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Great Trading Routes of the Sahara
This 1889 map of trans-Saharan trading routes by French explorer Edouard Blanc reflects the growing priority that Europeans gave to land-based trade during the late 19th-century imperial “scramble for Africa.” In articles about his work, Blanc stressed the importance of identifying “natural” geographic routes that would connect French colonial possessions in west Africa, such as Senegal, to Algeria in north Africa, and link the Mediterranean coast to Sudan and central Africa. Blanc based his maps not only on his own travels but also on nearly a century of reports from ...
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Library of Congress
French Mandate for Togoland
As a consequence of World War I, Germany was stripped of its colonies and the Ottoman Empire was partitioned and forced to surrender control of territories in the Middle East. The Covenant of the League of Nations established a system under which the League conferred upon certain states a mandate to rule those former colonies which, in the language of the Covenant, were “inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world.” Britain and the British Empire, France, Belgium, and Japan ...
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United Nations Office at Geneva Library
Letter to the Warring Tribes
Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. In this work, the author, a scholar and religious leader, urges warring factions to make peace and live in peace. He supports ...
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Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library
Dahomey and the Dahomans: Being the Journals of Two Missions to the King of Dahomey, and Residence at His Capital, in the Year 1849 and 1850
Frederick E. Forbes was a British naval officer who, in 1849-50, undertook two missions to the court of the King of Dahomey in an unsuccessful attempt to convince him to end involvement in the slave trade. Dahomey was a warlike kingdom that arose most likely in the second quarter of the 17th century and came to dominate its neighbors through its army, which included both men and women and was based on strict military discipline. This two-volume work reproduces Forbes’ journal and his account of his conversations with King Gezo ...
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Library of Congress
New Journey into the Land of the Negroes, Followed by Studies on the Colony of Senegal, and Historical, Geographical, and Scientific Documents
Anne-Jean-Baptiste Raffenel (1809–58) was a French colonial official, who in 1846 was commissioned by the French navy to undertake a voyage of exploration to the interior of Africa. Raffenel left France in mid-May 1846 and returned in June 1848. Volume one of this two-volume work is an account of Raffenel’s fourth-month journey from France to Senegal and his travel throughout the colony, which included visits to many Senegalese towns and regions, such as Saint-Louis (Ndar), Bakel, Bambouk, and Makana. Raffenel described the governing structure of the colony, the ...
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Library of Congress
Chronicles of Senegalese Mauritania. Nacer Eddine
Ismaël Hamet was an interpreter and official in the service of the French army in the colony of French West Africa. His 1911 Chroniques de la Mauritanie sénégalaise (Chronicles of Senegalese Mauritania) is one of the few scholarly books about the region of the Western Sahara, and Mauritania in particular, to be published in the West before the mid-20th century. The first part of the book consists of an overview chapter on the geography, history, and social conditions of Mauritania; a chapter on the natural resources and commerce of the ...
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Library of Congress
Togo: The Hugues Le Roux Mission
Robert Charles Henri Le Roux (1860–1925), better known by his pen name of Hugues Le Roux, was a French writer and journalist who specialized in travel literature and books about the French colonies. Close to French official circles, he helped to build support in France for the idea that France had a unique civilizing mission (mission civilisatrice) in the less-developed parts of the world. In 1918–19, Le Roux produced for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs a series of small books on the French colonies in Africa, as ...
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Library of Congress
Timbuctoo the Mysterious
This book is an English translation of Tombouctou la mystérieuse, published in Paris in 1897. The author, Felix Dubois (1862–1945), was a French journalist who in 1895 traveled from Paris to Dakar, Senegal, and from there down the River Niger in what was then called French Sudan. He visited the town of Jenne, which he called the “jewel of the valley of the Niger” and from there proceeded to the ancient city of Timbuktu. Citing an old Sudanese chronicle that called Timbuktu “the meeting-place of all who travel by ...
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Library of Congress
King Bihuazin [i.e. Béhanzin] of Dahomey, and His Two Wives [Standing on Porch]: French Government Prisoner in Martinique, Fort de France
This photograph was taken in Fort de France on the French island of Martinique around 1902. It shows the former King Béhanzin (1844-1906) of Dahomey (present-day Benin), who was banished to the Caribbean territory in 1894. The Kingdom of Dahomey, with its capital at Abomey, was founded in the 17th century. French colonial expansion into west Africa in the late 19th century and French efforts to suppress the slave trade led to conflict between France and the kingdom. In 1892, the kingdom was defeated in a war with France and ...
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Library of Congress
The Gift of the Followers of the Path of Muhammad
Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. This work is about the Songhai Empire, one of the most important states in West Africa during the 14th and 15th centuries ...
Contributed by
Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library
Askiyah's Questions and al-Maghili's Answers [al-Maghili's Tract on Politics]
Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. This treatise is about the Songhai Empire, which flourished in West Africa during the 14th and 15th centuries. It consists of the ...
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Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library
Map of a Journey to Musardu, the Capital of the Western Mandingoes
In 1868, President Daniel Bashiel Warner of the Republic of Liberia sent Benjamin J.K. Anderson, a Liberian government official, into the interior of the country to negotiate a treaty with the King of Musardo. Warner’s objective was to improve ties with the peoples of the interior and to try to associate them, economically and culturally, with the coastal colonies established by immigrants from the United States. Traveling through dense forest, Anderson made careful notes about the people, customs, and natural resources of the areas through which he passed ...
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Library of Congress
The Voyage of the Sieur Le Maire, to the Canary Islands, Cape-Verde, Senegal, and Gambia
This 1745 book is an English translation of a work by Jacques-Joseph Le Maire that was first published in 1695 and recounted a voyage to West Africa and the Atlantic islands off the coast of Africa. Le Maire, a physician in the service of the Compagnie d'Afrique, describes the inhabitants, customs, and places that he visited. Le Maire’s work remains an important source for the study of 17th-century West Africa, interactions between Africans and Europeans, and aspects of the transatlantic slave trade.
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Library of Congress
Cameroon and the German Lake Chad Railway
In 1884 the explorer Gustav Nachtigal signed a treaty with the chiefs of Duala on behalf of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in which, in return for trade advantages, the chiefs accepted the establishment of a German protectorate. In 1885, the new German colony of Kamerun came into being. A number of influential Germans determined that the colony’s economic potential could be realized only through the construction of a railroad. They established a Cameroon railroad syndicate in 1900, which in 1902 obtained a concession from the German government to ...
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Library of Congress
Ghana’s Policy at Home and Abroad: Text of Speech Given in the Ghana Parliament, August 29, 1957
On March 6, 1957, Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve independence from a European colonial power. The new state was made up of the former British colony of the Gold Coast and the Trusteeship Territory of Togoland. The country’s first prime minister (and later president) was Kwame Nkrumah (1909-72), a U.S.-educated political activist who led the fight for independence from Britain. In this speech, delivered to the parliament of Ghana and circulated internationally by the country’s newly-established embassies, Nkrumah gave a progress ...
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Library of Congress
Guinea
This study of the history, geography, population, administrative structures, and economy of French Guinea was published in 1906, in conjunction with the French Colonial Exposition in Marseille. In the years before World War I, France’s global empire, second in size only to Britain’s, was nearing its peak. The exposition was intended to glorify France’s civilizing mission as well as to highlight its profitable trade with the colonies, much of which passed through the port of Marseille. Wedged between Portuguese Guinea to the north and British-controlled Sierra Leone ...
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Library of Congress
The Guinean Campaign (1908)
In this book, Luis Monteiro Nunes da Ponte (1884-?), a Portuguese army officer, civil engineer, and former civilian governor of the city of Porto, describes his military expedition of 1908 to Guinea (present-day Guinea-Bissau). Nunes da Ponte focused primarily on the regions of Bissau, Bolama, Oio, and Cuore and described the challenges likely to face Portuguese colonization in the region. Portugal claimed Guinea as early as 1446, but until the late 19th century it administered the territory as part of the Cape Verde Islands colony. Portuguese control was limited to ...
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Library of Congress
Togo under the German Flag
Germany, a latecomer to the competition among the European powers for colonies in Africa, established the Togoland Protectorate in 1884. Encompassing the territory of present-day Togo and the Volta Region District of Ghana in western Africa, Togo was portrayed by German imperial circles as a model colony, financially self-sufficient and benefiting from bridges, roads, and railroads built to support an agricultural industry based on cacao, coffee, and cotton exports. Later historians disputed this characterization, noting the often harsh treatment of the Togolese under German rule. The German authorities used scientific ...
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Library of Congress