Basil Davidson wrote West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850. He took it as the starting point of a successful text about the pre-colonial Africa, but he reworked on the text for the wider international readership. He offered a nice introduction about the rich societies. He explained the history of West Africa in the pre-colonial period just before 1850.
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The main themes in this book include governance, trade, and nomadic life and cultural interactions. The book highlights these themes in relation to life among West African communities such as the Ibo, the Asante, and the Yoruba before the colonial era. The theme of governance relates to the old systems of government that existed such as the Asante Kingdom. More so, the theme of trade indicates the manner in which communities in West Africa shared commodities prior to the coming of colonialists. The theme of nomadic life points toward the nature of life that most West African communities lived prior to the coming of colonialists. Last, cultural interactions are also captured in the book. Cultural interactions happened through intermarriages and even wars among communities in West Africa.
Africa has been the centre of human history. It is the continent where species emanated, where some of the past civilizations thrive and where there was dynamic, innovative cultures and complex. Cultures were confronted by a variety of political, social, and environmental challenges. Most of the Africans states and the societies were materially wealthier than the European countries counterfeits until in the 1700s and Africa always stayed connected however, tenuously at times up to the wider world. In the popular, Eurocentric historical imagination in the U.S. and Europe, there is sparse knowledge of Africa’s history, and it was rarely even considered a subject for historical study until the 1950s. For the period before European political dominion in Africa (c.1880-1960), this lack is even more pronounced (Davidson 45). This course will explore the history of Africa between the 800s and the late 1800s, while at the same time discovering the logic behind African historical developments and tracing the broader implications of Africa’s history.
The book entails a journey including the development of cross-cultural contacts and long-distance trade networks, state formation and the nature social organization, and impact of slavery and the slave trade in Africa, Africa’s place in the “first globalization” of the 1800s, and periodical issues surrounding African history as a discipline. Geographically there are dealt primarily with the regions of south of the formidable barrier of the Sahara Desert, but the desert was hardly impregnable, and the wide influence of Africa made the edges of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans increasingly important over time. No one course can cover more than a tiny sliver of the complexity and variety in Africa home today to nearly a billion people, 55 nations, and thousands of communities of language and culture (Davidson 67). Students, completing this course will be able to write about and discuss major themes in African history with contextual sensitivity and will possess the knowledge necessary to undertake further study.
More so, the book asserts that after1850 Africans were faced by a terrible nightmare in that they were raided by colonialists who overtook the land. The settlers were attacked, and the women, children and some of the men were captured and taken to a place where they worked as slaves. The colonialists managed to govern the land despite the fact that they were visitors in the area. The slaves were transported while they were in chains. Many Africans lost their land to the colonialists while others were killed for they were rebellious. The author explained how the settlers were annoyed by the colonialists, but they were not in a position to defend themselves. Some of the politicians were assassinated for the try to save the people. It was not until they formed an association that was to drive away the colonialists. They managed to fight against them and drove them away from their lands.
The author was able to achieve the goal as per the book he explained of the history and it is highly regarded in the education background. African history requires the mastery of entirely new bodies of knowledge for most students; it is significant for one not only to keep up with the reading, but to also think actively about it through writing analytically. The book was able to give a close coverage of history of Africa in the pre-colonial period. According to the book, it was not easy to give a conceiving story to the readers. The book carries many explanations to give the reader the picture during that period. He came up with the idea that Africans lived an organized an interesting life prior to the colonial era. He achieves the goal by indicating the manner in which the coming of colonialists could disrupt normal living among West African communities.
Davidson’s arguments about Africa are extremely convincing. He presents the argument in a chronological manner hence enabling readers follow each of the events effectively. The argument is convincing because it highlights the life that most individuals in West Africa led prior to the colonial era. Additionally, the argument is convincing as Davidson tried to substantiate all the key points relating to the key focus of the book. The argument is convincing as it indicates the way in which most West African societies lived before the colonial era and the manner in which they started responding to the incoming colonialists. The author makes the argument more convincing by presenting supporting views to each for of arguments presented in the boo. One would be convinced easily with the arguments presented in the book.
The book is extremely easy to read. Davidson utilizes simple vocabulary that can be understood by anyone without straining. This makes it readable at the fastest pace ever. Additionally, the book is easy to read because of the chronological manner in which points are argued. It bases on a consistent flow if events throughout hence promoting its success in the presentation of West African history before 1850. Davidson also made the book easier to read using attractive phrases in the description of particular events such as the mode of life and hunting and gathering habits of West African communities before 1850. The book is interesting, and the simple and interesting phrases employed make it even easier to read.
The book West Africa Before the Colonial Era: A History to 1850 relates closely to other class readings. The book’s content highlights similar things to those highlighted in the class readings. For instance, it points to a similar life for Africans before the colonial era. It highlights the nomadic nature of most African communities that depended on hunting and gathering of food. The book is also similar to all the other class readings in its explanation concerning the early governments among Africans before the colonial era. It highlights the kingship system that was in most African countries such as the Asante Kingdom in the present day Ghana. It compares to other books about Africa in the sense that it brings forward similar ideas relating to the life of Africans prior to the colonial era and reiterates the significance of the pre-colonial era to African communities.
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