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”.
- Curriculum: “How Big is Africa” maps and activities
- Book: Africa is Not a Country Elementary level book showing children from different African countries
- TED talk: The Danger of a Single Story by Chimimanda Adechie Nigerian novelist explores how limited viewpoints and narratives undermine the potential of those who tell and hear them.
- Curriculum: Why Study Africa Part of an extensive MSU curriculum that examines Africa’s diversity and global connections
- Curriculum: I Didn’t Know there were Cities in Africa! Challenging childrens’ and adults misperceptions about the African continent lesson plan from Teaching Tolerance magazine.
- Curriculum: Exploring Africa: Studying Africa through the Social Sciences Module 2 of this MSU site looks at Africa’s history prior to and after 1500, as well as issues of economic and political development
- Curriculum: Africana Civilizations resources from OSU libraries on African history and civilizations
- Curriculum: Ancient Africa for Kids simple lessons and games
- Curriculum: Understanding the Horn of Africa this resource from UC Berkeley examines this region’s history and current issues.
- Curriculum: History Resource Guides and Lesson Plans comprehensive resources from Boston University
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.
- The King Arts Complex hosts art exhibits and activities that reflect African culture, including its exhibit on the middle passage.
- The Young African Leaders Initiative is a U.S. presidential initiative to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democracy, and enhance peace and security in their respective countries. Several cohorts of Mandela Washington Fellows have done fellowships at OSU. Their backgrounds, stories and achievements are inspirational.
- Course Website: Somali Studies for Educators developed from an OSU K12 workshop, this site has lectures, short clips, and other resources addressing history, language and culture.
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
Go beyond Wikipedia and the CIA Factbook. Focus on African and international perspectives.
- Allafrica.com 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