General – Africa

Resources for Teaching about Africa: A Short Guide

In spite of the seemingly limitless resources that can be found in print and electronic media, it takes particular effort to find those which go beyond superficial, often negatives stereotypes about the continent and which enable students to form deeper, more complex understandings of the 54 African countries that make up the continent of Africa.  Below are some topic areas to consider, along with examples of curricular, book, visual, news, information and other media.  These and other resources are available through universities with outreach programs in African Studies.

Geography, Material and Cultural Diversity

Seek resources that show the geographic and material diversity of Africa, emphasizing the fact that “Africa is not a country”.



Economic Development and Current Issues 

Africa’s economic development is typically talked about through the lens of the West and the international donor community, with a focus on its insurmountable poverty, corruption and disease.   Seek out resources that highlight Africans’ own agency in their development as well as their perspectives on issues.

  • Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want   Africa’s aspirations for the next 50 years, published by the 54 nations that make up the African Union.
  • Program Documents: Sustainable Development Goals  17 UN goals to reduce poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all people.  Individual countries commit to pursue, track, and report on these goals between 2016 – 2030.  Reports from the prior 10 Millennium Development Goals also provide good country and regional information.
  • Film: Water First  Told through the story of Malawian Charles Banda, the film shows how access to clean water affects communities’ achievement of the millennium goals.
  • Curriculum : Explore Global Issues in an African Context  
  • Curriculum: Teaching Human Rights in Africa; Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement  this UNC lesson plan uses the example of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai who mobilized Kenyans for environmental and social justice through her Green Belt Movement.  Can be complemented by the film Taking Root which tells the story.
  • Curriculum:  Introducing Bonobos and Bonobo Survival lesson plans from the Bonobo Conservation Initiative help younger children understand the environmental threats to these primates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Curricular Guides:  Oxfam Education provides lessons for different age groups on current topics across countries. Searchable by topic, age range, country.
  • TED talk:  How I harnessed the wind  William Kamkwanba’s story of how as a 14 year old he innovated a windmill to develop electricity for his village.  From University of Wisconsin/Madison site with many resources.   


African Voices in your community and beyond

Many Africans have come to Columbus over the last several decades as immigrants and formed vibrant communities here, among them Somalis, Ethiopians, Ghanaians, Senegalese, Nigerians, Liberians, and many others.  Local civic and cultural organizations, social service agencies, and businesses help bridge the gaps between African and American cultures.  African students at OSU and elsewhere have cultural organizations that can serve as resources.


Material Culture & the Arts 

  • Book Review Site:  AfricaAccess  well known site for review of childrens’ books about Africa
  • Curriculum:  Exploring Africa: Studying Africa through the Humanities these MSU modules explore African literature, art, music, and religion
  • Interactive site: Art & Life in Africa  This University of Iowa site organizes African craft & art objects with life concepts such as healing, death, abundance and so forth.
  • Lesson plan/presentation: African Textiles  scroll to powerpoint on diversity, meanings, uses of fabric across the continent, with an activity using Adrinka symbols from Ghana


News Media

Go beyond Wikipedia and the CIA Factbook.  Focus on African and international perspectives.

  •    news from African countries’ public and private media, international outlets
  • Africa Focus      indepth analysis by country and issues – searchable
  • BBC Africa        accessible news updates, country profiles
  • Africa is a Country       analysis of trending issues for the continent
  • Pambazuka      analysis of trending issues for the continent


African Resource Centers with Teacher Resources


Resources for Africa:

Resources about Environmental Issues: