Teacher's Guide for Africa - Kidipede

Teacher's Guide for Africa

The main difficulty in teaching Africa is that it is such a big place - a whole continent! - so that there are very different things to say about the different parts of Africa. You want the children to understand that not everyplace in Africa is the same as every other place.

You could start with the Twa, the forest people, who live now in central Africa but used to cover a lot more of Africa. As the population of Africa expanded and the climate got drier, more and more people lived in the grasslands, as the Khoikhoi and the San do today, so you might talk about them next.

As the people of North Africa gradually learned about farming from West Asians, you get the great civilizations of Egypt and then Carthage and Rome, but also important states south of the Sahara in Ethiopia, and across Chad to Mali and West Africa.

Eventually the West African Bantu seem to have spread out across southern Africa, where they pretty much wiped out the Khoikhoi, the San, and the forest people. They themselves were attacked by Islamic and non-Islamic people from Chad and Ethiopia and Morocco. In East Africa, Islamic people from West Asia created trading ports.

Many of the children may want to discuss European colonization of Africa and the European and American enslavement of West Africans. You'll find that dealt with in our North America section. Colonization and slavery are very important, but we might do well to remember that Africa had a long independent history before the Europeans arrived as well.

You may also want to explain why we don't see big stone buildings and cities in southern Africa, while we do in northern Africa. The main reason for this is that there's a shortage of good building stone in southern Africa, so that buildings tend to be made of wood or mud, which don 't last as well. Another reason is that because it is fertile enough to support people without farming, Africa began farming later than West Asia or Europe, and so people were not so crowded there and didn't need to build big cities.

For some ideas for activities, check out these books on Amazon.com or in your library:

Plays from Folktales of Africa and Asia: One-Act, Royalty-Free Dramatizations for Young People from Stories and Legends of Africa and Asia, by Barbara Winther (1976)

Main Africa page
Africa Crafts and Projects
More teachers' guides

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