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Preserving Culture and History in Africa   Tags: primary source world  

Last Updated: Jun 18, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Lukasa memory board


The Jackal and the Leopard, an Ethiopian folktale


Talking Drums, Joh Camara (Master drummer and dancer from Mali, West Africa)



While many elementary and middle school educators teach their students about Africa, finding age-appropriate primary sources and related activities is often a challenge, particularly when looking at early African cultures. Many available lessons focus only on African works of art, such as masks, that are difficult for children in US classrooms to relate to their own lives and experiences, further solidifying the conception of an American "us" and a very different African "them." Others frame Africa as a monolithic culture frozen in time, ignoring the reality of this diverse and rapidly modernizing continent. Each of the primary sources and activities included in this cluster has been carefully chosen to serve four main purposes: to introduce students to a specific region of Africa and to the distinctive culture of the people who have inhabited it, to show how three unique African societies draw on their natural and human resources to store and communicate their histories and values, to explain how mnemonic devices created long ago still play a crucial role in many African societies, and to underscore the importance of cultural preservation across all societies and all times.

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