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Winner of the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2019Shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize and the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award Astonishing staggering Ben Okri Daily TelegraphA groundbreaking new history that will transform our view of West AfricaBy the time of the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and Islamic world since around 1000 and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans along the coasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth century Until at least 1650 this was a trade of equals using a variety of currencies most importantly shells the cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and the nzimbu shells imported from BrazilToby Greens groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West Central Africa It reconstructs the world of kingdoms whose existence like those of Europe revolved around warfare taxation trade diplomacy complex religious beliefs royal display and extravagance and the production of artOver time the relationship between Africa and Europe revolved everaround the trade in slaves damaging Africas relative political and economic power as the terms of monetary exchange shifted drastically in Europes favour In spite of these growing capital imbalances longstanding contacts ensured remarkable connections between the Age of Revolution in Europe and America and the birth of a revolutionary nineteenth century in Africa A Fistful of Shells draws not just on written histories but on archival research in nine countries on art praise singers oral history archaeology letters and the authors personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of one of the worlds most important regionsWinner of the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2019Shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize and the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award Astonishing staggering Ben Okri Daily TelegraphA groundbreaking new history that will transform our view of West AfricaBythe time of the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and Islamic world since around 1000 and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans alongthecoasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth centuryUntilat least 1650 this was a trade of equals using a variety ofcurrencies most importantly shells the cowrie shells imported fromtheMaldives and the nzimbu shells imported from BrazilToby Greens groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West Central Africa It reconstructs the world of kingdoms whose existence like those of Europe revolved around warfare taxation trade diplomacy complex religious beliefs royal display and extravagance and the production of artOver time the relationship between Africa and Europe revolved everaround the trade in slaves damaging Africas relative political and economicpoweras the terms of monetary exchange shifted drastically in Europes favour In spite of these growing capital imbalances longstanding contacts ensured remarkable connections between the Age of RevolutioninEurope and America and the birth of a revolutionary nineteenthcenturyin Africa A Fistful of Shells draws not just onwrittenhistories but on archival research in nine countries on art praise singers oral history archaeology letters and the authors personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of oneofthe worlds most important regionsWinner of the Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2019Shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize and the Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award Astonishing staggering Ben Okri Daily TelegraphA groundbreaking new history that will transform our view of West AfricaBythe time of the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century Africa had already been globally connected for many centuries Its gold had fuelled the economies of Europe and Islamic world since around 1000 and its sophisticated kingdoms had traded with Europeans alongthecoasts from Senegal down to Angola since the fifteenth centuryUntilat least 1650 this was a trade of equals using a variety ofcurrencies most importantly shells the cowrie shells imported fromtheMaldives and the nzimbu shells imported from BrazilToby Greens groundbreaking new book transforms our view of West and West Central Africa It reconstructs the world of kingdoms whose existence like those of Europe revolved around warfare taxation trade diplomacy complex religious beliefs royal display and extravagance and the production of artOver time the relationship between Africa and Europe revolved everaround the trade in slaves damaging Africas relative political and economicpoweras the terms of monetary exchange shifted drastically in Europes favour In spite of these growing capital imbalances longstanding contacts ensured remarkable connections between the Age of RevolutioninEurope and America and the birth of a revolutionary nineteenthcenturyin Africa A Fistful of Shells draws not just onwrittenhistories but on archival research in nine countries on art praise singers oral history archaeology letters and the authors personal experience to create a new perspective on the history of oneofthe worlds most important regions