The history of West Africa can be divided into five major periods: first, its prehistory, in which the first human settlers arrived, developed agriculture, and made contact with peoples to the north; the second, the Iron Age empires that consolidated both intra-African, and extra-African trade, and developed centralized states; third, Major polities flourished, which would undergo an extensive history of contact with non-Africans; fourth, the colonial period, in which Great Britain and France controlled nearly the whole of the region; fifth, the post-independence era, in which the current nations were formed.
West Africa (1917-2005) was a weekly news magazine that was published in London for over 80 years and closed in 2005.
It was first published on 3 February 1917 from offices in Fleet Street, with the commercial backing of Elder Dempster Shipping Line and the trading company John Holt. It was to appear weekly, at a price of sixpence per copy. Its first editorial explained its raison d'etre:
The magazine was intended as "an open forum for the discussion of every question involving the welfare of the peoples of West Africa.... It offers itself as a friend to every cause which holds out a prospect of advancing the position of West Africa as a prosperous and contented member of the Empire...".
Having begun as a source of news about events and issues in the British colonies of West Africa as well as a link between the colonial power and its administrators in the field, for 80 years West Africa magazine was considered a major source of information about the region.
In the mid-1960s is was the target of a successful takeover bid by Cecil Harmsworth King’s media empire. In 1978 it began to publish poetry and fiction by some of the continent's leading writers. The literary editor from 1978 was Robert Fraser, followed in 1981 by the Booker Prize–winning novelist Ben Okri. In 1993 a commemorative volume was published, entitled West Africa Over 75 Years: Selections from the Raw Material of History, edited by the magazine's then editor, Kaye Whiteman (1936-2014), and researched by Kole Omotoso, Ferdinand Dennis and Alfred Zack-Williams.