Over the last half century, sub-Saharan Africa has not had one history, but many - histories that have intertwined, converged and diverged. They have involved a continuing saga of decolonization and state-building, conflict, economic problems, but also progress. This new view of those histories looks in particular at the relationship between territorial, economic, political and societal structures and human agency in the complex and sometimes confusing development of an independent Africa. The story starts well before the granting of independence to Ghana in 1957, with an introductory chapter about pre-colonial societies, slavery and colonial occupation. But the thrust of the book looks at Africa in the closing decades of the old millennium and the beginning of the new millennium. While this book examines post-colonial conflicts within and between new states, it also considers the history of the peoples of Africa - their struggle for economic development in the context of harsh local environments and the economic straitjacket into which they were strapped by colonial rule is charted in detail. The importance of imposed or inherited structures, whether the global capitalist system, of which Africa is a subordinate part, or the artificial and often inappropriate state borders and political systems set up by colonial powers will be examined in the light of the exercise of agency by African peoples, political movements and leaders.
A career journalist with the BBC World Service and BBC News for three decades, specialising in Africa, Keith Somerville writes and lectures on African affairs and is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. He is the author of several books, including Radio Propaganda and the Broadcasting of Hatred.