University of Colorado Historian Maps the Oyo Kingdom of West Africa in the Early 19th Century

Henry Lovejoy, an assistant professor of history at the University of Colorado at Boulder, recently published a study that includes the mapping of the African kingdom of Oyo, which was located in present-day southwestern Nigeria, parts of Benin and Togo.

At its peak, the Yoruba kingdom of Oyo was one of the largest and most influential West African states. It was established in roughly the 13th century, and is best known for its cavalries that would patrol the forested savannas and capture people to be sold to slave traders. An estimated 128,000 people were captured by these cavalries, enslaved and sent to the Americas — particularly Brazil and Cuba.

Dr. Lovejoy’s research produced a series of 21 maps of Africa during the early nineteenth century. Present-day maps cannot be applied to pre-colonial Africa, and what other maps do exist are inconsistent or fragmented at best. He was able to plot the creation and disappearances of towns surrounding and within the Oyo kingdom when it was at its largest and to show the coming and goings of slave ships. Using these techniques, Dr. Lovejoy was able to show the general uncertainty surrounding Africa’s internal geography at this time, including the approximate ebb and flow of Africa’s pre-colonial boundaries and the general human migrations at play due to the slave trade.

The study, “Mapping Uncertainty: The Collapse of Oyo and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, 1816–1836,” was published on the website of the Journal of Global Slavery. It may be accessed here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Protests of a Different Color: HBCUs and the Student Protest Movements Against the War in the Middle East

Student protests concerning the Israel-Hamas war have been commonplace on the campuses of elite predominantly White colleges and universities. While not receiving a lot of publicity, HBCU students have not sat on the sidelines of the protest movement.

Higher Education Gifts or Grants of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

Recent Books of Interest to African American Scholars

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. The books included are on a wide variety of subjects and present many different points of view.

Online Articles That May Be of Interest to JBHE Readers

Each week, JBHE will provide links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. Here are this week’s selections.

Featured Jobs