African History Project - African Boy with Musket SHORT COURSE | Department of African History

African Historiography
and Approaches to History

A powerful and comprehensive course
introducing students to the study of African history

Study the history of Africa from the inside out


Learn about how Africans and others have been collating and expressing Africa’s history for the last 600 years


Study the importance of oral traditions and oral histories to the telling of Africa’s past and current narratives


Understand the impact of the written word on African history and the revolution in African historical writing following the rise of new African intellectualism in the 19th and 20th centuries

Master the skills to write robust and authentic African histories

Develop vital critical analysis skills as you map the telling of Africa’s history form antiquity to the present day

Hone your ability to conduct research into how historians have and continue to source and document Africa’s past

Learn to write critically and confidently on African historiography and appreciate the values and challenges of various approaches to African history

Course Outline


12 Weeks | 9 Lectures | 1 Essay | 1 Exam

Module 1: What is History
Introduction to African Philosophy of History
In this exploration of the African philosophy of history, we ask what is history in the African tradition? How have Africans and their descendants conceptualised of the past and engaged with it? Through these enquiries, students will be immersed in the professional practise of history and begin to appreciate how the discipline utilises yet transcends the facts, emotions, and documents that are its building blocks.

Module 2: Why do we do History?
Introduction to the Psychology of History
Understanding why we as a specie have developed various systems through which to commemorate and remember our past is essential to developing your research practice. Set within the realm of human psychology, through the critical reading of a number of texts, students will consider how elements such as ego, esteem, curiosity and human progress fuel historical enquiry. Students will also look at the relationship between concepts such as “custom”, “tradition”, “culture” and history and how the psychological utility of these can and does motivate historical enquiry and preservation.

Module 3: How have we done History?
Introduction to African Historiography
This module provides an introduction to African historiography and is all about gaining an understanding of how the telling of Africa’s history has changed with time. Beginning with the early writings of African histories in the 14th century by Arabic scholars such as ibn Khaldun, and ending with the work of noted scholars of the Ibadan School such as Ade Ajayi and Falola, students will cover over 650 years of Africa’s oral and written record. They will trace the story of the continent and its people by tracing the development of how people have engaged with its history.

Module 4: How should we do history?
Introduction to Approaches to African History
In this exploration of various approaches to African history, students develop their practical skills as historians. Students will engage with African and African diasporic oral traditions, from the ancient griots of West Africa to the poetics of Hip Hop. Gender and the approaches of new African intellectualism are then tackled as students dive into live debates about how to document, decipher and interpret the past using new philosophical theories such as pan-Africanism and post-colonialism

African History Project

The African History Project is a specialist liberal arts school dedicated to the cultivation of Black histories. We work with historians, educators, writers, poets and artists dedicated to championing African narratives, both on the continent and in diaspora.

Drawing on these expertise, we aim to bridge the gap between advocacy and delivery, by curating educational material and delivering educational courses for those who want to understand more about Africa, her ideas, her politics, her religions and above all her people, both on the continent and in diaspora.

Course Leader

Apeike Umolu is the founder of the African History Project. She is an educator and historian with over 15 years of experience supporting students in the attainment of academic excellence.

Specialising in African history, she is a passionate historian and has undertaken historical studies at the University of Oxford. She researches extensively on West African political history and is working on her first book On Black Conciousness.

African History Project - Apeike Umolu


  1. Introduction to African Philosophy of History
  2. Introduction to the Psychology of History
  3. African Historiography (1) Oral Traditions
  4. African Historiography (2) Early Histories of Africa in Arabic
  5. African Historiography (3) European Histories of Africa
    • Early European Histories of Africa
    • Later European Histories of Africa
    • Colonialist Histories of Africa
  6. African Historiography (4) African Histories of Africa
    • National and Local Histories of the New African Intelligentsia
    • Proto-Nationalist and Anti-Colonial Histories of Africa
    • The Ibadan School
  7. Approaches to African History (1) Oral Tradition and the Black Experience
    • Oral Traditions and the Poetics of the Black Experience
    • Oral History and the Black Experience
  8. Approaches to African History (2) The Black Feminine
    • The Black Feminine: continental discourses on women’s history
    • The Black Feminine: diasporic discourses on women’s history
  9. Approaches to African History (3) New African Intellectualism
    • Pan-Africanism and Theories of “Global Blackness”
    • Post-colonialism and the Black experience

*there are three further weeks in which there will be seminars

Study Black history constructively

We teach the histories of Black peoples in their entirety, as experienced by Black peoples not solely European engagement with or interpretations of those peoples giving students an authentic understanding of Black cultures

We champion the work of Black historians and primary sources from Black historical figures including the use of oral histories, poetry, art, artefacts and music to explore Black ideas of self and community

We have a pan-African approach to the study of Black histories allowing students to explore the influence of and impact on contemporaneous global Black experiences

Online Study

Our online courses make use of digital archives and audio-visual resources to enhance the learning experience and widen access to Black historical study at the highest of levels.

Expert Tuition

Our lessons have been designed by experienced lecturers and tutors in consultation with historians to ensure that they are engaging, critical and informative.

Video Lectures

Our video lectures provide robust introductions to topics and support students as they work through readings and engage with the sources.


Students receive a certificate of completion and full transcript on successful completion of the course and are eligible for an academic reference.