Book: People of Africa
Author: Edith A. How

People of Africa By Edith A. How

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 38
Publication Date: 1921

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With 6 illustrations. This slim volume, published in 1921, was intended to introduce African children to other peoples of their continent.

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In this book we are going to read about some of the other people who live in our own great country—Africa. Africa is very, very large, so big that no one would be able to go to all the places in it. But different people have been to different parts, and have told what they saw where they went. Wherever our home in Africa may be, if we walked towards the sunrise—that is, towards the east—day after day, at last we should reach the great salt sea. Again, if we walked towards the sunset in the west, we should at last get to the sea. To the north, again, is the sea, and to the south, the sea. Whichever way we walked, at last, after many months, we should be stopped by the sea. But on our journey we should have met many different kinds of people, and have seen many different customs. In some places there would be rivers, in some mountains, in some deserts, with no trees or grass to be seen. In these, people must make their homes in many ways, and have many kinds of food and clothes. Because we live in Africa, we want to know about Africa and the people in it. They are men and women and children like ourselves, though the colour of their skins may be lighter or darker than ours, and their languages quite different. But they, too, build houses and eat food and wear some kind of dress, and it is interesting to know about their customs. So in this book we shall read about some of them and of how they live; and, to help us to understand, we shall find with each part a picture of the people we are reading about. All the time we must remember that we could get to see them for ourselves if we were strong enough to walk so far, because they are all our own brothers and sisters in Africa.

Long ago most African peoples were shut off from the other people of the world by the sea and the great sandy desert. Only the people of Egypt could meet and learn from the people of Europe and Asia. So while the Egyptians grew wise and clever, all the other Africans, south of the desert, knew nothing except what they had learnt by themselves. Then Arabs began to cross the desert to get gold and slaves from the dark-skinned Africans. These Arabs taught them a little. But, later still, Europeans began to come in great ships over the sea. These came at first like the Arabs to trade, and afterwards began to plant great fields of cotton and tobacco, which will not grow in their own lands. But they found the dark-skinned Africans were still ignorant, and afraid of people of other races. They were always fighting among themselves, and no one could settle among them until there was peace and safety. At last the European nations made agreements with the chiefs, so that now in nearly every part of Africa there is a European governor to prevent wars and fighting. Thus in North Africa the governors are sent by France, in the Congo lands by Belgium, in East Africa by England, in some other parts by Portugal. These are different European nations who send men to keep peace, and to make it possible to carry on trade. Of course, the coming of the Europeans has made great changes in the lives of the Africans. In the old times all the men were busy fighting, and often whole villages of people were killed or made slaves. Now there is no fighting, but there is more need to work than before. There are more people, and less land for each family. Europeans want workmen to help on their great fields. The Africans want many things now, which they did not know about before, and they must have money to buy them. So work for money has taken the place of fighting. Again, in some ways the Europeans, enforcing peace and making many quick ways of travel, such as good roads and bridges, have helped to weaken the power of the chiefs. Nobody likes changes to come, and the old people are always sorry when their children begin new customs; but on the whole it is good for Africans that other nations came to their country, because they have brought peace in the place of war, and safety and freedom instead of the old fear of death or slavery.