The African Poor

A History

The African Poor

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.


"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


The African Studies Association's Herskovits Award

No references available.