Kenya and Africa Web Links

This is a hand-picked selection of the best web resources about Kenya, and on Africa in general, and nicely compliment the material presented in the Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya. Note that the majority of the sites listed cover Kenya and Africa in general; for links to sites concerning individual tribes or specific topics, see the corresponding pages of this website (use the search page, or view the site index). Feel free to submit your website, but I can't guarantee inclusion. Commercial sites, and even non-commercial ones that rely heavily on advertising, will not be considered unless the content is exceptional.
This page was updated in June 2007; coming up shortly are yet more links, most of them the fruit of recent research while writing the forthcoming The Rough Guide First-Time Africa. I should eventually also get around to adding a Kenyan tribes section, the links for which are currently scattered all over this website.
Particularly recommended sites are marked with
In this page:
More links
News and current affairs
Art and artists
Language and literature
Music and dance
Photos and photography
Society and culture
Religion, philosophy and mathematics
Academic institutions
Bibliographies and bookshops
Online books (ebooks, etexts)
Academic journals
Travel magazines
Travel guides

More links...

There are thousands of "Kenya Links" pages out there. Whilst I've only checked a small fraction of them, it's enough to be able to recommend any of the following:
A-Z of African Studies on the Internet A seventeen-page behemoth of links compiled by Peter Limb of Michigan State University. The alphabetical system of categorization isn't especially intuitive or useful (Kenya is near the bottom of this page), but there's so much that you certainly won't be wasting your time by sifting through the whole lot
Central Oregon Community College - Africa Links Another good collection of links, organized into nine topical pages, including general resources, timelines, arts and cultures, film, music, women, and orature/literature
D. Formenti's links: Africa-Kenya Daniele Formenti's huge collection of categorized web links to Africa and Kenya, including - to his credit - some pretty obscure ones, too, such as individual papers from online academic journals
Kenya on the Internet A selection of over 300 Kenyan websites reviewed by Stanford University. The alphabetical ordering isn't much help, but no matter - the reviews are such that reading through the entire page is really quite a pleasure
The Index on Africa A small but ever-growing categorized collection of high quality links from the Norwegian Council for Africa, including a wealth of Kenyan-related sites, with an emphasis on news - both current affairs and broader developmental and cultural issues
University of Columbia - African Studies Internet Resources Access to several dozen pages containing well-chosen, high-quality links covering all of Africa (or jump straight to the Kenya or East Africa pages). Categories include politics, development, human rights, history and cultures, literature, education, and music and dance. Unusually for link collections, this one is searchable, too
University of Pennsylvania - Africa Web Links: an Annotated Resource List A ton of categorized links across 30 pages reviewed by the university's African Studies Center, pointing both to pages within their site and to external websites. Categories include History, Human Rights, Anthropology, Arts & Architecture, Languages, Religious Studies, Environment, Travel, Music & Films and Women Issues
University of Florida Libraries - Africana Collection Loads of categories

News and current affairs

All the latest news from our favourite corner of Africa. More news sources are listed at Columbia University and at the University of Pennsylvania
BBC News - Africa The BBC's African coverage is pretty decent, if patchy at times - you should use it in conjunction with some of the other resources recommended in this section. Particularly useful, however, is the search function - perfect for collating a mass of news features about your particular subject of interest. The low graphics version loads much faster
The Daily Nation Kenya's most respected and impartial daily newspaper, available online and for free. The archive is accessible by date or through a limited keyword search, so is best used in conjunction with the IndexKenya Project
The East African The main articles and features from the week's issue of one of Africa's leading newspapers, plus an archive going back to 2001. The archive is only accessible by date
The Norwegian Council for Africa Brief summaries of the day's news with links to the full versions, plus a fully searchable back archive, and a superb free email news service - the Africa News Update - providing a more or less daily selection of articles from newspapers from around the continent An excellent news portal for the continent, collating articles from both mainstream and not so common sources, including various UN agencies. Most articles are available onsite, and the enormous archive is fully searchable
Gadonet Biting cartoon satire from "Gado", regularly published in Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper, with an enormous categorized archive to keep you chuckling away
Pambazuka News An excellent collection of categorized and searchable news articles and links to offsite articles covering all of Africa. The emphasis is on "social justice", particularly development, AIDS/HIV, environment and conservation. They publish a free weekly email newsletter
Africa Confidential Online presence of the highly respected weekly broadsheet for African current affairs; it doesn't beat about the bush when covering corruption and other political shenanigans, and is consequentially usually banned by less tolerant African leaders. A few articles are posted online, together with summaries of the main news, but for most of the content you have to take out a painfully expensive subscription (either paper or internet version)
WWW Kenya Newsgroup This discussion forum, based on current news, is lively to say the least, and has been hurtling along for years. Be warned, however: the tone can at times feel distinctly antagonistic, though that said there's usually a thread or two worth following each week
United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks - OCHA IRIN Extensive news resource concerned mainly with aid, health and development issues. They offer an email news subscription service (free); you can choose what type of news to receive and on which regions or countries, and whether daily or weekly (newsgroup) One of very few Africa-related newsgroups to have avoided a spam tsunami. Good for asking practical questions about safaris, road conditions, red tape and the like. The newsgroup appears to be widely available through local internet service providers. If you can't find it, access it through Google Groups


There's not all that much about Kenya history floating around the net, although there are a few good introductions, and a lot dedicated to Africa in general. For more suggestions, the University of Pennsylvania obliges with a collection of reviewed History links
African History on the Internet Yet another enormous collection of carefully reviewed internet resources from Stanford University, much of it to primary materials. The directory is split into 35 categorized pages, covering pretty much everything related to African history
Columbia University - History & Cultures of Africa A big bag of onward weblinks
Internet African History Sourcebook Granddaddy of all African link sites, with sites ordered by period as well as by country and region
Kenyan History Kenyaweb's treatment of Kenya's history, from the earliest times through to Independence, recounted in eleven pages. Much of the content is taken verbatim from printed sources
The Story of Africa An outstanding one-off feature over several pages from the BBC World Service, thoughtfully (and accurately) written, and accompanied by numerous photos
Retelling the Story From the US Public Broadcasting Service, a series of scholarly essays inspired by W.E.B. DuBois's call for the history of Africa to retold from the African point of view. Contains sections on myths and legends (the Ark of the Covenant at Aksum in Ethiopia), history as propaganda, Black identity in Africa (including three essays on the Swahili), slavery and the slave Trade, daily life, and African-American perspectives and Western stereotypes
African Timelines Five African timelines compiled by Central Oregon Community College. Whilst far from comprehensive, they do provide a different way of approaching the subject, and they do contain a number of interesting links. The timelines cover Ancient Africa, African Empires, the African Slave Trade & European Imperialism, Anti-Colonialism & Reconstruction, and Post-Independence Africa & Contemporary Trends
Tim and Lara Beth's Kenya Page - History A succinct one-page sweep through Kenyan history from the first millennium to the 1880s
World History Archives Very good selection of links to documents covering all aspects of African history.

Art and artists

For traditional central and western African art, there's regal banquet on offer, largely thanks to stuff stolen years ago and now displayed in European and American museums. For Kenya and East Africa, however, you'll be hard pressed to find anything. Still, have a look at following. For more links, the ever-helpful folks at Columbia University provide us with more suggestions for African Art & Archaeology, with all links fully reviewed; Central Oregon Community College has a page of African Arts & Cultures Links; and the University of Pennsylvania has another on Arts & Architecture
African Art on the Internet Another mammoth and extremely useful collection of reviewed links from Stanford University
National Museum of African Art A beautiful eye-soother, this one from the Smithsonian Institution. There's a wealth of material online, including contextual introductions about artistic diversity, imagery and uses, plus virtual tours and quick summaries of current exhibitions, all wrapped up with clever design touches that kids and adults alike should like
Tamarin - Virtual Gallery of African art Slick art-gallery website with interesting thematic exhibitions, including photography, this is another drop-dead gorgeous presentation for a small but superb virtual gallery of artwork, photographs and texts, dedicated both to tribal (traditional) and contemporary Africa, mainly central and western. The portraits of kings are uncommonly beautiful
Trust for African Rock Art Headed by photographer David Coulson, the Trust aims to protect Africa’s rock art from vandalism and from art collectors. Their website has a small but beautiful gallery, and informative newsletters to download.
African Art Museum A huge gallery of traditional artefacts.
African Art: Aesthetics and Meaning Virtual exhibition "catalogue" by Benjamin C. Ray of the University of Virginia's Bayly Art Museum; the Makonde are the only East Africans represented. You can also access the collection through this list
Between the Natural and Supernatural Extracts from Jean Kennedy's book New Currents, Ancient Rivers: Contemporary African Artists in a Generation of Change, published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1992
THE ART ROOM, Fine Arts Center for East Africa San Francisco-based website dedicated to the study and exhibition of works by principle artists of East Africa's Modern Art Movement, particularly Ugandan, with an eclectic collection of reviews, essays and illustrations. A particularly useful page is the one for essays
Guggenheim Museum - Africa Chuck shed-loads of money around and what should you get? More than this, surely. Still, it's handy for a very brief overview of African art
African Art Resources Online Links to galleries, museums, online introductions and some books
African-American Art Good links to sites concerning African and (primarily) African-American art, from the University of Long Island's B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library
Rand African Art An impressive personal collection of tribal art
Hamill Gallery of African Art Commercial gallery with thousands of items online

Language and literature

There's not an awful lot of non-academic language-related material online, as most of it is of the jargon-ridden linguistic variety. For more links, Columbia University obliges us with a couple of pages: African Language Resources, and African Literature. See also Central Oregon Community College's African Orature & Literature Links, and the University of Pennsylvania's African Languages links
African Proverbs, Sayings and Stories Apart from its searchable collection of proverbs, sayings and traditional stories, this has both a proverb of the month (with lengthy explanations, at times a tad too Christian in tone), plus a selection of weekly proverbs that you can have sent to your email address
Kamusi Project - Internet Living Swahili Dictionary The Kamusi Project of Yale University is a collaborative work aiming to establish new dictionaries of the Kiswahili language, both within Kiswahili and between Kiswahili and English. Online dictionaries are available to search, browse and download. There's also a Swahili Discussion Forum, and a selection of images from East Africa (the slide show needs Internet Explorer)
Kanga writings Dozens of sayings from the cloth kangas that Swahili women wear, with their literal translations and more expansive explanations. By Hassan Ali
Ethnologue country index - Languages of Africa Index to country-specific lists of languages; the information itself is very academic and in some cases outdated, but can't be matched for its comprehensive nature. The Kenyan page is here

Music and dance

Africa’s diversity is perhaps no better illustrated than through its musical output, which influenced much of what the Western world now considers its own. Music can also be a great theme for travelling, giving you a fine excuse to delve a little deeper beneath the surface, no matter where you're coming from. Unfortunately, there only very few websites dedicated to Kenyan music (part of the reason for having started the Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya in the first place). Nonetheless, there are a few exceptions, plus an ever-expanding number of sites covering African music in general. For more, see Columbia University's reviewed internet links for African Music & Dance, the University of Pennsylvania's Music & Films links, or Central Oregon Community College's African Music Links. Eric Charry also has this useful page.
   The following listing includes a handful of sites that have nothing to do with East Africa, but which are nonetheless recommended. In any case, those with keen ears will know that musical forms and traditions rarely respect modern-day national or even ethnic boundaries...
Music in Our World One of the most accessible introductions to music worldwide, including an excellent African section, but sadly no sound clips Rap and hip-hop from across the continent, with news, reviews, details of upcoming events, and audio streams, including two-hour webcasts of fresh talent every two months
Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya Call me cheeky, I don't care... this very site is the best for anything relating to traditional Kenya, including - as the name makes clear - music. There's also a general essay on the gradual decline of traditional Kenyan music, or ngoma ya kiasili - literally, the music of the ancestors - and, to top it all, over seven hours of traditional music to be played "live" as you browse the site (use the links on the left of the screen)
BBC Radio 3 On Location An extensive archive of radio programmes, many concerning African music.
Rhythms of the Continent A short and limited if well done and visually attractive introduction to African music from the BBC World Service, complete with sound clips. Kenya and Tanzania are represented by a good page on Swahili Taarab. Other countries covered are Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe
Echoes of Africa Yet another, very welcome offering from the BBC, this is an encyclopedic introduction to the continent’s multifaceted sounds, with many (albeit short) sound clips
African Music Archive Home of the important African traditional music archive compiled by German ethnomusicologist, Wolfgang Bender. CD recordings from the archives are available
African Music Encyclopedia This looks great, and has some useful content - especially on contemporary performers, and internet links. It could do with being updated a little more frequently, but I'm hardly one to speak...
African Music Webring Several dozen websites relating to African music, linked in a loop. Like most webrings, the quality (and interest) varies. The link above points to the first of several pages of member summaries
Afropop Worldwide A big mix of mostly modern tracks and radio streams covering the whole continent, together with excellent features articles and gig reviews.
NTAMA - Journal of African Music and Popular Culture Published by the University of Mainz in Germany, the content of the latest issue is available online for free, but at the last attempt I couldn't find any older material. There's a search function, and some information about African hip-hop
Sub-Saharan African Music Musicological course notes of the Cross-Cultural Communication: World Music module from the University of Wisconsin. Whilst it's not for novices (and the course notes are just that - notes with nary a complete sentence), their highly structured nature provides an ideal base on which to build your own work, and also contains a good deal of ideas to kick off further research on the internet or elsewhere
Djembefola As the name suggests, a site dedicated to the ever-popular West African djembe drum and percussion rhythms, and particularly useful for those wanting to learn the art. Has a very informative forum. Not for profit.
Trends in Kenyan Popular Music The development of Kenyan muziki ya dansi ("jazz music") up to the early 1990s, by Doug Paterson A good portal for African and Caribbean sounds and culture, with plenty of links to performers’ websites
Maghreb Muziek Tons of links to some marvellously obscure North African music sites, well worth exploring despite numerous broken links. Oriental heavy metal, anyone?
SHOUTcast Directory of streaming Internet radio stations worldwide; a good many from Africa

Photos and photography

I haven't had time to find new sites for this listing. There are probably plenty out there, but for now accept my apologies for this pathetic listing. Incidentally, I'm open to suggestions for sites to add to this section, but please no photo libraries unless you're specialized in culture (and not just Maasai dancers either).
Africa Focus: Sights and Sounds of a Continent One of several excellent contributions to the internet from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's African Studies Program. Its "Image and Audio" collection is the highlight, containing some 3500 photographs in addition to fifty hours of sound recordings from all over the continent
Planosphere Forgive my immodesty... my other website contains some glorious abstract photography from Kenya, including a weird and wonderful series of Lake Magadi
Billy Graham Center Archives Searchable archive of photographs and documents relating to missionary work in Africa, including Kenya, during colonial times
Royal Commonwealth Society Library Photograph Project Part of Cambridge University's Digital Library project, this contains a small number of colonial-era photographs, a good number of which cover East Africa. There are three categories of interest to us: Transport; Education; and Trade, Industry and Agriculture
The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record Hundreds of archive images, each accompanied by copious notes, concerning the slave trade on either side of the Atlantic.


Maps ancient and new. For more map sites, see Maps & Satellites at the University of Pennsylvania, or Columbia University's links for Maps of Africa
University of Florida Map & Imagery Library A superb resource from the University of Florida, with dozens upon dozens of high-resolution maps of Africa and its regions. The seven-page Antique Africa collection, with over fifty maps, covers the period 1561-1872; there are more recent maps on the Modern Africa pages
Antiquarian Maps (Yale Map Collection) A great selection of often eerily beautiful if sadly rather low resolution continental maps from 1570 to 1870 (mainly in GIF format), a good number complete with mythical beasties and the supposed abode of Prester John
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection Over 10,000 maps worldwide online, focusing on rare 18th and 19th century North and South America maps, though historic maps of Africa are also represented
Homann Africa Map A large scan of the pretty "Homann Map" of the African continent (1707). From the University of Minnesota's James Ford Bell Library
MSU Online Map Collection Good quality scans of mid to late 19th-century and early 20th-century continental maps taken from atlases
WWW-Virtual Library: Map History A reasonable collection of internet links for early map image sites, including a section on Africa
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection A good collection of bitmap versions of mainly nineteenth-century historical African maps; nothing on East Africa itself, though you'll find it on the continental plans. You'll also find the CIA's now rather dated Kenyan maps here

Society and culture

One area in which both academia and institutional funding organizations are largely absent is culture (a few exceptions are included below). Culture as in people, not just dusty museum pieces or well-meaning "campaigns" against this or that, or HIV and AIDS... So it is that most of the following links are themselves links pages
Africa South of the Sahara - Culture & Society High quality collection of reviewed internet links from Stanford University
Art and Life in Africa Project Run by the University of Iowa, with lots of information about the art and cultures of a selection of African tribes, including video clips (in RealOne format). East African peoples covered are the Karagwe, Maasai, Makonde, Pokot, Sambaa, Songo, Swahili and Zaramo. A CD-ROM version is available, as are DVDs covering African Pottery Techniques, African Masks (Burkina Faso), African Weaving, Arts of Ghana, and A Day in the Life of a Village in Africa
Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya Forgive my immodesty (again), but you won't find anything more comprehensive than this very site! Links to other sites with content specific to individual tribes are given throughout. The following tribal sections are currently online: Chuka, Embu and Mbeere, Gusii, Kamba, Kikuyu, Kuria, Maasai, Makonde, Meru, Rendille, Taita, and Turkana
Introduction to African History and Cultural Life An accessible one-page introduction to major themes in African music and culture, by Kenyan scholar Malaika Mutere. From the Kennedy Center's African Odyssey Interactive pages
African Women Links Compiled by Central Oregon Community College
Anthropology Reviewed internet links from the University of Pennsylvania
Circlist Covers circumcision in a favourable and distinctly obsessive light. Several articles relate to Kenya, but not for the prude or squeamish
Index on African Culture A mixed bag of links related to African culture, from music and plastic arts to society and architecture. Hasn't been updated in a while, so many links are now broken
Women Issues More links from the University of Pennsylvania

Religion, Philosophy and Mathematics

Ah, now this is where the fun really starts, thanks in no small part to the heroic efforts and decidedly eccentric passions of a handful of "rogue" academics. Time to throw overboard those lingering notions about boring philosophy and mind-bamboozling maths, and prepare to be amazed at just how wrong the colonialists and racists were/are about Africans... For more links, have a gander through the African Religious Studies links compiled by the University of Pennsylvania
African Indigenous Science and Knowledge Systems Dr. Gloria T. Emeagwali's contribution to the fray, and a most eclectic and enjoyable one it is too (with something of a obsessional amateur feeling to it - in the best sense, not at all dry academic fare). Presented are various articles on African "Indigenous Knowledge Systems" from a wide range of scholars, on everything from astronomy and philosophy to psychology and mathematics, plus a whole bunch of links to websites covering similar topics
African Philosophy Resources Part of a rambling website created by the University of Central Florida's Bruce B. Janz (homepage), and devoted to the study of African philosophy. It's useful primarily for its extensive collections of categorized weblinks, which can be browsed or searched. Categories include Ancient Africa, Art in Africa, Gender, Indigenous Knowledge, Intercultural Philosophy, Literature, PanAfricanism, Politics, Race and Religion. You can also subscribe to the AFRI-PHIL African Philosophy mailing list
Ancient Astronomy in Africa An fascinating introduction to the astronomy of ancient Africa, with lashings of pages and images about several sites, including the "Dancing Stones" stone alignment of Namoratunga, near Kalokol on the west shore of Lake Turkana (see my own page about this site here). The site presents various hypotheses, the favoured one being that the stones were aligned astronomically. All fascinating stuff loves academics who like to scatter their work all around the place - in fact, the more the merrier, by which standards this superb collection of papers and articles by Wim van Binsbergen is very merry indeed (if not a little messy). Specializing in traditional African thought processes, here you'll find long articles about ancient models of thought, traditional religion, divination, board games and a bunch of other stuff
African Traditional Religion Lots of links compiled by Chidi Denis Isizoh, including websites covering African religions in the Americas (Voodoo, Candomblé, etc), and the impact of Christianity and Islam in Africa
Mathematicians of the African Diaspora A shameless jumble of information and links concerning both contemporary African and Afro-American mathematicians, and - more interestingly - ancient maths and related fields. The website is probably best approached through its search engine, which works well. Particularly recommended, though, is the (free) online edition of AMUCHMA, being the journal of the African Mathematical Union Commission on the History of Mathematics in Africa, which is available both as HTML webpages and as PDF files
The Paideia Project Online Boston University's large online collection of freely accessible papers concerning ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of education, religion, art creativity, and epistemology. A little too dry and academic for my taste, but that's no criticism. The archive can be browsed by category or searched

Academic Institutions

The following educational institutions are known for their work in the field of African studies. There are many more, of course: Columbia University maintains lists of African studies programs, research centres and universities, various scholarly associations, and Education and Teaching Resources on Africa. The University of Pennsylvania offers a similarly wide range of referenced links, covering African Studies, Universities and Organizations
British Institute in Eastern Africa (Nairobi)
Columbia University - The Institute of African Studies
Cornell University - Institute for African Development
Harvard University - W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and American Research
National Museums of Kenya
University of Central Florida
University of Florida
University of London - School of Oriental and African Studies
University of Pennsylvania - African Studies Center


A short selection of the hundreds of the non-governmental organizations working in Kenya. Additions are most welcome, though sites should ideally contain something useful to the general public, and not just mission statements and news
FEMNET Kenyan section of the African Women's Development and Communication Network
Fahamu Focuses on respect for human rights and human dignity. Provides training to human rights and other civil society organisations, supports social policy research and research for equity in health, and publishes the excellent (free) Pambazuka weekly email newsletter
UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women Has a large number of documents online or for download as PDFs

Bibliographies and bookshops

Taken together, the following sites are probably all you'll ever need for locating even the most obscure academic writings about anything Kenyan. For more recent works about Kenya, a quick and dirty search on is probably the best bet for works published outside East Africa, whilst the Legacy Bookshop in Nairobi may be useful for locating locally-published titles. For stuff that's rare or out of print, try the Africa specialists For more links, see Columbia University's page on Africa-related Libraries, Bibliographies, Book Dealers, and Publishers, and the African-related Libraries links from the University of Pennsylvania
Africana Periodical Literature Bibliographic Database ( A perfectly insane labour of love, this gargantuan work (the mama kuba sana of its genre) is the fruit of three decades work by hopeless "Afri-cionado", librarian Davis Bullwinkle. Somehow, he has managed to assemble citations of almost 60,000 Africa-related articles that have appeared in hundreds of journals since the beginning of time. Well, since the early 1800s in the case of Kenya. Not content with this, he somehow manages to keep the whole thing up to date, too. Whilst the information is purely bibliographical (author, title, journal, volume and issue, page number and date; no abstracts or excepts), David's site is perfect for getting together a comprehensive list of work on whatever you're interested in, which you should then follow up at a good library near you (university libraries usually have some kind of policy to admit non-students; you'll strike gold if you can get the librarian to organise inter-library loans for you). The database itself is accessed through a custom-made search engine, and as the bibliographic entries are marked with a myriad invisible keywords, the results that churn out at the other end are as accurate as you could wish for. And all this for free, without an advert or pop-up window in sight... in a word: poa!
IndexKenya Project Another work of lunatic scholarship, this one providing visitors with an online index of articles published in Nairobi newspapers (the Nation, East African, Standard and The People). The focus is on culture, law/governance, reproductive health and other topics about which information is difficult to obtain. Whilst the articles themselves are not online, in the case of the Daily Nation and East African newspapers, the information is invaluable as you can then find the corresponding article on their websites (see the news section further up the page). Search by categories or full text
Traditional Music and Cultures of Kenya - Bibliography Having drawn on dozens of online databases and several hundred individual bibliographies, as well as my own collection, this is a specially-compiled bibliography dedicated to Kenya, with the emphasis on society, history, culture and music. The database currently contains over 6000 bibliographic entries for books, articles and papers, including works on Africa and a selection of works dealing with Kenya's neighbours (Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania including Zanzibar), the rationale being that some tribes and cultures know no national borders. The entire database can be downloaded as one file complete with a search engine, or accessed over 100 pre-prepared thematic bibliographies
Kenyan Resources Database Searchable bibliographic database of almost 1000 Kenya-related theses and dissertations written in Europe and North America; a mere fraction of what must be out there (and coverage prior to the 1970s is very patchy), but it's a good start nevertheless. Many of the more recent entries also include abstracts - welcome summaries for decoding the academic penchant for jargon-ridden titles. The search engine isn't as good as it could be, and some entries are double or inaccurate, but the raw data is there, and that's what counts. No data beyond 2000

Online books (ebooks, etexts)

For free downloads of books about Africa, two websites stand out:, whose over twenty thousand titles contain many a work connected with Africa; and the French National Library’s Voyages en Afrique, which has an amazing collection of scans of dusty old tomes (not all in French, either), covering everything from explorers’ accounts to studies in anthropology.
   A couple of CD-ROMs also merit a mention here: Art & Life in Africa, created by the University of Iowa, with plenty of cultural information, images and videos, particularly to do with West Africa; and Encarta Africana, Microsoft’s amazing African encyclopedia (unfortunately no longer updated, it seems), covering both the continent and its diaspora (particularly North American) in admirable detail.
   The following websites contain links to sometimes tens of thousands of free online books, whether in "plain vanilla" TXT format, or as web pages, PDF files or, more rarely, as scanned images. Most of them have some kind of categorization or search function, to narrow down your search to Africa or to specific countries or subjects.
Bibliothèque nationale de France The stats for the French National Library's digitization efforts are mind-boggling: over 90,000 works converted into bits and bytes so far, and even more images, all of which are available online and for free (merci beaucoup!). There's a ton of stuff on Africa, mainly scanned book images, in the section entitled Voyages en Afrique (mainly scanned images), including not only rare explorers' accounts (not all in French either) but a heap of obscure colonial documents and research treatises
Digital Book Index A massive collection of weblinks to almost 90,000 etexts and ebooks on the internet, more than half of which are free. You can search the collection or browse it via an intuitive system of categories. The link above jumps straight to the categories; if you access the site via the home page, you'll have to sign in (free)
Project Gutenberg Hugely influential and inspired non-profit project to digitize and distribute public domain books across the internet; currently contains over twenty thousand titles, including many of the most important nineteenth-century European explorers' accounts.
Goettingen State and University Library The section on Itineraria/Travel literature is what you want here. It contains a mass of otherwise impossible to find historical sources about Africa (including William Lithgow's seventeenth-century classic of travel journalism, the hilarious The Totall Discourse of the Rare Aduentures, and painefull Peregrinations of long nineteene Yeares Trauayles, from Scotland, to the most Famous Kingdomes in Europe, Asia, and Africa), and so makes it easier to forgive the blindingly awful site design: whilst the references to relevant books and monographs can easily be found (either browse or search the archive), actually getting to see the texts is a pain. The texts are mostly presented a page scans contained in PDF files. Have fun
University of Oxford - Internet Library of Early Journals The Bodleian Library's annoyingly modest contribution to the fray, containing scanned page images of several nineteenth-century journals. The main one of interest to Africanists is Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, which published many a travel journal. Hopefully one day we'll see the library getting serious about digitizing its treasures for the edification of the masses: the Bodleian contains, I believe, the biggest collection of English-language works on the planet. For now, you can get an idea of the extent of its collection via the online OLIS catalogue, which contains some five million works – about half of Oxford's stash

Academic Journals

Most of the following offer online access to articles published in their journals, often in PDF format. It would be nice if other journals followed suit, but be grateful for what there is. For more links to online journals, the University of Columbia maintains a list of Electronic Journals and Newspapers, Stanford University maintains an archive of journal indexes, and see also African Journals Online (, for tables of contents and abstracts from over two hundred African-published journals (only few of relevance to East Africa though), with links to the full text if available. And then, of course, there's Africabib (see review above) for information about just about everything that has ever appeared about Africa in journals
African Studies Monographs From from University of Kyoto, this is an excellent quarterly publication concerning both cultural matters (hunter-gatherers and music have featured prominently), and conservation. Most of the articles from the last few years are available for free in PDF format, and there are abstracts for all other papers
African Studies Quarterly Online journal catering to a wide range of interests, and with all its content since the first issue in 1997 available for free (as HTML pages; some papers are also downloadable as PDF files). Current articles are linked to from the main page; previous issues can be found here
Wajibu - A Journal of Social and Religious Concern A Nairobi-based publication with an informal feel seeking to "enlighten people on social, economic, political and religious issues", with the emphasis on peacemaking. The online edition, including back issues, is free, but the latest one dates back to 2003.
Saudi Aramco World One of the more positive aspects of the Saudi oil trade, this absolutely sumptuous publication (free access to all issues online; free subscription for the printed version, too) provides very readable and extremely stylish articles on cultural aspects concerning the Muslim world, in Africa and elsewhere; for Kenya, that means the coastal region, the Swahili, and various historical aspects.
Africa Update Quarterly newsletter of the African Studies Program at Central Connecticut State University, available both as hard copy or for free on the website
Érudit Not a journal in itself, but provides access (mostly free) to a number of Francophone academic journals. Articles mostly in French, some in English. The index is searchable
Hornet Annual collections of NGO reports concerning Africa, since 1994
SERSAS Website of the biannual Southeastern Regional Seminar in African Studies (South Carolina), publishing a good number of papers and proceedings online (free access). The bulk of them are in the papers online section (not updated since 2001); more recent papers can be found in the various "Programs" sections linked off the main page

Travel magazines

Travel magazines, even brochures produced by holiday companies and tourist boards, can be useful sources of information about specific places, and may carry general practical information, book and equipment reviews, and travel news. They’re also, naturally enough, great visual introductions. Be aware however that only few publications dare to give you the full picture: beautiful photographs and florid prose sell best, so the writing tends to be embedded in dollops of honey, and things like the slums beside the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the herds of tourist-filled minibuses in wildlife parks are unlikely to be depicted. Be aware also that some sorry travel writers live off freebies, so what they recommend may be distinctly biased in favour of their benefactors (hotels, travel agents and tour companies). Among the best for independent travellers (reviews taken from the Rough Guide to First-Time Africa) are the following:
Africa Geographic Magazine Styled on National Geographic and with photography to match, this mainly covers wildlife, with a few features on remote peoples as well
Focus on Africa A quarterly publication from the BBC, the accent being on political, economic and social issues rather than tourism. The website has portions of the current issue
Geographical Magazine of the Royal Geographical Society, with in-depth features on cultural issues as well as ecology and wildlife
Getaway Magazine Lots of travel-oriented articles, a good selection of which are on line, together with loads of practical information and destination profiles
National Geographic This superb publication needs no introduction. There’s a mass of resources on line, too
National Geographic Traveler Aimed at upmarket travellers, this spin-off from the famous magazine contains, like its parent, some great photography. Unfortunately, the articles can be somewhat superficial
Outpost Canada’s glossy mag for adventurous and independent travellers
Travel Africa Magazine A beautifully-produced quarterly with articles of a high quality and even better photography, mostly on fairly obvious touristic themes such as safaris and beachside heavens. The online archive is accessible to subscribers
Travel Mag Great stuff, all online too, its articles often dealing with off-beat topics – a pleasant antidote to many of the swisher rags
Wanderlust Magazine Another visually attractive glossy, published every two months, each issue carrying at least one piece on Africa

Travel guides

Whilst it's not my intention to cover tourism on this website, a good guidebook is always a useful resource, whether or not you'll be using it to travel. The best manage to combine nitty-gritty advice on where to sleep and eat, how to get by in the local lingo and get around on public transport, with overviews of history, culture, politics, music and literature.
   For full-colour books (inspirational photography and interesting contextual articles, but not so good on practicalities), have a look at Insight Guides and Eyewitness Guides.
Rough Guides In my wholly unbiased opinion (ahem, I write books for them), Rough Guides publish the best guidebooks for East and West Africa, with the Rough Guide to Kenya particularly recommended, as much for its practical info as for its extensive and detailed contextual information. For Tanzania, well, there's the world's greatest guidebook to look forward to: the Rough Guide to Tanzania, written by some dodgy mzungu mchizi who goes by the name of Jens Finke (who's he?). As you might expect from the tone of this website, it's both accurate and comprehensive (at 800 pages, it could hardly be anything else), and of course there's bags of stuff about culture and music.
Bradt Guides Another guidebook publisher I'd recommend without hesitation for Africa (and with which I have no connection) is Bradt Travel Guides, who - like Rough Guides - are strong on cultural and historical background. Their books are also enjoyably personal in style (well, enjoyable so long as you get along with the author, that is; don't worry, they're a fine bunch!).
Lonely Planet Lonely Planet's Kenya guidebook has improved considerably since I lasted worked on the Kenyan Rough Guide, but I haven't used it so I can't really comment.


Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2007

also by Jens Finke
Chasing the Lizard's Tail - across the Sahara by bicycle - fine art photography