Africa and the West: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to Independence

By Klein, Martin | African Studies Review, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Africa and the West: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to Independence


Klein, Martin, African Studies Review


William H. Worger, Nancy L Clark, and Edward A. Alpers. Africa and the West: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to Independence. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press/Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001. ix + 428 pp. Illustrations. Map. Index. $85.00. Cloth.

In the age of photo-reproduced instant texts, it is unusual to find a book like this. This is an excellent collection of readings that could be useful in a variety of different courses, though probably not as a required text. It contains 111 documents and is divided into four sections, each with a general theme. It nicely incorporates South Africa in each section rather than treating it as a region apart. The first section deals with the slave trade. It contains Portuguese chronicles, explorers' accounts, royal charters, slave narratives, the court transcript of a South African revolt case, and what is probably the most widely reproduced visual document on the slave trade, the layout of the ship Brookes. Particularly valuable are lengthy excerpts from Alexander Falconbridge and Mungo Park.

The second section goes from the end of the slave trade to partition. It includes ordinances, manifestos, treaties, Cecil Rhodes's confession of faith, an interrogation of Cetshwayo on the Zulu kingdom, the Berlin Conference, and units entitled "Voices of Imperialism" and "Voices of Resistance." Section 3 on colonialism starts with Theophilus Shepstone's Native Administration Law, Roger casement on the Congo atrocities, various instructions to administrators, Nelson Mandela's "No Easy Walk to Freedom," and documents from trade union, religious, and political organizations, ending with the eloquent and painful last letter Patrice Lumumba wrote to his wife before his execution.

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