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This edition of Patrick Manning's established text includes two new chapters that discuss developments in the region since 1985, emphasising the democratisation movements of the 1980s and 1990s, the Francophone movement, and the crises in Rwanda and Burundi. Focusing on the French-speaking countries of west and central Africa, the book brings out the way in which the precolonial African heritage shaped new societies, in interaction with French and Belgian colonial rules, and with global economic and cultural forces. Three eras of change are described: the transition to colonial rule from 1880 to 1940, the transition to independent states from 1940 to 1985, and the reconfiguration of post-colonial society after 1985. The first edition of this book has been widely used in courses in African studies and African history.