (now SENEGAL), Senghor studied to become a Catholic priest. However, he was forced to leave the seminary because he protested against racism. In 1928 he traveled to France to study. He hoped to become recognized as a […]

Senegal

Republic of Senegal

POPULATION: 14.67 million (2014) AREA: 75,749 sq. mi. (196,190 sq. km) LANGUAGES: French (official); Wolof, Malinke, Fulani, Pulaar NATIONAL CURRENCY: CFA Franc PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Muslim 92%, Traditional 6%, Christian 2% CITIES: Dakar (capital), 2,079,000 (2001 est.); Kaolack, Thiès, Saint-Louis, Zinguinchor ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 12–20 in. (300–500 mm) in north to 40–60 in. (1,000–1,500 mm) in south. ECONOMY: GDP $15.66 billion (2014) […]

Sembène, Ousmane

Sembène, Ousmane

1923–2007 Senegalese author and film director Ousmane Sembène is widely regarded as the father of African CINEMA. Born in SENEGAL, Sembène served in the French army during World War II. He returned to his homeland briefly and took part in a railway strike in 1947–1948. He went back to France and, over the next several years, traveled to Denmark, Russia, […]

Secret Societies

Secret Societies

The English term “secret societies” refers to a wide range of traditional cults in Africa. Members of these groups possess secret knowledge gained through participation in rituals. Belonging to a secret society gives its members power in the community. During the colonial era, Europeans in Africa viewed secret societies with alarm. They felt threatened by the involvement of these […]

Schreiner, Olive

Schreiner, Olive

1855–1920 South African writer Olive Schreiner wrote various works of social criticism and fiction, including South Africa’s first important novel, The Story of an African Farm (1883). Her books combine vivid descriptions of life in South Africa, criticism of British colonialism, and support for women’s rights and racial equality. Schreiner was born in Wittebergen, SOUTH AFRICA, where her German father […]

Sarbah, John Mensah

Sarbah, John Mensah

1864–1910 Ghanaian politician John Mensah Sarbah was the leading African politician in the Gold Coast (modern-day GHANA) in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Born into a wealthy family, Sarbah went to England to study law. At the age of 23, he returned to the Gold Coast to set up a legal practice. He became known for defending the […]

Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe

Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe

POPULATION: 186,300 (2014) AREA: 372 sq. mi. (964 sq. km) LANGUAGES: Portuguese (official); Fang, Kriolu NATIONAL CURRENCY: Dobra PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Roman Catholic (89.5%), Evangelical Protestant, Seventh-Day Adventist CITIES: São Tomé (capital), 43,000 (1993 est.); Trindade, Santana, Neves, Porto Alegre, Santo Antonio ANNUAL RAINFALL: Varies from 40 in. (1,000 mm) in northern lowlands to 150–200 in. (3,800–5,000 mm) in highlands. ECONOMY: GDP $337.4 million (2014) […]

Samba, Chéri

Samba, Chéri

1956– Congolese painter Chéri Samba is one of the first modern African painters to receiveinternational recognition for his work. His paintings explore how relations between Africans and Europeans have influenced the way Africans view themselves. Samba has described himself as an explorer of modern Africa and the West. According to some art critics, the main subject of his paintings […]

Saint Helena

Saint Helena

The British colonial territory of Saint Helena consists of three small volcanic islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean—Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha, and Ascension. Saint Helena, the largest of the three, lies 1,150 miles west of ANGOLA. Tristan da Cunha is about 2,500 miles to the southwest, and Ascension is 700 miles northwest of Saint Helena. Jamestown, a small port […]

Sa’id ibn Sultan

Sa’id ibn Sultan

1791–1856 Sultan of Zanzibar Sa’id ibn Sultan reigned as sultan of Oman and Muscat in the Middle East for some 50 years. During this time he extended his sultanate from Arabia to the east coast of Africa, establishing one of the great trading empires in the region. Sa’id was the son of the lord of Muscat, who was […]

Sahel

Sahel

The Sahel is a narrow semi-desert region of western Africa. Its name comes from the Arabic word for “shore” or “border,” and it is the southern border of the SAHARA DESERT. The Sahel forms a zone of transition between the desert, which extends across the northern part of the continent, and the forests and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa. Its […]

Sahara Desert

Sahara Desert

Stretching across northern Africa from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Red Sea in the east, the Sahara is the world’s largest desert. It forms a natural barrier between two very different geographic and cultural regions: NORTH AFRICA, with its Arab-influenced Mediterranean culture; and sub-Saharan Africa, where indigenous African culture is dominant. Yet for centuries people have […]

Sadat, Anwar

Sadat, Anwar

1918–1981 Egyptian president The presidency of Anwar al-Sadat was shaped largely by the way he conducted Egypt’s relationship with Israel. Sadat won the admiration of Arabs for his war against Israel and then earned international praise for making peace with Israel. Born in an Egyptian village, Sadat attended school in CAIRO and then joined the army. Dedicated to the […]

Republic of Rwanda

Republic of Rwanda

POPULATION: 11.34 million (2014) AREA: 10,169 sq. mi. (26,338 sq. km) LANGUAGES: French, Kinyarwanda, English (all official); Kiswahili NATIONAL CURRENCY: Rwanda franc PRINCIPAL RELIGIONS: Roman Catholic 65%, Traditional 25%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 1% CITIES: Kigali (capital), 234,500 (1993 est.); Butare, Gikongoro, Gisenyi, Bitarama, Nyanza, Ruamagana ANNUAL RAINFALL: 70 in. (1,770 mm) in the west, 30 in. (760 mm) in the northeast and east ECONOMY: […]