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1

Abbasids (750–1258)

one of two great caliphates during
Islam’s Golden Age; named after one of Muhammad’s
uncles; overthrew the Umayyads, the first great
caliphate

2

Abolitionists

African, European, and U.S. activists
who opposed slavery in all forms and since at least the
1500s worked to end it

3

Abolition

movement to end slavery and the transatlantic
slave trade

4

Abu Talib (?–619)

the uncle who raised Muhammad,
the Prophet of Islam

5

Abyssinia

– the ancient name for Ethiopia

6

Acropolis

in southern Africa, part of Great Zimbabwe

7

Adinkra

symbols created by the Asante to represent
concepts; Gye Nyame is the most famous

8

African slavery

bondage within African societies in
which slaves had rights to marry and raise families;
their children were often born free; they provided
functions of servitude and reproduction; see chattel
slavery

9

Leo (al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Fasi)
(1485–1554)

a Moor who in 1518 was captured
by pirates and given to Pope Leo X as a present; he
was freed by the pope and took his name at baptism;
later published Description of Africa, which described
Songhay; family name was al-Hasan ibn Muhammad
al-Wazzan al-Fasi

10

Aristotle (384–322 bce)

a Greek philosopher who
thought highly of Egypt and Abyssinia (Ethiopia)

11

Ardrah

the center of the slave trade of the Aja ethnic
group in southwestern Nigeria

12

Anokye

the priest who with Osei Tutu created the
legend of the Golden Stool and unified the Asante
ethnic group under Osei Tutu in c. 1695

13

Anglo-Asante Wars (1824–1900)

the series of five
wars between Great Britain and the Asante

14

Almoravids

northern Muslim Berbers who in 1042
invaded and conquered ancient Ghana

15

Allah

Arabic word for the one god

16

Ali (601–661)

Muhammad’s cousin, son-in-law, and
fourth caliph; revered by both Sunni and Shia Muslims

17

Al-Azhar University

a university founded in 970 in
Cairo; Al-Azhar is Sunni Islam’s most important
university in Africa and arguably the Muslim world

18

Akosombo Dam

the Ghanaian hydroelectric dam on
the Volta River that opened in 1966

19

Akan

one of three West African gold fields located in
the forest and savanna of present-day Ghana; the other
two are Bambuk and Bure; also a language group

20

Agades

city in Niger some 720 due east of Timbuktu;
also Agadez

21

Afro-Pessimists

those who believe Africa has so many
problems that the foreseeable future is grim

22

Afrocentrism

the perception of life through African
eyes inside African culture and environments

23

Afro-Asiatic

one of five major language groups of
Africa

24

Ark of the Covenant

the Old Testament belief of a
sacred Jewish wooden chest carried by poles in which
two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments are
stored

25

Bamba, Amadou (1850–1927)

– the founder of the
Murids, a Sufi order in Senegal

26

Bambuk

one of three West African gold fields; located
between the Senegal and Faleme Rivers; the other
two are Bure and Akan

27

Bantu

refers to about 535 languages in the Niger-
Congo language family that spread across Africa

eastward and southward beginning around 1000 bce;
today about 180 million Africans are Bantu speakers
at some level

28

Baobab

African trees from the genus Adansonia; major
symbol of the West African Sahel

29

Bedouins

the nomadic Arab ethnic group of the desert

30

Berbers

North African ethnic group from the Sanhaja
region that conquered ancient Ghana

31

Berlin Conference (1884–85)

the meeting of fourteen
Western powers who agreed on thirty-eight articles
to settle their trade and colonial disputes in Africa; no
Africans were present

32

Bernal, Martin Gardiner (1937–2013)

argued in Black
Athena that ancient Greek civilization was partly based
on Pharaonic Egyptian and Phoenician civilizations;
stated that Eurocentric scholars had severed that link
because of nineteenth-century notions of European
imperial supremacy and pseudoscientific racism

33

Arquebus

a forerunner of the rifle used against the
defenders of Songhay in 1590

34

Asante

a major West African ethnic group in the
southern half of present-day Ghana who participated
in the slave trade; capital is Kumasi; engaged in five
wars against the British

35

Asantehene

the title of a ruling Asante leader

36

Asiento

the asiento or transferable contract originated
in the fifteenth-century whereby the papacy awarded
Portugal the monopoly of European trade with
Africa; by 1518 the Spanish began issuing asientos to
entrepreneurs, companies, or other governments to
supply African slaves to Spanish colonies in America

37

Askia, Mohammed (?–1537)

the West African leader
of Songhay who expanded its territory, improved the
structure of government, and reformed Islam

38

Asma’u, Nana (1793–1864)

the important West
African Muslim woman, teacher, and Sufi who
provided female leadership for theSokoto Caliphate
in present-day northwest Nigeria

39

Assimilation

in French Africa the process by which
Africans adopted French culture; was a component of
direct rule

40

Biafra

the southeastern Igbo region of Nigeria that
seceded in 1967; it was forced to rejoin Nigeria in
1970 after losing the Nigerian Civil War; at least one
million Igbos lost their lives, many to starvation

41

Bilma

the famous salt source for Tuareg caravans headed
south to trade with the Hausa in northern Nigeria

42

blue nile

one of two major tributaries of the Nile
River; originates in Lake Tana, Ethiopia, and joins
the White Nile at Khartoum, Sudan

43

Bonsu, Osei (1779–1824)

– the Asantehene who in 1820
voiced his opposition to the 1807 British ban on the
Atlantic slave trade

44

Book of the Dead

Egyptian sacred literature dating from
c. 1500 bce that laid out the path to eternal afterlife
after death

45

Bori

traditional African religion led by Hausa women
during the Sokoto Caliphate

46

Brookes

the notorious slave ship whose illustrations
of decks and shackled prone slaves were used by abolitionists to generate awareness of the cruelty of
the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in general

47

Bahia, Brazil

an important region for Portuguese
plantation slavery for sugar production

48

Ayatollah

a Muslim Shia leader who rules in the place
of the “hidden” Imam until his return; means “sign of
Allah”

49

Axum

– the ancient capital of Abyssinia (Ethiopia)

50

Awdughast

a transshipment center in the Sahel on the
northern border of ancient Ghana

51

Austronesian

one of five major language groups of
Africa

52

Atlantic slave trade

the maritime trade in Africans as a
commodity to the Americas or Europe

53

Augustine of Hippo (354–430)

born in what is now
Algeria, he was the Christian church father who
advocated for the concept of predestination and
provided many of the basic ideas of modern Roman
Catholicism

54

Bure

– one of three West African gold fields located near
the upper Niger River; the other two are Bambuk and
Akan

55

Zimbabwe

the southern African country in which
Great Zimbabwe is located; means “house of stone”

56

Yoruba

the major Nigerian ethnic group that
participated in the transatlantic slave trade; created
the Oyo kingdom in southwestern Nigeria

57

Yellow fever

a viral infection transmitted by mosquito;
impeded the European conquest of tropical Africa

58

Yathrib

the city some 270 miles north of Mecca where
Muhammad and his followers migrated in 622; soon
after their arrival Yathrib was renamed Medina

59

Y chromosomal DNA

the part of DNA that showed
African men to have the oldest genetic markers; only
fathers pass this genetic code to their offspring

60

Xhosa

– the major ethnic group and language of Bantu-
speakers in South Africa

61

Wolseley, Garnet (1833–1913)

the British officer whose
forces defeated the Asante in the Anglo-Asante War
of 1874

62

Wilson, Allan (1934–91)

with Rebecca Cann and
Mark Stoneking carried out the mtDNA study in
1987 that placed human origins in Africa

63

Wilberforce, William (1759–1833)

the member of
Parliament who led the political campaign to abolish
the transatlantic slave trade; resulted in the Slave
Trade Act of 1807

64

Whydah

the major slave trading center conquered by
Dahomey in 1727

65

White Nile

one of two major tributaries of the Nile;
originates in Lake Victoria-Nyanza on the western
border of Kenya and joins the Blue Nile at Khartoum,
Sudan

66

Wangara

Bambuk sellers of gold to Ghanaian merchants
who transported it to Sijilmasa

67

Ummah

the Arabic word for the entire worldwide
Muslim community; first established at Medina

68

Timbuktu

a major embarkation port for caravans
traveling north across the Sahara Desert to Taghaza
and Sijilmasa and the site of an important school of
Islamic scholarship

69

Tools

– in the context of human origins in Africa, stones
and bones honed to achieve a sharp edge to function
in ways that extended natural human abilities;
prehistoric tools provide valuable evidence about the
lives of the humans who used them

70

Touba

the center of Murid Islam in Senegal; home of
Murid’s Great Mosque and annual pilgrimage

71

Toynbee, Arnold (1889–1975)

the British historian
who believed in the cyclic interpretation of history

72

Traditional African religion

– spiritual practices whose
rituals promote bonds with ancestors, help from
nature and spirits, and seek knowledge of the near
future; there is no sacred literature, no afterlife, no
apocalypse, and no separation between the spiritual
and secular world

73

Transatlantic slave trade

often called the Middle
Passage in which about 12.5 million enslaved Africans
were brought to the New World by Europeans as
chattel slaves for labor between the sixteenth and
nineteenth centuries

74

Transatlantic slave trade –

often called the Middle
Passage in which about 12.5 million enslaved Africans
were brought to the New World by Europeans as
chattel slaves for labor between the sixteenth and
nineteenth centuries

75

Triangular trade pattern

the transatlantic slave trade
pattern of traffic of humans and goods between
Africa, the Americas, and Europe

76

Tripoli

the northern destination of the eastern part of

the West African trans-Saharan trade from Kanem-
Bornu

77

Tuareg

the nomadic pastoralists of the Sahara; also
called Berbers

78

Umayyads (661–750)

the descendants of Muhammad’s
powerful Meccan enemies who took control of Islam
about a generation after the death of Muhammad; the
first of the two caliphates of the Golden Age of Islam;
the second was the Abbasid Caliphate

79

Tawhid

oneness of God in Islam; Islamic dogma

80

Tangier

a major port city of Morocco and the home to
Ibn Battuta

81

Tamahaq

the language of the Tuareg who often
transported goods across the Sahara between ancient
Ghana and Sijilmasa

82

Taghaza

a location of great quantities of salt deposited
during the evaporation of an ancient Saharan sea;
approximate midway point on the Timbuktu-Sijilmasa
caravan trade route

83

Swahili

an East African maritime language and culture

made up predominantly of Muslims and Bantu-
speakers; extends from southern Somalia to northern

Mozambique; means “coast” and is influenced by
Arabic; some Swahili claim an ancestral connection
to Shirazi, a city in southwestern Iran

84

Sorghum

an edible grain plant from which molasses is
derived

85

Sonni Ali (? –1492)

the founder of the Songhay empire

86

Soninke

the major ethnic group and rulers of ancient
Ghana

87

Songhay (1450–1591)

the third of three great West
African Sahelian empires; sometimes spelled Songhai

88

Sokoto Caliphate

the Muslim empire founded in the
early nineteenth century in present-day northeastern
Nigeria; created by Usman dan Fodiyo to imitate
Muhammad’s early community at Medina

89

Socrates (469–399 bce)

the Athenian teacher of Plato;
promoted ethics by engaging in dialogues described
by Plato; executed for believing in false gods and
corrupting the youth of Athens

90

Social Darwinists

those who attempted to apply
Charles Darwin’s biological ideas about the evolution
of species based on natural selection to imperial and
colonial expansion on a global scale

91

Slave Trade Act of 1807

the Parliamentary act in Great
Britain that abolished the Atlantic slave trade

92

Sunni

the largest Muslim sect containing about 85
percent of Muslims; “people of the tradition;” in
contrast to the Shi’a, who insisted that Muslim leaders
had to descend from Muhammad, Sunnis argued that
any rightly guided Muslim could be a caliph

93

Sunna

Muhammad’s actions whose guidance forms
part of Muslim law

94

Sundiata Keïta

established the West African Malinke
empire of Mali that succeeded ancient Ghana; ruled
from 1235–55; the most famous West African epic is
about Sundiata’s life and is still told today

95

Sufi

a part of the Sunni tradition that developed as a
mystical alternative to more worldly Muslim practices;
also a mystical Muslim who helps other Muslims
attain spiritual understanding

96

Sudan

the region where the Blue and White Nile
Rivers meet at Khartoum; region of northern
Nubia; contested region between French and British
imperialists; shared a border with French Equatorial
Africa

97

Stoneking, Mark (b.1956)

with Rebecca Cann and
Alan Wilson carried out the mtDNA study in 1987
that placed human origins in Africa

98

St. Domingue

a Caribbean French colony and the site
of a slave revolt in 1791

99

Sosso

the empire that brought an end to the great West
African empire of Ghana in 1203; ancient Ghana had
been in decline after its losses to the Almoravids in
1042

100

Shirazi

– the ethnic group from Persia that contributed to
the formation of the Swahili maritime network

101

Shona

the ethnic group that built Great Zimbabwe

102

Sierra Leone

the modern country which served as a
haven for slaves taken from seized slave ships and
Africans who fought for the British against the
Americans in the Revolutionary War

103

Sijilmasa

the ancient city located in southeastern
Morocco one thousand miles north of Timbuktu in
the Sahara Desert; destination via Taghaza for West
African camel caravans laden with gold, salt, and
other items

104

Slav

the word from which the word “slavery” originated;
referred to an Eastern European ethnic group

105

Slavery

the social or legal system in which people are
involuntarily held as property with no rights (Western
chattel slavery) or in which they have the somewhat
flexible status of extended family members (African
slavery); the word originated from the Muslim
enslavement of ethnic Slavs of the Black Sea region
in the 800s

106

Shia

– a minority sect in Islam followed by about 13
percent of Muslims worldwide; called followers of Ali,
who was the cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad;
the Shia claim that one has to descend directly from
Ali and Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah to lead Muslims; their defunct leaders were called Imams;
those who lead them today are called Ayatollahs

107

Reparations Movement

efforts to get Western
countries to pay African countries to account to some
extent for slavery and colonialism; also the effort to
have the U.S. pay reparations to the descendants of
African slaves in the U.S. for chattel slavery and Jim
Crow

108

Shehu

the Hausa word for “sheik” meaning ruler;
Usman dan Fodiyo was a shehu

109

queen o f sheba

the queen associated with Solomon in
the Old Testament

110

Ra (also spelled Re)

the sun god of ancient Egyptians;
sometimes identified with the Pharaoh

111

Quraysh

Muhammad’s tribe, which controlled Mecca

112

Qur’an

the sacred literature of Islam; contains God’s
revelations to Muhammad via the Archangel Gabriel
in both Mecca and Medina; divided into 114 chapters
called surahs

113

Senghor, Léopold (1906–2001)

the French-educated
Senegalese political leader and intellectual who led
Senegal to independence; advocate of négritude,
which was a Pan-Africanist anti-colonial philosophy;
opposed assimilation because of its advocacy of the
inferiority of African civilizations

114

Senegal

a former French colony in West Africa; home
of Amadou Bamba, the Murids, Cheikh Anta Diop,
and Touba

115

São Tomé and Príncipe

the equatorial islands off the
coast of Gabon where the Portuguese created an early
example of plantation slavery

116

Sáo Joáo Bautista

the Portuguese ship thought to have
transported the first African slaves to North America,
taken to Virginia’s Port Comfort colony in August
1619

117

Sanhaja Berbers

the Muslim ethnic group called the
Almoravids from the Sanhaja region of Morocco who
conquered ancient Ghana

118

San

hunter-gatherers who preceded Bantu-speakers;
absorbed or conquered by the Bantu-speakers as
they migrated southward; sometimes paired with the
Khoi-Khoi into the Khoisan grouping; mitochondrial
DNA and Y chromosomes of the San are some of the
oldest on earth; also one of five major language groups
of Africa

119

Sahel

the semi-arid transitional zone that stretches
from west to east and connects West Africa to the
Sahara Desert

120

Sahara Desert

the largest hot desert in the world,
it covers most of North Africa and measures about
3,000 miles from east to west and about 800 to 1,200
miles from north to south

121

Robinson, Ronald (1920–99)

the historian who
with Jack Gallagher argued that collaboration with
indigenous populations was the key to understanding
the success of colonialism in Africa

122

Pan-Africanism

the political and economic movement
to unite African countries to give them a voice in
world affairs; promoted in different ways since the
nineteenth century by W.E.B. Du Bois, George
Padmore, C.L.R. James, and Kwame Nkrumah,
among others

123

Pharaoh

the god-king of ancient Egypt’s dynasties;
protector of Ma’at, which symbolized truth, justice,
order, and harmony; translates as “great house” or
“palace”

124

Plato

the Athenian philosopher and
student of Socrates who used Egyptian knowledge to
create his program for education and teaching

125

Polo, Marco (1254–1324)

the Venetian traveler and
merchant who spent about twenty-four years traveling
in Asia a generation before Ibn Battuta

126

Predestination

the belief that God has chosen a few
to share heaven; those not chosen can do nothing to
enter heaven

127

Prejudice

a strong belief not based on reason

128

Ptolemaic Egypt (332–30) –

the dynasty established by
Ptolemy, which lasted for three centuries

129

Ptolemy (367–283)

Alexander the Great’s general who
took over Egypt and Palestine after Alexander’s death

130

Qadiriyya

the Sufi order of Usman dan Fodiyo and
Nana Asma’u

131

Quakers

the Protestant Christian religious group that
began the abolitionist movement in Great Britain in
the 1600s; founded the first abolitionist society in
England in 1783

132

Oyo

the powerful slave trading empire of the Yoruba ethnic group in west and north central Nigeria

133

Osiris

in Pharaonic Egypt the God-Ruler of the
underworld

134

Osei Tutu

the leader who in c. 1695 created the legend
of the Golden Stool with the priest Anokye that
united the Asante ethnic group

135

Orthodox Christians

includes Catholics, Protestants,
and Greek and Russian Orthodox who adhere to the
creed created at the Council of Nicaea in 325 that
explains the nature of Jesus and the Trinity

136

Organization of African Unity (1963–2002)

the
Africanist organization, somewhat like the UN,
created to oppose colonialism, promote human rights,
and defend sovereignty; replaced by the African Union

137

Old Kingdom (c.2686–2160 bce)

the first of three
kingdoms of Pharaonic Egypt

138

Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Chukwuemeka (1933–2011)

the military officer who led the Igbo secession of
southeastern Nigeria; leader of the Republic of Biafra
until it lost the Nigerian Civil War and reunited with
Nigeria

139

Nubia

the African civilization that shared its northern
border with southern Egypt and was influenced by
Egypt

140

Nkrumah, Kwame (1909–72)

U.S.-educated Ghanaian
and Pan-Africanist leader; organized the construction
of the Akosombo Dam; overthrown via coup in 1966

141

Nilo-Saharan

one of five major language groups of
Africa

142

Nile River

about 4,200 miles in length, the Nile is the
world’s longest river; tributaries begin in Ethiopia
and the Great Lakes region and join at Khartoum,
Sudan; flows through Egypt before emptying into the
Mediterranean Sea

143

Niger River

the major river of West Africa, which is
about 2,600 miles long

144

Niger-Congo

one of five major language groups of
Africa; includes Bantu-speakers

145

Nicene Creed

the orthodox view of the relationship
between Jesus the human and Jesus the God approved
by Christian leaders at the Council of Nicaea in 325

146

Newton, John (1725–1807)

the slave ship captain of the Greyhound in 1748; published a tract in 1788
renouncing slavery; wrote the lyrics to the hymn
“Amazing Grace”

147

New Kingdom (1550–1069 bce)

the third of three
kingdoms of Pharaonic Egypt

148

New Imperialism (1870–1914)

the European material
and religious expansion in Africa that coincided with
advances in hygiene, weapons, and medicine

149

Neo-colonialism

despite the formal end of colonial
empires, the continued sovereignty of the former
imperial rulers by other means, usually through
economic loans and policies that keep newly
independent African countries dependent on
European banks and global capitalism

150

Negus

the ancient title of kings of Abyssinia (Ethiopia)

151

Muslim

a follower of Islam; means “one who submits to
the will of God”

152

Musa (1280–1337) –

a Muslim ruler (Mansa) of Mali
noted for his hajj, piety, and generosity; financed
the construction of the Great Mosques of Gao and
Timbuktu and transcription of Qur’ans

153

murids

the followers of Amadou Bamba

154

Muqaddimah

the cyclic interpretation of world history
from a Muslim perspective written by Ibn Khaldun

155

Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative

an effort to reduce
the debt of Africa’s and the world’s poorest countries

156

muezzin

one who gives the call to prayer five times a
day in traditional Muslim societies

157

mosuqe

house of prayer for muslims

158

moor

muslim born in spain

159

Monsoons

seasonal winds and currents in the Indian
Ocean that propel dhows toward Arabia and India
from November and March then reverse to the south
and west from April to September to return dhows to
the Swahili coast

160

Monophysites

same as Coptic Christians

161

Muhammad ibn Abdallah (c.570–632)

the prophet of
Islam to whom the Qur’an was revealed

162

Muhammad al-Mahdi (c.868–c.941)

the Twelfth
and “hidden” Imam of the Shia; a descendant of
Muhammad

163

Mogadishu

an ancient seaport important to Swahili
mercantile trade; located in coastal Somalia

164

Mitochondria DNA (mtDNA)

the cellular structures
whose content proved that Khoisan women contained
the oldest genetic mutations of women on Earth; only
mothers pass this genetic code to their offspring

165

Millet

a grain plant from which cereal is made

166

Middle Passage

a portion of the journey from Africa to
the Americas that took place on transatlantic voyages

167

Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 bce)

the second of
three kingdoms of Pharaonic Egypt

168

Mercantilism

the economic system during the
sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries that sought a
positive balance of trade and the accumulation of gold
and silver as a means to strengthen a kingdom against
its opponents

169

Menelik

the Abyssinian leader who allegedly brought
the Ark of the Covenant to Axum; the ark now
supposedly resides in the Chapel of the Tablet at the
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion

170

Memphis

the capital of the Egyptian Old Kingdom on
the Nile River

171

Medina

formerly Yathrib, the city where Muhammad
and his followers sought sanctuary in 622

172

Mecca

the Arabian trading town, birthplace of
Muhammad, home to the Ka’bah, and holiest city in
Islam; pilgrimage destination

173

McCarthy, Sir Charles (1764–1824)

the British
military commander and Governor of Gold Coast
whom the Asante defeated and beheaded in 1824

174

Mbiti, John (b.1931)

the Kenyan-born Anglican
minister and writer of traditional African religion

175

Maxim Gun

an early example of a fully automatic
machine gun; invented by American-born British
engineer Sir Hiram Maxim around 1884; enabled
small colonial armies to overcome more numerous
African armies

176

masai

a language and ethnic group in southern Kenya
and northern Tanzania of East africa

177

mansa

the title for king or emperor of the medieval
West African empire of Mali

178

Lenin, Vladimir (1870–1924)

the Russian communist
revolutionary who wrote Imperialism, the Highest Stage
of Capitalism to explain how imperialism was a stage
in the development of global capitalism

179

Leo X (1475–1521)

the pope who baptized Leo
Africanus, gave him a pension, and encouraged him
to write his Description of Africa

180

Levant

the eastern part of the Mediterranean world

181

Liberia

the modern country on the western coast of
Africa that in 1822 became a haven for slaves seized
from slave ships and U.S. freed slaves; a resettlement
project was first promoted by the American
Colonization Society

182

Liberalism

Enlightenment belief that promoted
progress, liberty, and equality; contributed to the
abolitionist movement

183

Lincoln University

founded in 1854, it was the first
degree-granting historically black university in the
U.S.

184

linguistics

the study of languages; in Africa, used to
determine the origins of Bantu, the largest indigenous
language sub-group in Africa

185

Lugard, Frederick (1858–1945)

the colonial
administrator in Nigeria who articulated the idea
of the “Dual Mandate” which justified British
imperialism in terms of an exchange of African labor
and resources for British technology and civilization,
to the benefit of both sides

186

Ma’at

a concept representing truth, justice, order, and
harmony personified by the Pharaoh

187

Madeira

Portuguese islands in the Atlantic that were
early locations for the plantation slavery model

188

Malaria

a disease caused by single-celled parasites
transmitted to humans by mosquitoes; causes flu-like
symptoms that can recur; endemic in tropical Africa

189

Mali

the second great West African empire during the
thirteenth through the sixteenth centuries

190

mande

the language group of about 30 million people
spread across thirteen West African countries

191

Mandela, Nelson (1918–2013)

a Xhosa leader of
the anti-apartheid African National Congress in
South Africa; spent twenty-seven years in prison for opposing apartheid; first president of post-apartheid
South Africa; received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993

192

Lat Joor Joop (1842–86)

the anti-colonial Wolof
king (Dammel) who was killed by the French;
a contemporary of Bamba and an inspiration to Senegalese nationalists during their struggle for
independence

193

Lake Tana

the source of the Blue Nile River

194

Lake Victoria-Nyanza

the source of the White Nile
River

195

Kumasi

the capital of the Asante people; regional
capital in modern Ghana

196

Krina, Battle of (1235)

the battle in which Sundiata
defeated the conquerors of the Ghanaians, the Sosso,
and established Mali

197

kongo

the ethnic group in the vicinity of Luanda,
Angola, who provided slaves to the Portuguese to
work on sugar plantations on São Tomé and in Brazil

198

Kilwa

an ancient seaport and sultanate important to
Swahili mercantile trade; located in coastal Tanzania

199

Khoisan

the term used to describe the San and Khoi
Khoi peoples who preceded Bantu-speakers in
southern Africa; the mitochondria of the San is the
oldest on earth; also one of five major language groups
of Africa

200

Kente

Akan cloth made by Asante men; originally for
royalty

201

keitas

the clan name for the rulers of Mali

202

Kebra Nagast

sacred literature of the Coptics; also called
The Book of Kings

203

Kaw (1300)

the Mansa of Mali who may have sent a
fleet of 2,000 ships west; Mansa Musa’s predecessor

204

Katsina

a major city in the far central north of Nigeria

205

Kassonke

a language group of West Africans;
participants in the trans-Saharan gold trade during
the ancient empire of Mali

206

Kanem-Bornu

a trans-Saharan embarkation point

207

Ka’bah

a shrine of traditional religion in Mecca that
was incorporated into the Great Mosque of Mecca

208

jim crow

the name given to U.S. laws designed to deny
African Americans their civil rights

209

jihad

the struggle experienced by individual Muslims
to obey God; sometimes “holy war” against enemies
of Islam

210

Ibn al-Asi, Amr (585–664)

an early opponent of
Muhammad; later converted and conquered Egypt in
640; created Fustat, which is now part of Cairo

211

Ibn Battuta (1304–69)

the Moroccan world traveler
who visited Mali and the Swahili coast; wrote a major
travelogue called the Rihla

212

Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406)

famous Muslim historian;
teacher at Al-Azhar University; wrote the first world
history from a Muslim perspective called Muqaddimah

213

Ibn Rabah, Bilal (580–640)

former African slave
in Mecca; one of Muhammad’s first converts and
as the initial muezzin gave first call to prayer in
Medina; Bilal’s descendants allegedly established the
Mandinka clan of Keïta, from which Sundiata derives

214

Idowu, Bolaji (1913–93)

Nigerian Methodist minister
and writer on traditional African religion

215

Igbo

majority ethnic group in the region that declared
independence from Nigeria as the country Biafra

216

Imam

a descendent of Muhammad who led the Shia
until about 941 ce; also the prayer leader of a mosque

217

Imperialism

the comprehensive word associated with
empire and politics to describe the dominance or
sovereignty of one group over another

218

Imperialism: Cultural

the imposition of values,
language, and beliefs by rulers in an imperial setting

219

Indirect Rule

the British system described by Frederick
Lugard as the Dual Mandate; carried out with the
collaboration of local chiefs

220

Industrial Revolution (1760–1840)

the time period
when the West gained worldwide communications
and weapons advantages and used them to create
empires across much of the world; contributed to the
obsolescence of chattel slavery

221

islam

the world monotheistic Abrahamic religion
followed by about 40 percent of all Africans; the word
means act of submission to the will of God; about half
of West Africa’s population is Muslim

222

jajjs

itinerant female students and teachers of Nana
Asma’u

223

Hyksos

the chariot-riding warriors who conquered Lower Egypt in 1650 bce and who likely assimilated
into the Egyptian population; they brought musical
instruments, olive trees, and new breeds of cattle

224

Hulks

old ships in the Nigerian delta where Europeans
lived and carried out trade in slaves and goods

225

horus

in Egyptian religion, god of the sky, way,
and hunting; pharaohs of the Old Kingdom were
incarnations of Horus

226

Homo sapiens (200,000 bce–present)

our human genus
and species; abbreviated as h. sapiens

227

Homo erectus (1.9 million–143,000 bce)

the earliest
human genus and species; abbreviated as h. erectus

228

hominid

originally meant all human ancestors; now
sometimes also includes all great apes

229

hieorglyphs

the picture writing technique of the
Pharaonic Egyptians

230

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1770–1831)

wrote
in his Philosophy of History that Africa was not a
historical continent and showed neither change nor
development, and that its peoples were not capable of
progress or education

231

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative

an
international effort to relieve the debt of Africa’s
poorest countries

232

hausa

the largest West African Muslim ethnic group;
live across the Sahel from Ghana to Sudan

233

hashim

Muhammad’s clan within the Quraysh in
Mecca

234

hajj

the annual pilgrimage all able Muslims must make
to Mecca once in one’s lifetime

235

haiti

a Caribbean French colony and the site of slave
revolt from 1791–1804

236

hadith

Muhammad’s words whose guidance forms
part of Muslim law

237

gye nyame

the Adinkra symbol that means God’s
omnipotence or literally “except for God”; also
associated with Asante hegemony

238

guinea

a former French colony north of Sierra Leone
that achieved independence in 1958 under the
leadership of Sékou Touré, who later gave sanctuary
to Kwame Nkrumah after the Ghanaian coup of 1966

239

griots

West African oral historians who inherit their
vocations and give performances often accompanied
by drums and koras

240

great zimbabwe

literally “house of stone”; a southern
African empire contemporaneous with the West
African empire of Mali whose economy was also based on gold

241

Gowon, Yakubu (b.1934)

the general who seized
control of Nigeria and fought the Nigerian Civil War
to force Biafra back into the country

242

golden stool

the legendary symbol of the spirit of the
Asante; created by Osei Tutu and the priest Anokye
in c. 1695

243

gold coast

the European name given to pre-
independence Ghana due to the proximate Akan gold

fields

244

giza

the location of Egypt’s great pyramids built in
2600–2500 bce during the Old Kingdom’s period of
monument building

245

biggons, ann

an author who argued
in 1987 that genetic traits of Y chromosomal DNA
supported the African origins of men

246

ghana

the first of three great West African empires
(400–1100); was centered in the upper Niger River
valley between the Sahara to the north and tropical
forests on the coast; present-day Ghana took its name
from ancient Ghana

247

Garvey, Marcus (1887–1940)

an advocate for emigration
of freedmen to Liberia; promoted an “Africa for the
Africans” anti-colonial project under the auspices of
the Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation
Association

248

gao

the location of one of Africa’s Great Mosques;
capital of Songhay about 300 miles east of Timbuktu
on the east bank of the Niger River

249

gambia river

West African river about 700 miles long
that empties at Banjul, The Gambia

250

Gallagher, John (1919–80)

the British historian of
imperialism who teamed up with Ronald Robinson to
write the influential Africa and the Victorians and “The
Imperialism of Free Trade”

251

gabon

a former colony in french equatorial africa

252

Futanke

a West African language group; participants in the trans-Saharan gold trade during the ancient
empire of Mali

253

Fustat

an early Muslim city founded in 640 by Amr ibn
al-Asi; now part of Cairo

254

fula

the major ethnic group and language of West
Africa

255

French Equatorial Africa

the group of French African
colonies from the Congo River north of Central
Africa to the southern border of present-day Libya; at
its height FEA included the French Congo, Gabon,
Oubangui-Chari, Chad, and French Cameroon

256

free trade

often associated with capitalism; an economic
policy that does not restrict imports or exports in
global markets; assumes the absence of interference
from anyone not party to the transaction, especially
governments

257

freedmen

people freed from chattel slavery

258

fossils

preserved remnants of life, often bones

259

fon

the major African slave trading ethnic group in
Benin, southwest Nigeria

260

Fodiyo, Usman dan (1754–1817)

the founder of the
Sokoto Caliphate in northeastern Nigeria

261

fiqh

the regulation of religious conduct; Islamic
jurisprudence

262

fertile crescent

land that included the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers, Phoenicia, and Palestine

263

Fatimids

a Shia group who created the Fatimid
Caliphate (c.909–1171) across North Africa and the
Fertile Crescent, overthrew Sunni rule in Fustat, and
built Al-Azhar and Cairo; named themselves after
Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad

264

fatimah

a daughter of Muhammad and wife
of Ali

265

fante

an Akan ethnic group that founded city-states
along the central half of the Gold Coast; one of their
famous towns, Oguaa (Cape Coast), served as the seat
of early British power in the Gold Coast; the Fante in
the vicinity of Cape Coast Castle were sometimes in
partnership with or under the sovereignty of both the
Asante and the British

266

Falconbridge, Alexander (1760–92)

the slave ship
doctor who lobbied for abolition and wrote of the
horrors of the slave ship; participated in the Sierra
Leone settlement for freedmen

267

Divination

rituals in Traditional African Religion that
attempt to communicate with the spirit world

268

dromedaries

single-humped camels used to carry loads
in the Sahara Desert as early as the 100s ce

269

dual mandate

Frederick Lugard’s application of
indirect rule; African chiefs enforced colonial laws
in return for British protection; the British gained
access to natural resources and African labor while
the Africans acquired British products and Western
knowledge

270

ebola virus

a viral infection with more than an 80
percent mortality rate that travels through body fluids;
ravaged Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone from
2014–16

271

ebony

a hard black wood traded in Saharan caravan
commerce

272

elmina castle

the slave fortress in what is now the
coastal central region of Ghana built by the Portuguese
and later occupied by the Dutch and English; now a
UNESCO World Heritage Site

273

enlightenment

the advancement of rational thought
and human dignity in Europe during the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries; accelerated the cause of
abolitionism

274

Equiano, Olaudah

the Igbo slave and
freedman who wrote an autobiography that described
capture, African slavery, Middle Passage, chattel
slavery, life as a freedman, and the abolition movement

275

Ethnicity

the category with which people may be
identified that is based on similarities of culture,
language, and ancestry

276

eurocentricism

the perception of life through Western
eyes inside Western cultures and environments

277

Evolues

Africans who assimilated into French
civilization both in French colonies and in France

278

caliph

a spiritual successor to Muhammad, the Prophet
of Islam

279

caliphates

the Umayyid and Abbasid empires of the
Muslims

280

calvinism

the Protestant sect named for John Calvin
(1509–64); it holds that God has selected a few people
to share heaven and damned all others; this concept,
often called predestination, was first put forward by
the African Augustine of Hippo (354–430); some
European racism toward Africans has its origins in
the idea of predestination

281

canary islands

an early location for Portuguese and
Spanish plantation slavery

282

rebecca cann

with Mark Stoneking and
Alan Wilson, she carried out the mtDNA study in
1987 that placed human origins in Africa

283

cape coast castle

a major slave trading fort in the
Central Region of modern Ghana just east of Elmina;
it has the infamous “door of no return,” through
which thousands of Africans were shipped to the New
World; it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

284

capitalism

an economic system emphasizing private
ownership of the means of production and the selling
of goods for a profit

285

cataract

obstructions to navigation; on the Nile River
the first cataract is at Aswan

286

centering

the adjustment of physical, intellectual, and
spiritual characteristics to one’s environment

287

cercles

the administrative districts of a colony under
French rule

288

chad

the modern name for the former colony of French
Equatorial Africa

289

Chapel of the Tablet at the Church of Our Lady Mary
of Zion

the church in Axum, Ethiopia where the
Ark of the Covenant is allegedly stored

290

Chattel slavery

European form of economic bondage in
which humans are considered property with no rights;
see African slavery

291

thomas clarkson

the student abolitionist who in 1785 wrote an influential essay at Cambridge
University condemning slavery and later helped lead
the abolitionist movement in England and the U.S.

292

colonialism

describes subservient relationships
between imperial powers and societies in which the
dominant group remains alien

293

Convention People’s Party

the anti-colonial political
party established by Kwame Nkrumah in 1949

294

coptic christians

also called Monophysites; the
largest populations are in Egypt and Ethiopia; differ
from orthodox Christians in that they believe Jesus
had a single fully united divine and human nature, not
mixed or blended; declared heretics at the Council of
Chalcedon in 451; Coptic is also an Egyptian language

295

Council of Chalcedon

the Christian council in 451
which determined the relationship between the
human and divine natures of Jesus

296

Council of Nicaea

in 325 it determined the nature
of the Trinity and the Nicaean Creed important to
Orthodox Christians

297

cowries

shells from Persia used in West Africa for
small amounts of money and jewelry

298

Cugoano, Ottobah (1757–91)

the former slave and
abolitionist friend of Olaudah Equiano

299

Dahomey

a major center of the slave trade and a
kingdom of the Fon ethnic group

300

Davidson, Basil (1914–2010)

the first European writer
who asserted Africans had histories and civilizations

301

Denkyira

a Gold Coast ethnic group whose slave trade
contract at Elmina with the Dutch preceded that of
the Asante

302

Description of Africa

the book by Leo Africanus that
describes Songhay in the early 1500s

303

Dhow

a Swahili boat designed with a triangular sail
to transport goods along the East African coast by
taking advantage of the Indian Ocean’s currents and
seasonal winds called monsoons

304

Diop, Cheikh Anta (1923–86)

the Senegalese
Afrocentric scholar who argued that West Africans
significantly contributed to Pharaonic Egyptian
civilization