How would you like to take a deeper look into the cultures of Africa? Well, here is your chance to explore far-off places to find the commonalities that bind us all together. By reading literature, having thought provoking online discussions, and creating a final project that will reflect your new understanding of these African peoples and their diverse cultures, you will find that the line between cultures is both as wide as the Sahara and barely visible all at the same time.
In the first portion of this course, you will be reading, writing, and having online discussions about child soldiers in Africa. This is a very intense and thought provoking topic that is, I believe, not widely known or talked about in the United States.
The second portion of the course will focus more on African cultures in general and traditions and ways of life that differ greatly from one African country to another.
Beyond the Mango Tree by Amy Zemser
Short story: Anticipation by Mabel Dove-Danquah (Ghana)
Short story: Law of the Grazing Fields by Cyprian Ekwensi (Nigeria)
Short story: Bindeh’s Gift by Sarif Easmon (Sierra Leone)
Others to be announced
The books above may be found at your local library, otherwise you may wish to purchase them on Amazon.com. The short stories will be posted on the Moodle site for you to download. WEEK ONE: Introduction to Africa - What is culture? (How is it that a group of people can all be African and yet be so different? What is it that makes the cultures of Africa so different?)
Forum 1 (week 1)
Tell us about yourself = Your name, favorite subject in school, any second language learning you’ve experienced, favorite thing to do in your free time. Describe a time you felt like you were a foreigner. Why did you choose this course? What time are you usually online for possible chat time with a peer?
Glossary: Use the glossary function to list any words you are unfamiliar with during this course. You may enter the dictionary definition or put the dictionary definition into your own words.
Forum 2 (week 1)
What do you know about Africa and it’s people?
Have you ever been there before?
Have you seen any movies or read any books that provoked your interest in learning about Africa and it’s people?
What is one question you have about Africa that you would like to be able to answer by the end of this course?
Before reading our first assigned reading, we will be looking at several different African countries and comparing them based on their cultural differences; languages they speak, how they live, how people make a living, what schools are like, etc…
I am very open to other ideas and suggestions, so if you wish to do research on African countries other than those that are listed above, please let me know!
Choose three of the countries listed above, find out the following, and collect some images from the web (at least 2 images per country) to support your ideas about each:
What is daily life like there for the average person?
What language(s) do they generally speak and in what context do they use these languages?
Is there any type of political unrest there, and, if you can find out, why, and what is being done about it? Is there war?
What did you find to be the most interesting thing you found out about this country?
Would you want to live there and why?
Forum 3 (week 1)
Land and People. How does the land influence the people, what they do, what they wear, how they communicate, even what they look like?
Journal Entry for Week 1: Only I will be reading your journal entries. How do you think where you live (in the United States/in the town you live) influences what you do, what you wear, how you communicate and what you look like?
WEEK TWO: TRADITIONS AND ORAL HISTORY
Forum: Are modern day storytellers still important to our culture? How do they effect us? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
Assignment: (Research) Define what a groit is. What was/ is their role in society? Find 3 famous griots. What made them so famous?
Assignment: Read at least three myths either from the links provided or from these websites. What are 3 broad similarities that each of the three stories has? For example: many myths use hyperbole (which means exaggeration.) What other broad elements do all three stories have? Give an example from each story to support the commonalities that you’ve selected.
Sites that contain African Myths
About African Myths
Define the word irony and then describe why the ending is ironic.
WEEK THREE: TRADITION AND ITS ROLE IN CULTURE
Forum: If something has always been done one way, does hat mean it is the right way to do it? What could happen if it was done differently? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
Forum: It is said that Americans do not have any traditions. Is that true? If not, what kind of traditions do we have? How do they define our American culture? If you agree, how do you think not having traditions effects us? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
Assignment: Read both The Law of the Grazing Fields and The Path and answer the following questions:
What is the theme of the story?
Find 2 characters in each story that are similar to each other and explain why they are alike.
Why were the traditions followed in the stories?
Did change ever occur? If so, what was the stimulus for that change?
Assignment: Read Anticipation
After reading this story, how much power do you think women have in African? Find a quote to support your interpretation.
Find 3 websites that investigate the modern role of women in Africa. Describe in a short paragraph what each site states about the role of women in Africa.
What role do you think tradition plays into the role of women?
Do we have similar issues with the role of women in the U.S.?
WEEK FOUR: COLONIZATION
Forum: Is it ever okay to be violent? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
1. Define colonization.
2. Research on the web and find out which countries occupied which areas of Africa. Then create a chart that shows who occupied which countries.
What changes did they the colonizers tend to make on the countries they took over. Describe at least three that you have found through your research.
Would the United States or Europe be as powerful if the African colonies had never existed? Why or why not?
Assignment: Read The Martyr.
Research the Maassi. Find 3 quotes about them from 3 different sources. Then write a summary describing who they were and what kinds of cultural beliefs they had.
How did colonization change their cultural identity?
Is what happened in the end right or wrong? Explain your answer.
Assignment: (Research) Select 5 African countries. What natural resources do they have? Does it seem that the wealth from these resources has helped the people of that country? Explain why you think it has or has not.
WEEK 5: COLONIZATION AND ITS EFFECTS
Forum: What pops in your head when you think of fear? Tell about a time or times in your life when you’ve felt fear. Have you ever felt as though your life was in danger? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
Forum: It is said that once you drop a stone into water you cannot stop the ripples. This saying means that you cannot stop the consequences of an action once it is done. Do you believe that this is true? If you think that you can stop the effects of an action, describe what it would take to reverse the consequences. If you think that you cannot stop the consequences, explain how you think change or growth happens.
Assignment: Read the short stories: “The Bench”, “The Park,” and “Coffee for the Road.”
For each story answer the following questions:
How did the lead character deal with oppression?
Did the oppression change the way he viewed him/ her self? How can you tell?
What happens when a whole group of people feel this way? Research 2 major African issues below and link them to the feelings created by the oppression describe in the stories. Find one quote describing the problem and then explain why it is linked to the oppression these people experience.
Lack of education
Sickness and disease (AIDS)
Journal: Have you ever been the outsider, the one not allowed to join the rest? How did it effect you? If not, have you ever excluded someone? Why? Did it help the situation? Write a full paragraph to explain your answer.
WEEK SIX: THE MODERN AFRICAN- A BLEND OF PEOPLE
Forum: Do you think diversity in college populations or workplaces is important? What positive aspects and what negative aspects of having many different types of people in one place could there be? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
Forum: Would you ever move to a far off land like Africa? If so what would motivate you to do this? If not what would stop you?
Assignment: Read--The first 60 pages of Beyond the Mango Tree
1. The book opens with Sarina tied to the mango tree. Why do you think the group of Liberian children are so interested in her? Why do they pinch her and touch her?
2. Why is Sarina's family living in Liberia? How does each family member adjust to it?
3. Much of the dialogue is written in the Liberian-English dialect. Did you like reading this unfamiliar pattern of speech? Was it difficult? How do you think it sounds?
4. It is often assumed that the people colonizing or from European countries are the smart ones. Is this true in this case? Why or why not?
Assignment: Choose three African countries. What different kinds of tribes or ethnic groups live there? What kind of differences do these tribes or ethnic people have from each other? How does this make the country stronger? What issues has it created?
Project: Continue working on project discussed at the f2f. You will journey further into the world of African storytelling in working on your final project, for which you will be writing your own African Story. In order to do this, you will need to do research on African storytelling. One criteria of this project is that you not only tell your African story to the group at our final face to face meeting, but that you also act it out, using props, makeup, costumes, etc. In order to do this, you may work with one other person in the group. You will still be evaluated individually, however, on your story and performance.
WEEK SEVEN: EVERYONE IS HUMAN
Forum: Can people who come from very different backgrounds, be close friends? What issues might block the friendship and what positive elements might there be? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
Forum: What makes us all humans? Is there anything that is common among all of us? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
Reading: Read to page 120 in your book and answer these questions.
What is wrong with Sarina's mother? Why do you think she isn't properly medicated?
What is TeTe and Sarina's relationship like? Why was TeTe stealing? Do you blame her?
How do you think it would feel to be so needed by your mother for her physical and emotional health?
Is Sarina's dad fair to her? What has he asked of her? Is it too much?
How do you think Boima feels after Sarina saves him from the snake in the lagoon?
Project: Continue to work on your project.
WEEK EIGHT: THE FUTURE
Forum: In the next 50 years, do you think Africa will seem so far away to students your age? Do you think African countries will be more unified in the next 50 years? Do you think African countries will have more power in 50 years time? Give real life examples or quotes to support your ideas that you develop in a well-formed paragraph. Don’t forget to respond to at least 3 other students.
Assignment: Finish the book and take a test.
Project: Finish your project.
Wrap up your project and finish your reading test.