This groundbreaking work was the first aiming to present the entire history of the African continent, cradle of humanity. The collection sheds light on the precolonial era and interweaves Africa’s destiny with the rest of humanity’s, examining its interaction with other continents and the role of Africans in the dialogue between civilizations.
“General History of Africa” opens with the beginning of the human race, and follows its evolution, with early forms of agriculture and artistic expression soon appearing (Volume I). In the northern civilizations, Egyptian and Ethiopian, as well as those to the South, particularly the Indian Ocean islands, ancient Africa reveals its riches and its construction, from Neolithic times to the seventh century of the Christian era (Volume II). Around the first millennium, the continent is marked primarily by the birth and dissemination of Islam in the north and Bantu expansion in the south (Volume III).
From the 12th to the 16th century, Africa experiences the spread of Islam, increasing international exchanges particularly with Europe, and the founding of great empires and regional kingdoms, notably Mali, Songhay and Almohades (Volume IV). Between the 16th and the 18th century, African kingdoms decline and disappear, traditional societies are transformed, and Europeans establish the slave trade (Volume V).
Then, until around 1880, exchanges with the rest of the world intensify, the slave trade is abolished, and new states and organizations emerge in the midst of an economic transformation (Volume VI). At the end of the 19th Century, the continent is profoundly changed by European colonization which gives rise to African nationalism and the anticolonial movements that follow (Volume VII). Finally, at the end of World War II, contemporary Africa emerges from a difficult decolonization process, the apprenticeship of independence, and a new economic and political life (Volume VIII).