The African Poor: A History

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Dec 25, 1987 - History - 387 pages
This history of the poor of Sub-Saharan Africa begins in the monasteries of thirteenth-century Ethiopia and ends in the South African resettlement sites of the 1980s. Its thesis, derived from histories of poverty in Europe, is that most very poor Africans have been individuals incapacitated for labour, bereft of support, and unable to fend for themselves in a land-rich economy. There has emerged the distinct poverty of those excluded from access to productive resources. Natural disaster brought widespread destitution, but as a cause of mass mortality it was almost eliminated in the colonial era, to return to those areas where drought has been compounded by administrative breakdown. Professor Iliffe investigates what it was like to be poor, how the poor sought to help themselves, how their counterparts in other continents live. The poor live as people, rather than merely parading as statistics. Famines have alerted the world to African poverty, but the problem itself is ancient. Its prevailing forms will not be understood until those of earlier periods are revealed and trends of change are identified. This is a book for all concerned with the future of Africa, as well as for students of poverty elsewhere.
 

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Contents

The comparative history of the poor
1
Christian Ethiopia
9
The Islamic tradition
30
Poverty and power
48
Poverty and pastoralism
65
Yoruba and Igbo
82
Early European initiatives
95
Poverty in South Africa 18861948
114
Urban poverty in tropical Africa
164
The care of the poor in colonial Africa
193
Leprosy
214
The growth of poverty in independent Africa
230
The transformation of poverty in southern Africa
260
Notes
278
Bibliography
356
Index
377

Rural poverty in colonial Africa
143

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