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The African Poor
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  • Page extent: 400 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.59 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521348775 | ISBN-10: 0521348773)

  • There was also a Hardback of this title but it is no longer available | Adobe eBook
  • Published December 1987

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$34.99 (G)

This is a book for all readers concerned with the future of Africa. The first history of the poor of Sub-Saharan Africa, it begins in the monasteries of thirteenth-century Ethiopia and ends in the South African resettlement sites of the 1980s. It provides a historical context for poverty in Africa--both the permanent poverty of the dispossessed and the temporary poverty of famine victims. Its thesis, modelled on the histories of poverty in Europe, is that most very poor Africans have been incapacitated for labor, bereft of support, and unable to fend for themselves in a land-rich economy. Dr. Iliffe investigates what it is like to be poor, how the poor seek to help themselves, how their families help, and how charitable and governmental institutions provide for them.


Preface; 1. The comparative history of the poor; 2. Christian Ethiopia; 3. The Islamic tradition; 4. Poverty and pastoralism; 6. Yoruba and Igbo; 7. Early European initiatives; 8. Poverty in South Africa, 1886–1948; 9. Rural poverty in colonial Africa; 10. Urban poverty in tropical Africa; 11. The care of the poor in colonial Africa; 12. Leprosy; 13. The growth of poverty in independent Africa; 14. The transformation of poverty in southern Africa; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

Prize Winner

The African Studies Association's Herskovits Award


"This tour de force could only be written by someone with a vast library at his disposal, and Iliffe has used his sources well indeed." Journal of Developing Areas

"John Iliffe has written a very important book." American Historical Review

"Iliffe provides us with a useful compilation of fascinating anecdotes and data organized by geography, chronology, religion, and ethnicity. He tells us who the poor were and what Ethiopian emperors, Christian missionaries, the King of the Kuba, and social welfare civil servants thought of the poor." Irving Leonard Markovitz, Queens College and Graduate Center of CUNY, in the American Journal of Sociology

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