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The Exploitation of East Africa, 1856-1890: The Slave Trade and the Scramble

Length: 499 pages6 hours


Originally published in 1939, this broad history of East Africa, down to its partition in 1885-1990, forms the third volume in Reginald Coupland’s study of East Africa in the nineteenth century, following on from Kirk on the Zambesi (1928) and East Africa and Its Invaders (1938).

This latest instalment is divided into two parts: the first describes the overthrow of the slave trade based on Zanzibar. The second, and longer, part is concerned again with the Invaders of East Africa—the Europeans who divided the country up into spheres of influence, protectorates, and colonies for themselves.

Though Kirk no longer appears in the title of the book, he is its leading figure, working patiently, and in the end victoriously, to compass the destruction of the slave trade; then working, no less patiently but this time without success, for a British protectorate over the Sultanate of Zanzibar and the whole of East Africa.

“Coupland shows us very plainly that in this instance [exploitation] was often accompanied by well-directed and constructive idealism. It remained his firm conviction that the destruction of the slave trade was an essential pre-requisite of orderly evolution in the twentieth century.”—Jack Simmons

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