(Sub-Saharan Africa)


Location: Continent of Africa south of the Sahara Desert


Rainforest: Hot, wet, - poor for farming
Deserts: Hot, dry – poor for farming.
Savannas: Grasslands – dry soil needs irrigation
Rivers: Rapids and waterfalls – Isolation.
Coastline: Smooth – poor harbors, trading difficult

Early Civilizations

Great Rift Valley

Origins of humans.  Oldest tools found

Empires: Mali, Axum, Kush, Ghana, Songhai:
    Largely subsistence agriculture;
    Controlled trade route;
for Salt led to cultural diffusion

Animism: One supreme God; spirits and forces of nature in all living and non living things; ancestor worship; influenced art.

Slave Trade

Grew with American colonies

Local wars undermined political structure

Robbed Africa of young strong and talented

Led to racism

Partition of Africa - 19th Century Imperialism


Europeans looking for raw materials and markets, National prestige.

Berlin Conference

Mercantilism:  colonies exist to benefit the mother country.

White man’s burden:

European racism:  their right and duty to conquer Africa.

Growth of Nationalism

Pan- Africanism

Africa for Africans

Led to a desire for Independence.

European colonialism provided education and common language

Independence Movements – Post WWII

Kwame Nkrumah

Ghana:Used strikes and boycotts. Gained independence in 1957. 1st African colony to gain independence.  Organized the OAU.

Jomo Kenyatta:

Kenya: led Mau Maus, terrorized colonists, 1963 won independence

Obstacles to Independence

Tribalism:  More loyalty to tribe than nation, which often followed colonial boundaries

Ties to European powers: Economic trading partners


Attempt Neutrality in Cold War

African Nations Since Independence - Economic

Subsistence farming.  Growing only enough, not enough to sell.

Cash Crops: coffee, tea, grown to sell; crop failure means disaster.

Lack of investment capital. No $$, must borrow, large foreign debt

African Nations Since Independence - Geographic

Land: 60% arid+drought = famine (Etheopia & Somalia)

Desertification: overgrazing and drought = loss of fertile land


Mineral: rich in mineral, but difficult to mine

Human: lack of skilled workers too many unskilled, little technology

Energy: little oil or coal; rich in water power but underdeveloped.

African Nations Since Independence - Political

Unstable governments

Many coup d’etas

Military dictatorships

Instability hurts economic development.

Human Rights Violations

Republic of South Africa Apartheid: legal separation; majority (70%) forced to be separate.  Whites controlled government and economy. Nelson Mandela: Leader of ANC: Jailed till 1990,1992 Apartheid ended. (Economic Sanctions)

Rwanda:  1994

Tribal wars (Hutus v. Tutsis) Millions dead or displaced.


1963 – Organization of African unity tried to eliminate dependence on outside areas and solve problems together.

Ethnic/Tribal differences have made this difficult to achieve.