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  • Published: 18 April 2024
  • ISBN: 9780753560150
  • Imprint: Virgin Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 544

An African History of Africa

From the Dawn of Humanity to Independence

Zeinab Badawi, award-winning broadcaster and President of SOAS, tells an epic story of the oldest inhabited continent in the world from an African perspective, for fans of William Dalrymple, David Olusoga and Peter Frankopan.

*A Radio 4 Book of the Week*
Selected as a book to look out for in 2024 by the Guardian and The Rest is Politics

Everyone is originally from Africa, and this book is therefore for everyone.

For too long, Africa’s history has been dominated by western narratives of slavery and colonialism, or simply ignored. Now, Zeinab Badawi sets the record straight.

In this fascinating book, Badawi guides us through Africa’s spectacular history – from the very origins of our species, through ancient civilisations and medieval empires with remarkable queens and kings, to the miseries of conquest and the elation of independence. Visiting more than thirty African countries to interview countless historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and local storytellers, she unearths buried histories from across the continent and gives Africa its rightful place in our global story.

The result is a gripping new account of Africa: an epic, sweeping history of the oldest inhabited continent on the planet, told through the voices of Africans themselves.

  • Published: 18 April 2024
  • ISBN: 9780753560150
  • Imprint: Virgin Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 544

About the author

Zeinab Badawi

Zeinab Badawi is an award-winning broadcaster, journalist, filmmaker and President of SOAS London University and is an honorary fellow of her alma mater St Hilda's College Oxford University. Born in Sudan, she presented Channel 4 News for over a decade and on the BBC she has interviewed some of the world's most notable personalities and politicians on World News Today, HARDtalk and Global Questions. She is a Patron of the United Nations Association UK, a board member of the Arts, Humanities and Research Council, of MINDS, the Mandela Institute for Development Studies, the International Crisis Group and of Afrobarometer. She was previously Chair of the Royal African Society. An African History of Africa is her first book.

Praise for An African History of Africa

Both a tour d'horizon and a tour de force, marvellously readable and beautifully written. This is a book that should be read by anyone who is interested in Africa, by anyone who thinks they know all they need to know about Africa, and above all by anyone who has no interest in Africa at all. It will transform their views of the continent, its peoples and its histories. I cannot recommend it too strongly or praise it too highly

Professor Sir David Cannadine

One of the greatest strengths of this wonderful African History of Africa and what makes it so engaging is the way Zeinab Badawi narrates the great sweep of this continent’s rich history as a personal voyage of discovery, and in doing so is able to portray her feelings of the experience, be it touching humanity’s most ancient bones or venturing into the dungeons of slave castles

Dr Kevin Shillington

This is a book we have needed: a clear account of the fascinating history of Africa from an African perspective. I learned something on every page. It will leave everyone who reads it better informed and more thoughtful about the vast opportunity that can now be found in a continent we have often misunderstood

William Hague

Zeinab Badawi’s remarkable new book lives up to her dependable standards of excellence. It takes the reader on an up-close-and-personal journey across this unique continent, seemingly holding your hand while uncovering extraordinary gems of truth as she allows previously untold stories to be heard

Margaret Busby CBE

Zeinab Badawi reclaims her home continent’s past . . . Researched across more than 30 countries, it brings dazzling civilisations of pre-colonial Africa vividly to life. A book that feels long-overdue . . . and wholly worth the wait


In a world where western narratives have poorly chalked up Africa’s history to simply one of slavery and colonialism, Badawi heads out on a corrective journey. Visiting 30 of the continent’s countries and interviewing everyone from historians to anthropologists, this is an eye-opening book

i paper - Best New Books to Read in April

A refreshing corrective to narratives imposed on the continent by others . . . Ambitious in scope . . . The very act of telling African history from an African perspective and by making this history accessible to a wide audience is an assertion of dignity and an invitation to learn more . . . As Badawi puts it: "I hope I have demonstrated that Africa has a history, that it is a fundamental part of our global story, and one that is worthy of greater attention and respect than it has so far received." She most certainly has

Simukai Chigdu, Guardian

Epic, magnificent, brilliant. Zeinab Badawi's soaring African history is as majestic, thrilling and vibrant as the continent of Africa itself. A moving personal journey, an investigation into the earliest years of human life, a powerful manifesto for historical research and national memory, this genius book - bursting with stories of incredible courage and determination, from battling empires, colonial fightback, ending the slave trade and forming nations - is a tour de force and entirely unforgettable

Professor Kate Williams