A History of Genocide in Africa

by Timothy J. Stapleton


From Namibia to Darfur, most genocides or alleged genocides in modern history have taken place in post-colonial Africa.

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Cover image for A History of Genocide in Africa

April 2017


Pages 268
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/Conflict
  Military History/Genocide and War Crimes

Based on a series of detailed case studies, this book presents the history of genocide in Africa within the specific context of African history, examining conflicts in countries such as Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Rwanda, and Sudan.

Why has Africa been the subject of so many accusations related to genocide? Indeed, the number of such allegations related to Africa has increased dramatically over the past 15 years. Popular racist mythology might suggest that Africans belong to "tribes" that are inherently antagonistic towards each other and therefore engage in "tribal warfare" which cannot be rationally explained. This concept is wrong, as Timothy J. Stapleton explains in A History of Genocide in Africa: the many conflicts that have plagued post-colonial Africa have had very logical explanations, and very few of these instances of African warring can be said to have resulted in genocide.

Authored by an expert historian of Africa, this book examines the history of six African countries—Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Nigeria—in which the language of genocide has been mobilized to describe episodes of tragic mass violence. It seeks to place genocide within the context of African history, acknowledging the few instances where the international legal term genocide has been applied appropriately to episodes of mass violence in African history and identifying the many other cases where it has not and instead the term has been used in a cynical manipulation to gain some political advantage.

Readers will come to understand how, to a large extent, genocide accusations related to post-colonial Africa have often served to prolong wars and cause greater loss of life. The book also clarifies how in areas of Africa where genocides have actually occurred, there appears to have been a common history of the imposition of racial ideologies and hierarchies during the colonial era—which when combined with other factors such as the local geography, demography, religion, and/or economics, resulted in tragic and appalling outcomes.


  • Provides an unprecedented comprehensive history of genocide in Africa that will serve students of history, war and society, and genocide as well as general readers
  • Covers Africa's most infamous genocides as well as lesser-known cases of large scale atrocities
  • Addresses events that are contested as genocides in Africa in recent history, including the Nigerian Civil War as well as events in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Examines the historical context for each of these events to clearly explain how they occurred
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Written by subject experts and well-known researchers, the books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, first responders, economists, journalists, civil servants, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth reflections, thorough analysis, and international perspectives that are unavailable in mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students and researchers as well as anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

Timothy J. Stapleton is professor of history at the University of Calgary. He has authored numerous books on African history, including the three-volume set A Military History of Africa and Warfare and Tracking in Africa, 1952–1990.



"Historian Stapleton has done a considerable amount of work on African wars and military histories. This new book consolidates his towering stature on this important subject. . . . Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries."Choice

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Other Titles of Interest

A Military History of Africa cover imageThe Lord's Resistance Army cover imageAn Oral and Documentary History of the Darfur Genocide cover image
War Crimes, Genocide, and the Law cover imageGlobal Security Watch—Sudan cover imageThe Psychology of Genocide, Massacres, and Extreme Violence cover image

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