The Power of African Cultures

by Toyin Falola

The Power of African Cultures

This book focuses on the modern cultures of Africa, from the consequences of the imposition of Western rule to the current struggles to define national identities in the context of neo-liberal economic policies and globalization. The book argues that it is against the backdrop of foreign influences that Africa has defined for itself notions of identity and development. African cultures have been evolving in response to change, and in other ways remain solidly rooted in a shared past. The book successfully deconstructs the last one hundred and fifty years of cultures that have been disrupted, replaced, and resurrected. The Power of African Cultures challenges many preconceived notions, such as male dominance and female submission, the supposed unity of ethnic groups, and contemporary Western stereotypes of Africans. It also shows the dynamism of African cultures to adapt to foreign imposition: even as colonial rule forced the adoption of foreign institutions and cultures, African cultures appropriated these elements. Traditions were reworked, symbols redefined, and the past situated in contemporary problems in order to accommodate the modern era.

Sources and Methods in African History: Spoken, Written, Unearthed

edited by Toyin Falola and Christian Jennings

Sources and Methods in African History: Spoken, Written, Unearthed

Sources and methods have been an ongoing concern in African history since the early years of its development as a field of academic specialization. Pioneering Africanist scholars developed the first rigorous methodologies for the use of oral tradition as history, despite prevailing doubt and skepticism from many of their colleagues. African historiography in the past two decades has been characterized by the continued branching and increasing sophistication of methodologies and areas of specialization. This volume is both a snapshot of current academic practice and an attempt to sort through some of the problems scholars face within this unfolding web of sources and methods. The book is divided into five sections: 1) archaeological contributions to historical research; 2) methodologies involved in deciphering historically accurate African ethnic identities from the records of the trans-Atlantic slave trade; 3) old documentary sources mined for new historical perspectives; 4) drawing historical data from oral tradition; and 5) innovative sources and methods for African historical research.

Pawnship, Slavery, and Colonialism in Africa

edited by Paul E. Lovejoy and Toyin Falola

Pawnship, Slavery, and Colonialism in Africa

The twenty essays in this volume explore the institution of debt bondage in Africa, in which individuals were held as collateral—usually by members of the same family—in lieu of debts that had been incurred. These essays also explore how the pressure of the international slave trade, especially along the West African coast further shaped the institution of pawnship and allowed the extension of credit into the interior of West Africa. Far from ending the practice of pawnship, European colonial rule set in motion new demands on the economies and societies of Africa, assuring the continuation of pawnship well into the Depression of the 1930s. Since the nature of pawnship was such that women and children—the most vulnerable relatives—were often offered as surety of food, money, or other goods advanced on credit, this study also contributes to a gendered analysis of work and production in Africa, demonstrating the close links between credit, servility, and gender in the history of large parts of Africa from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. The volume includes studies of pawnship along the West African coast, in Igboland, the Niger Delta, the Kingdom of Benin, Yorubaland, Asante and the Gold Coast, East Africa, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the western Sudan.

Ghana in Africa and the World: Essays in Honor of Adu Boahen

edited by Toyin Falola

Ghana in Africa and the World: Essays in Honor of Adu Boahen

Adu Boahen, the dean of Ghana's history and letters, was a leading figure in the writing of African history since the 1950s. His loud insistence that African history should be written from an African perspective has borne considerable fruits. He pioneered the production of successful textbooks on West Africa and monographs on colonial rule in Africa. His leadership in the training of many scholars in the postcolonial era is also one of his touchstones. A public intellectual who shaped West African history in dramatic and enduring ways, Adu Boahen became famous for his struggles against military regimes and for the establishment of democratic institutions in Africa. He was so committed to the inauguration of a new political system that he ran for the presidency of his country in 1992. The essays in this volume reveal the wide range of Adu Boahen's scholarship, namely, a commitment to studying precolonial history, indigenous belief systems, inter-group relations, colonialism, and the challenges facing postcolonial Africa. In this collection, Ghana becomes the window to peer into Africanist scholarship and the world thus envisioned.

Africa 5: Contemporary Africa

edited by Toyin Falola

Africa 5: Contemporary Africa

Volume 5: Contemporary Africa captures the challenges, optimism and problems that face modern Africa, notably those of economic underdevelopment and political instability. African countries have recorded varying degrees of success as they attempt to unite their peoples to build strong nations, develop their economies, and stabilize their politics. Failures have equally been recorded in a number of places, although these have not prevented the search for new solutions nor dampened the enthusiasm of Africans in liberating themselves from poverty. Among the leading issues that the volume pays attention to are: the achievements of independence, the colonial legacy, Africa's place in global affairs, economic development, political instability, and the challenges of renewal in the 21st century.