History of Ancient Africa

I.     Course Prefix/Number: HIS 208

       Course Name: History of Ancient Africa

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course surveys the history of Africa to 1885. Content includes the agricultural revolution, Iron Age, migrations of peoples, commerce, early African states and stateless societies, Islam, slavery and the slave trades, European exploration and Christianity, colonial conquest and African resistance.  Course also examines the role of oral traditions, linguistic analysis, archaeological evidence and early literature in understanding the complexities of African history. IAI S2 906N

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the essential historical figures and events of the period covered.
  2. Describe the ethnic, cultural, and political diversity of ancient Africa and interpret its historical consequences.
  3. Explain the religious, social, economic, and political ideas that emerged in Africa during the period covered.
  4. Evaluate major religious, literary, and philosophical works produced during the period.
  5. Analyze the relationship between historical events and contemporary issues in the region.
  6. Evaluate conflicting interpretations of the history of ancient Africa.
  7. Analyze primary and secondary sources pertaining to the period covered.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Prehistory of Africa: the development and spread of agriculture and pastoralism.
  2. The Iron Age and Bantu migrations.
  3. Oral traditions and the myths of origin in African societies.
  4. Trans-Saharan trade and the kingdom of Ancient Ghana.
  5. North Africa and the spread of Islam into sub-Saharan Africa.
  6. Sudanic empires of Mali and Songhai
  7. Christian Ethiopia.
  8. The Swahili coast to the sixteenth century.
  9. Later Iron Age states in central and southern Africa.
  10. The Atlantic slave trade and West Africa to the eighteenth century.
  11. Africa and the world economy.
  12. European exploration and missionary activity.
  13. The “Scramble” for Africa, colonial conquest and African resistance movements.
  14. Early colonial rule.

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Classes will include a variety of instructional methods such as: lectures, in class discussions, group activities, document and film analysis, and the use of new technologies.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will be required to:

  1. Read a standard textbook, selected literature, and primary source materials.
  2. Write outside of class the equivalent of 12-14 double-spaced typed pages, in the form of a term paper, weekly journals, short research papers, and/or other kinds of writing.
  3. Participate in in-class and out-of-class activities.
  4. Engage in a group research project that will examine some aspects of race, ethnic, class, or gender inequality in South African history. The project will include both a written and oral presentation.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

The most current editions of the following texts are being used:

  • Kevin Shillington.  The History of Africa (Palgrave Macmillan, 1995.)
  • Toyin Falola.  Africa: African History Before 1885 (Carolina Academic Press, 2000.)
  • D.T. Niane.  Sundiata : An Epic of Old Mali (Longman, 1995.)
  • Philip D. Curtin.  Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade (Waveland Press, 1997.)
  • Constance B. Hilliard.  The Intellectual Traditions of Pre-Colonial Africa (McGraw-Hill, September 1, 1997.)
  • Graham Connah.  African Civilizations : An Archaeological Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2001.)
  • Thomas Mofolo.  Chaka (Heinemann Educational Books, Inc., 1981.)
  • J.B. Peires.  The Dead Will Arise: Nongqawuse and the Great Xhosa Cattle-Killing Movement of 1856-1857. (James Currey, 1989.)

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

At least two exams will be given in addition to other required papers and assignments.

XI.   Other Course Information

Support Services: Tutoring in History is available at the Learning Center. However, if you are experiencing any problems with the materials we are covering in class, I would prefer that you make an appointment to see me in my office.  General Academic Support Services: If you find you have troubles reading the textbook material, if you don't do a very good job of taking notes or exams, or if writing is a struggle for you, you can get help at the Academic Assistance Center. (There's one located on each campus).

Important Dates: *

XX/XX: Last day to withdraw and have course dropped from record
XX/XX: Last day to change to Audit
XX/XX: Last day for students to submit materials to make up incomplete from the previous semester
XX/XX: Last day to withdraw from classes with a "W"

*These dates differ for each semester. You'll find the correct dates on the Academic Calendar.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.