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Global African History: Primary Documents

Primary Documents:


Listed below are major documents that help explain Global African History.

The Treaty of Berlin (1885) This treaty codified the deliberations of the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 where fourteen European nations along with Turkey and the United States agreed to the division of Africa into fifty colonies.

George Washington Williams's Open Letter to King Leopold on the Congo (1890) Historian, diplomat, and newspaper publisher George Washington Williams was sent to the Congo on a fact finding mission by the United States government.  He reported his finds publically in a letter addressed to King Leopold II, who at that time had personal congrol over the Congo.

The Uganda Agreement (1900) This agreement signed by representatives of the infant Kabaka (king) of the Buganda people and British officials established a protectorate over Uganda and began 62 years of colonial rule. 

An Appeal to the World (1947).  On October 23, 1947 W.E.B. DuBois, on behalf of the NAACP, presented this petition drafted by a group of historians and legal scholars to the United Nations.  The petition described the major grievances of African Americans against the United States including their origins in the U.S. Constitution. 

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).  In 1948 the General Assembly of the then three year old United Nations developed the first set of human rights principles that would apply to all the nations of the world.

We Charge Genocide (1951).  This document contains the first few pages of a book-length petition to the United Nations from the Civil Rights Congress charging the U.S. Government with failing to protect its African American citizens from racial violence.

The South African Freedom Charter (1955)  This charter was crafted by the more than 3,000 anti-apartheid delegates representing more than 200 organizations who met on June 25, 1955, at Kliptown, a multiracial village outside Johannesburg to protest South Africa's race laws.

Patrice Lumumba's Last Letter to His Wife, Pauline (1960)  By November 1960, Patrice Lumumba was stripped of his office in the Congolese government and placed under arrest.  Eventually President Kasavubu turned his former political rival over to Katangan Secessionist President Moise Tshombe.  His troops murdered the former Prime Minister of the Congo on January 18, 1961.  This is Lumumba's last known letter to his wife, Pauline.  It was probably written in November 1960.  

The Organization of African Unity Founding Charter (1963). On May 25, 1963 representatives of 32 African nations met to create the Organization of African Unity to serve as a collective voice for the African continent.

The Arusha Declaration (1967) On February 5, 1967 Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere announced the Arusha Declaration outlining the principles of Ujamaa which he called African Socialism.  The principles were to guide the newly independent nation rooted in the concept of self-reliance.  

Biafra's Declaration of Independence (1967) On May 30, 1967, Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria,proclaimed that region the independent nation of Biafra, touching off the three year Nigeria Civil War.

Manifesto of The South African Students' Organization (ca. 1968)  In 1968 black college students across South African organized themselves to resist apartheid.  Soon afterwards they issued a manifesto which announced their aims and objectives.

SASO Resolution on Black Theology (1971)  At its general meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1971, the South African Student's Organization, SASO, endorsed Black Theology and linked it to its campaign for liberation from Apartheid.

SASO: Black Students and the University (1972) In 1972 the South African Students' Organization published a pamphlet titled "The University--What Does it Mean to You," which outlined the relationship between students, activism against Apartheid, and South African universities.

Black Ministers and the Dutch Reformed Church: Statement on Apartheid (1973)  This document, issued following a Johannesburg, South Africa meeting, is a condemnation of Apartheid by black ministers of one of the leading church denominations in South Africa.

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996).  Although it is not the first post-Apartheid constitution in the nation, the Constitution of 1996, is the most comprehensive in establishing the rights of all of the nation's citizens. 

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