Before examining the suggested classroom strategies, it is important to realize that for many years studies and texts about Africa have been guilty of some erroneous ideas about the continent. while the available instructional texts and materials have improved somewhat in recent years, there is reason to believe that some of those misleading ideas have real life in classrooms across the nation. In 1995, Professor Angene Wilson of the University of Kentucky published a review of middle/secondary textbooks and supplemental materials. In this review, Wilson identified the major problems which confronted both teachers and students in learning about Africa. (The Social Studies, November/December, 1995.) Her cues came from two eminent African scholars (Ali Mazrui and Basil Davenport), whose views in the early 1990s could be equally applied to the turn of this new century. Both of the scholars identified as the primary mistaken approach to the study of Africa is to continue to treat Africa and its nations as if they were still colonial objects, and not as prime actors on the world stage. Nelson Mandela is an important representative of the shift from a `colonial prejudice" to the assertion of national independence and dignity.
It is important for teachers to realize this essential bias, for as they understand Africa, so will they teach and students learn. Trying to reverse ingrained prejudices and misperceptions is a very difficult job indeed. The alternate vision of an Africa emerging from past centuries of domination and maltreatment, ready to take its equal place among the world's nations, has great parallels in our own country's attempts to deal realistically with racial prejudice in our own country. The task is challenging.
1. From the excerpts presented have students identify the major components of the problems confronting the African continent (social, political, economic, and cultural), and then make the association with the suggested solutions or approaches to solutions being offered here, or from additional sources on the Internet. Consider carefully the moral/ethical dimension of this global problem, and, finally, consider what governments and agencies beyond a national border might do to help solve the problem. Some attempt has been made to modify difficult language, but some of the medical terms or descriptive language remains as given in the summary; it may be necessary to provide additional vocabulary assistance to more challenged students.
2. Reproduce the Fleshman article cited on page 13 (Fleshman, Mike, "Africa's Battle in Seattle: WTO Impasse Highlights Global Trade Inequalities," <http://www.africa policyorg/docs00/ar0001.htm> and distribute it to students. This is an article quoted from Africa Recovery, a publication of the United Nations Department of Public Information. Have them identify the position taken by the African (and other South of equator nations) repre sentatives at the unsuccessful WTO meeting in Seattle in December, 1999. Have them consider why the Developed Countries take the position on trade that they do. Is there a moral/ethical dimension to economic policies that must be considered? Compare this statement with the statement of the First Jubilee South Summit given previously. The important outcome of this exercise should be establishing an "African perspective" on what Africa believes is necessary for its progress.
3. Africa in the World. Find reproducible maps of Africa at various
time periods: 1500, 1800, 1900, 1950, 1999 (or 2000). Use the maps
to help students to trace (and research) the historical development
of the African Continent-from independent states, to colonial subjugation,
to independence movements and, finally, to nationhood status. Assign
groups of students to each of the time periods: what was the political
status? economic status? social conditions? etc. Their texts and other
library resources, as well as the Internet, should be utilized to
provide the needed data. At the conclusion, ask students whether the
Jubilee South's position is justified by history.
4. Pandemics. This may be a valuable time to link social studies with science and study the impact of plagues on the fortunes of people and nations throughout history. For example: What impact did the Black Plague have on Europe in the 14th century? The smallpox plague (and other imported diseases) on the native populations of the Caribbean and Central American areas in the 15th and 16th century? The flu epidemic of 1917-18? The HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 20th century? It would be important to have students see clearly the link between a healthy people and a healthy economy and stable government. Use the HIV/AIDS article on page 8 above to initiate the discus sion-and have students consider why the dimensions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa is so devastating, and, why, indeed, it is a worldwide concern ... not just an African one.
An excellent present day case study can be found in "How is AIDS related
to debt burden?" by Dr Peter Henriot, Times of Zambia, November
2, 1999. The author is Director at the Jesuit Center for Theological
Reflection in Lusaka. The original can be aquired from the Times of
It can also be found through <http://europe.eu.int/comm/development/aids>.