Africa

Media Guide
Name Type Description


The Lion King

DVD Disney film that honestly doesn't have much to say about Africa. I usually show the opening scene just to give students a sense of the landscape. I show the whole movie, however, during the Renaissance as it is a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet.


The Gods Must Be Crazy

DVD Comedy about somewhat modern Africa that tells the story of a very traditional tribe living in the Kalahari. Very funny movie but again I show only the beginning to set some background.


Wild Boyz Season 2

DVD This will require some definite editing. Wild Boyz is essentially MTVs version of National Geographic. Two guys who are definitely of the MTV generation travel to various countries to meet the people and animals. Surprisingly educational in parts and hilarious in others (if you have the sense of humor of a 14 year old which admittedly, I do). In season 2 they visit Kenya and I show two very short scenes as part of my unit introduction.
The Sahara: Forgotten History DVD The closest I've found to a documentary on West Africa. It is actually about North Africa of course but includes some of the key points important in the west such as the gold/salt trade, the influence of Islam and Mansa Musa. Not perfect but definitely the best I've found.
Simpsons Season 12: Simpsons Safari DVD The Simpsons take a trip to Africa and visit Victoria Falls among other things. Definitely good for a few clips.

"Tortoise Beats Hare"

DVD When I talk about oral history and griots in West Africa I discuss the importance of folk tales. Some research a few years ago led me to the African version of The Tortoise and the Hare. In it the tortoise wins through teamwork which I use to show the necessity of the village system in Africa. This Looney Toons episode plays out in a similar fashion.
The Tortoise and the Hare Video Downloadable (legally) at archive.org this is the more common (for the West at least...) version of the folk tale. This version is not particularly interesting but it works.

Africa Unit Guide
(The PDF is the latest version but obviously not easily edited)
I. Geography and Society of Western Africa
a. This covers the 5 major geographic regions of Africa as well as a very brief explanation of oral history. Included in my notes but not online is an "Animal Break" section about gorillas. I use a clip from Wildboyz here. It helps break up what is an otherwise very text heavy lecture. Also of note, I no longer include the folk tales or proverbs section in the lecture as I cover those in the Culture Shock.
II. Government and Economics
a. Day 2 of the notes examines the impact Islam had in Africa by looking at Arabian traders and the Salt Trade. It also looks at Africa government briefly with a focus on Mansa Musa and his pilgrimage. I have an animal break here about camels and their impact on the expansion of the desert trade routes.
Admittedly not my best work but the kids enjoyed it well enough. The first shock involves designing a game to be played in the desert (my personal favorites: Pin the Tail on the Camel, Camel Tipping and Lizard Darts). The second is about oral history. I read my students The Battle of Kirina and have them attempt to tell it back to me orally and see what details are lost. It works with any Africa folk tale and actually a bit better as those tend to be more interesting. The final section is about Africa proverbs and, while basic, was fun for my students.