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A bedstead market in Addis Ababa, the capital of what was then Abyssinia, in 1930 A bedstead market in Addis Ababa, the capital of what was then Abyssinia, Jan. 1, 1930 (AP photo).

Africa and Africans Were Central to the Making of the Modern World

Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021

Almost everything about the conventional narrative of the history of Europe’s Age of Exploration and Empire is wrong, particularly where it concerns the role of Africa and Africans. Africa was a central focus of the early period of European exploration in the late 15th century and continued to be central to the plantation economies established in the European colonies of the Americas. And without the labor of enslaved Africans, none of those economies would have been as profitable, or as transformational, as they were.

Howard French joined WPR’s Judah Grunstein this week on Trend Lines to discuss his fifth and latest book, “Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War,” which restores Africa and Africans to their proper place of centrality in the history of Europe’s rise to global dominance. Howard French is a career foreign correspondent and global affairs writer, a member of the board of the Columbia Journalism Review and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School. His website is howardwfrench.com, his Twitter handle is @hofrench, and his weekly WPR column appears every Wednesday. ...

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