Cheikh Anta Diop Reading List

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This reading list is named after Cheikh Anta Diop in recognition of the impact Cheikh Anta Diop had on the advancement of knowledge of Africans, descendants of Africans and Africans in diaspora of African history and African achievements in the context of world history.

The reason for creating this list is to provide:

  • Cultural esteem to the readers;
  • A chance to develop a love of reading. A love of reading produces future authors, inspiration for content creation (films, tv series, podcasts); and
  • An opportunity to develop enhanced critical thinking.

This reading list isn’t limited to resources written by African writers but includes non-African writers who have produced accurate African History.

1177 BC: The year civilization collapsed by Eric H. Cline

A History of Nigeria by Toyin Falola and Matthew Heaton

A History of the Yoruba People by Stephen Adebanji Akintoye

A Popular History of Benin: The Rise and Fall of a Mighty Forest Kingdom by Peter M Roese and Dmitri M Bondarenko

Accounting for Slavery Masters and Management Caitlin Rosenthal

African Kingdoms: A Guide to the Kingdoms of Songhay, Kongo, Benin, Oyo and

Dahomey c.1400 – c.1800 by Dr Toby Green

Atlantic Creoles in the Age of Revolutions by Jane Landers

Before Colour Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks by Frank M Snowden

Black and British by David Olusoga

Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann

Civilization or Barbarism An Authentic Anthropology by Cheikh Anta Diop

General History of Africa Volume I – Methodology and African Prehistory by UNESCO*

General History of Africa Volume II – Ancient civilizations of Africa by UNESCO*

General History of Africa Volume III – Africa from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century by UNESCO*

General History of Africa Volume IV – Africa from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century by UNESCO*

General History of Africa Volume V – Africa from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century by UNESCO*

General History of Africa Volume VI – Africa in the Nineteenth Century until the 1880s by UNESCO*

General History of Africa Volume VII – Africa under Colonial Domination 1880-1935 by UNESCO*

General History of Africa Volume VIII – Africa since 1935 by UNESCO*

Kiswahili : past, present, and future horizons by Rocha Chimera

Male Daughters, Female Husbands: Gender and Sex in an African Society by Ifi Amadiume

Precolonial Black Africa by Cheikh Anta Diop

Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World by Rebecca F. Kennedy

Rome in Africa by Susan Raven

Secret Cures of Slaves by Londa Schiebinger

Stolen Legacy: Greek Philosophy is Stolen Egyptian Philosophy by George J.M. James

The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality? By Cheikh Anta Diop

The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo by Cecile Fromont

The Cambridge History of Africa: From the Earliest Times to c. 500 BC. By J. Desmond Clark

The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800 by Christopher Ehret

The Crime of the Congo by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Formation of Yoruba Nation and the Challenge of Leadership Since the Pre-Colonial Era by Dr Jadesola Tai Babalola

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E Baptist

The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge by V. Y. Mudimbe

The Kaiser’s Holocaust by Casper Erichsen and David Olusoga

The Kingdom of Kush: Handbook of the Napatan-Meroitic Civilization by Laszlo Torok

The World’s War by David Olusoga

Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire: Al-Sa’dī’s Ta’rīkh al-sudān down to 1613 and Other Contemporary Documents by John O Hunwick

White Gold by Giles Milton

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the new science of the human past

by David Reich

* International Scientific Committee for the drafting of a General History of Africa

Additional recommendations

The Songhay Empire


Manuel Barcia Paz, Soldier-Slaves in the Atlantic World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

PF de Moraes Farias, Medieval Arabic Inscriptions from the Republic of Mali (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2003)

Bruce Hall, A History of Race in Muslim West Africa, 1600- 1960 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

John O. Hunwick (ed.), Sharīa in Songhay: The Replies of Al-Maghīlī to the Questions of Askia al-Hajj Muhammad (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).

John O Hunwick (ed.), Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire: Al-Sa’dī’s Ta’rīkh al-sudān down to 1613 and Other Contemporary Documents (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

M. Last, The Sokoto Caliphate

N. Levtzion, Ancient Ghana and Mali (London: Methuen, 1973)

Ghislaine Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

N. Levtzion and JFB Hopkins (eds.), Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2000)

The Kingdom of the Kongo (1400 – 1709)


D. Birmingham, Trade and Conflict in Angola: The Mbundu and their Neighbours Under the Influence of the Portuguese (1966; The Clarendon Press)

M. Candido, An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World: Benguela and its Hinterland (2013; Cambridge University Press)

R Ferreira, Cross-Cultural Trade in the Atlantic World: Angola and Brazil in the Era of the Slave Trade (2012; Cambridge University Press)

Cecile Fromont, The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo(2014; University of North Carolina Press).

R. Harms, River of wealth, river of sorrow : the central Zaire basin in the era of the slave and ivory trade, 1500-1891 (1981; Yale University Press)

L. Heywood and J. Thornton, Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles and the Birth of the Americas, 1585-1660 (2007; Cambridge University Press)

A. Hilton, The Kingdom of Kongo (1985; The Clarendon Press)

W. MacGaffey, Religion and Society in Central Africa: The BaKongo of Lower Zaire (1986; University of Chicago Press).

J. Miller, Kings and Kingsmen: early Mbundu States in Angola (1976; The Clarendon Press)

J. Miller, Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730-1830 (1988; University of Wisconsin Press)

L. Newson and S. Minchin, From Capture to Sale: The Portuguese Slave Trade to Spanish America in the Early 17th Century (2007; Brill)

J. Thornton, The Kingdom of Kongo: Civil war and Transition, 1641-1719 (1983; University of Wisconsin Press)

J. Thornton, The Kongolese Saint Anthony: Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita and the Antonian Movement, 1684-1706 (1998; Cambridge University Press)

J. Vansina, Kingdoms of the Savannah (1965; University of Wisconsin Press)


L. Heywood, ‘Slavery and its Transformation in the Kingdom of Kongo, 1491-1800’, Journal of African History 50/1, 1-22 (2009)

W. MacGaffey, ‘Lineage Structure, Marriage and the Family Amongst the Central Bantu’, Journal of African History 24/2, pp. 173-87 (1983)

W. MacGaffey, ‘Changing Representations in Central African History’, Journal of African History 46/2, pp. 189- 207, (2005)

J. Miller, ‘Capitalism and Slaving: The Financial and Commercial Organization of the Angolan Slave Trade, According to the Accounts of Antonio Coelho Guerreiro (1684-1692)’, International Journal of African Historical Studies (17), (1984)

J. Thornton and A. Mosterman, ‘A Reinterpretation of the Kongo-Portuguese War of 1622 According to New Documentary Evidence’, Journal of African History 51/2, pp. 235-48 (2010)

J. Thornton, ‘Early Kongo-Portuguese Relations: A New Interpretation’, History in Africa 8, pp. 183-204 (1981).

The Kingdoms and empires of Oyo and Dahomey, c.1608–c.1800


I. Akinjogbin, Dahomey and Its Neighbours 1708-1818 (1967; Cambridge University Press)

S. Alpern, Amazons of Black Sparta: the women warriors of Dahomey (1998; C. Hurst & Co)

N. Argenti: The intestines of the state : youth, violence, and belated histories in the Cameroon grassfields. (2007; University of Chicago Press)

E. Bay, Wives of the Leopard: gender, politics and culture in the kingdom of Dahomey (1995; University Press of Virginia)

R. Law, The Oyo Empire, c. 1600-c.1836: A West African Imperialism in the Era of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (1977; Clarendon Press).

:- The Slave Coast of West Africa 1550-1750: the impact of the Atlantic slave trade on an African society (1991; Oxford University Press)

:- Ouidah: the social history of a West African slaving ‘port’ (2004; James Currey)

P. Manning, Slavery, Colonialism and Economic Growth in Dahomey 1640-1960 (1982; Cambridge University Press)

J Cameron Monroe: The Precolonial State in West Africa: Building Power in Dahomey (2014; Cambridge University Press).

Roland Oliver, The Cambridge History of Africa. (1975; Cambridge University Press).

Roland Oliver & Anthony Atmore, Medieval Africa 1250- 1800. (2001; Cambridge University Press).


Ana Lucia Araujo (2012). “Dahomey, Portugal, and Bahia: King Adandozan and the Atlantic Slave Trade.” Slavery and Abolition 33, no. 1: 1–19.

Stephen Goddard, (Jun 1971). “Ago That became Oyo: An Essay in Yoruba Historical Geography”. The Geographical Journal (Blackwell Publishing) 137 (2): 207–211.

Robin Law (1975). “A West African Cavalry State: The Kingdom of Oyo”. The Journal of African History 16 (1): 1–15.

Robin Law (1986), ‘Dahomey and the Slave Trade: Reflections on the Historiography of the Rise of Dahomey’, Journal of African History 27/2

Robin Law (1989), ‘Slave-Raiders and Middlemen, Monopolists and Free-Traders: The Supply of Slaves for the Atlantic Trade in Dahomey c. 1715-1850,’ Journal of African History 30/1

Robin Law (1990) ,‘“The Common People Were Divided”: Monarchy, Aristocracy and Political Factionalism in the Kingdom of Whydah, 1671-1727’, International Journal of African Historical Studies 23/2

D. Ross (1982),‘The Anti-Slave Trade Theme in Dahomean History: An Examination of the Evidence’, History in Africa 9

D. Ross (1987), ‘The Dahomean Middleman System, 1727- c. 1818’, Journal of African History 28/3

D. Ross, (1989), ‘Robert Norris, Agaja, and the Dahomean Conquest of Allada and Whydah,’ History in Africa 16

The kingdom of Benin (c. 1500 – 1750)


Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Benin: Royal Arts of a West African Kingdom (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008).

RE Bradbury, Benin Studies (London: International Africa Institute, 1973)

H Ling-Roth, Great Benin: Its Customs, Art and Horrors (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968; first published 1903).

Lt-Gen Pitt-Rivers: Antique Works of Art from Benin (London: Harrison & Son, 1900)

Peter M Roese and Dmitri M Bondarenko, A Popular History of Benin: The Rise and Fall of a Mighty Forest Kingdom (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2003)

AFC Ryder, Benin and the Europeans, 1485-1897 (Harlow: Longmans, Green & Co, 1969)

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Cheikh Anta Diop Reading List

by Editorial Team time to read: 6 min