Africa’s Armies traces the military history of sub-Saharan Africa from the pre-colonial era to the present. Robert Edgerton begins this sweeping chronicle by describing the role of African armies in pre-colonial times, when armed forces or militias were essential to the maintenance and prosperity of their societies. During the colonial era, African soldiers fought with death-defying courage, earning such respect as warriors that they were often recruited into the colonial armies not simply to enforce colonial rule in Africa, but to fight for the European homelands as well. After independence swept through Africa, African military men seized political power in country after country, ruling dictatorially for their own benefit and for that of their kinsmen and cronies. The author describes the post-colonial civil wars that have devastated much of sub-Saharan Africa — catastrophes marked by genocide, famine, disease, economic collapse, and steadily declining life expectancy. He closes by describing the role that Africa’s military forces can and must play if the future is to bring better times to the continent’s many peoples.
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