TAKINGAFRICA TO THE CLASSROOM
A Publication of The Center for African Studies
University of Florida
Teaching About Africa Using French Language 5
Exploring Malawi Through Children's Literature 11
The Gullah: A Living Connection 16
Between the Sea Islands and West Africa:
Climate and Agriculture of West Africa: 24
A Tour of African Countries Through Music 27
The Role of Proverbs in West Africa 32
A Personal Memoir Invoked by : 35
an African Text: The Dark Child:
Learning More About Africa Through Cuisine 38
South Africa arts.
performing at th.
Florida's Reitz Union
in the Fall 1999.
** Cover: Pair of Chi Wara Dance Crests
..... Center for African Studies
Outreach Program at the University of Florida
Teachers'Workshops The Center offers in
service workshops for K-12 teachers on the teach
ing of Africa
Summer Instittes Each summer, the Center
holds teaching institutes for 12 teachers
Pubhcations The Center publishes teaching
resources including the Irohs, which is distributed
to teachers In addition, the Center has also pub-
lished a monograph entitled Lesson Plans on
Aflrcan History and Geography A Teaching
Library Teachers may borrow video tapes and
books from the Outreach offi e
A Wnter andpoet Charles MAiungoshi om Zmsba-
bwe was a wnter-ip-msidence at the Umnversiy of
Flonda vni Spnrg 2000 He vsited several
schools including Baby Gaaor where he read
stones jom his books
Community and School Presentations Faculty
and graduate students make presentations on
Afica to the community and schools
Research Affiliate Program The program
enablesAfcan specialists at institutions which do
not have adequate resources for Afncan-related
research, to increase their expertise on Afrca
through contact with other Afncanists as well as
access to Afn can-related resources of the Univer
siy of Flonda libraries Two one-month appoint
ments are provided each summer
F : ach summer, the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida
hosts a K-12 teachers' institute. The objective of the institute is to help
teachers increase their knowledge about Africa and develop lesson plans
Sto use in their classrooms. The creative lesson plans in this issue of
Irohin were written by participants in the 1999 institute. Please feel free
to use these materials in your teaching and share them with other teach-
ers. Write or call the Center for additional copies.
Agnes Ngoma Leslie,
Picture shows partici-
pants in the Summer
Institute. Back row:
Marie Paul, Agnes
Ngoma Leslhe (Institute
Swartz, Shelton Davis,
Tim Ajan, and Rose
Wershow. Middle row:
Dawn Forman, Chelsle
Jefferson, Lisa Cooper,
Annie Johnson, Michael
Manetz, and Deatra
Dr. Michael Chege
African Studies) and
The Center for African Studies, University of Florida
427 Grinter Hall P.O. Box 115560 Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 3922183 Fax (352) 392-2435
Agnes Ngoma Leslie, Editor/Outreach Director, Layout & Design Pei Li Li
The following could
e area of A
h~eSorlac. ofn*x ljSP
a'cluda -S' Uto
souRCE: AJft Tda r An AllM s o
Reprodnable Pagt Reprint with
prmlsson Further r.printhng Is nol
Teaching About Africa Using
Marie R Paul
POINT OF DEPARTURE
Africa, the second largest continent after
Asia and the third largest in population, offers to GOALS:
the world natural resources including gold, 1. To provide an important key to the
diamonds, cobalt, uranium, oil, and the fruits of treasure trove that is Africa.
human endeavor in religion, philosophy, litera- According to various sources 700
ture, and science.
ture, and science, languages are spoken on the continent.
Africa provides us more than another However, as a result of French
world market to be exploited for commercial and Belgian colonial history, French is the
gain. It has a cultural history dating back to the official language of most of North Africa
beginning of man and is home to many modes of and ofmany countries in Western and
thought, some ancient and some new, which still Central Africa. Beyond these boundaries, it
have not been fully explored. African political is very widely used and studied.
power on the world scene is on the increase.
As a result of the African Diaspora in the As a motivational tool, good poetry
United States, some American institutions and requires an intimate understanding oflan-
attitudes can be better understood by acknowl- guage. The production of a body of work in
edging their origins in Africa. French which can take its place proudly in
In an ever shrinking world one cannot the best of world literature and produced by
ignore the varieties of African experience. We individuals coming from vastly different
live together in closer proximity each day. Some cultural and linguistic structures in which
experiences tend to separate us, but many more French is not their first mode of expression
must unite us for humanity to benefit. To do this will demonstrate to all students the possibil-
people must communicate and so we start with ity of success in the discipline.
2. To demonstrate proud and some-
IN PREPARATION times unstressed cultural roots.
Volunteers are called upon to a do a Bulletin
Board presentation- a large map of Africa on
which Francophone countries are prominently TARGETED GROUP
displayed and on which care is taken to give the
The chosen material is suitable for third and
most current names (e.g. Zaire to DRC) for the
fourth year French Students.
Test Your French!
Jusqu'au milieu du XXeme siecle, la
France 6tait une grande puissance colonial. Les
colonies et les protectorats francais occupaient
une superficie d'environ 4.600.000 "square
miles", c'est a dire, approximativement vingt
fois l'6tendue de la France. Les anciennes
colonies franchises, les territoires et les
D6partements d'Outre-Mer actuels avaient une
population de plus de cinquante-cinq millions
En Afrique, beaucoup de pays ont
reclam6 leur independence. Depuis 1956, les
territoires, I'un apres l'autre, ont acquis cette
independence. Cependant, parce que beaucoup
de ces pays avaient e6t formes par la France,
l'influence franchise y est encore tr6s forte. (1)
Start the class with a review of vocabu-
lary dealing with geographical features, political
divisions etc. Refer to bulletin board display.
Elicit from students residual knowledge
previously taught allowing them to express
themselves in the target language. Provide a
handout of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions
dealing with the subject and for which they will
be held responsible.
Allow the students to test their knowl-
edge of West and Central African countries by
providing a printout of these countries on which
they will attempt to match the country name
with the correct area. Correct immediately and
refer to the bulletin board to note if any name
changes have been effected e.g. Zaire to DRC
etc. Assign some students to research when
these changes have come about and why. En-
courage them to use the internet if school library
sources do not provide the answers.
(1) La Geographie de la France, Gessler Pub-
lishing, NewVork, N.Y.
Start with an oral review of vocabulary
stressed the previous day.
Have the class repeat names of countries under
French influence as shown on bulletin board.
Point out Senegal on display. Indicate location
of Dakar. Show the picture and note that it is a
large city resembling many such cities in Europe
and North America.
Give a Cloze test (dict6e) dealing with general
facts about Senegal.
Exchange papers and correct.
Discuss verb and adjective agreement and
French sounds and spellings e.g. in the word
Republique note how the accent aigue changes
"e" sound and in the pronunciation of "ique" the
"i" is long and that spelling "que" gives us the
"k" sound in English etc.
Les Devoirs: Assign a "redaction" on the
subject of Dakar. It is to be written in French
using at least 10 sentences. This can be as
simple as "Dakar est une grande ville. C'est la
capital du Senegal. On y parle francais etc."
The level of language depending on the talent of
the student. Stress is to be put both on accurate
language structure and general information
about the city.
Introduce L6opold S6dhar Senghor to the class.
A world renowned literary figure familiar
with the long history of oral verse evident in
many of Africa's diverse cultures and the first
African invited into the Academie Francaise,
Senghor felt that the invention of Francophone
African poetry provided an opportunity not only
to reach a larger audience but also for these
writers to actually influence and change the
French language to suit a broader purpose.
Senghor deeply believed in and promul-
gated the idea of "n6gritude". For him it was
"L'ensemble des valeurs de civilisation du
monde noir". Some writers have held that
negritudee" is the basis for modem American
Afrocentrism. They also attribute to it the
recognition of the African woman as not only
the economic force for much of the continent but
With this in
mind we start
our study of
Femme Noir by
the poem read
for the first time.
They repeat it
times with the
Students are given a vocabulary list: words
unfamiliar to students at this level are listed in
columns and by type nouns, adjectives, verbs
They are to use dictionaries to find the English
translation and if possible to provide a definition
using a sentence in French. Verbs must include
the designation regular or irregular. If irregular,
the student must provide for the verb the present
tense, the past participle and the future stem.
Work is checked. Verbs are discussed. Ques-
tions on the vocabulary are taken and problems
of syntax are explained.
Students again repeat poem with teacher
* Celebrating African womanhood. These girls havefun decorating their faces.
(Picture by Betty Press)
by Leopold Senghor
J'agrand itonombre;la douc detes mahsbandatmes
Etvoiqu'au coeurdel'Et et deMdi,jetedcouvre,Tenre
promise, du haut d'un haut col caldin
Etta beautme foucoie en pleincoeur,comme 'rdaird'un
Fruitmurlacharferne, sonbresextasesduvinir bouche
Savane auxhorizons pus,saaneqi fmis auxcaresses
Taoixgravedecontratoest l chant splitdel 'Amie.
Hile que ne ride nul souffle, while came auxflancs de
I'athlte, aux flancs des princes du Mali
Gazele aux attaches clestes, les series sont toiles surla nit
Dlicesdesjeuxde I'esprit, les refletsdel'or rougesurta peau
Al'ombredetachevele.s'6dae mon agoisse auxsois
nourrir les racines de la vie.
Black Woman (translation)
Nudeworanbl anr w
Clothed inyourcolorwhich is life, inyourform which is
I havegrown yourshadowwhetesweeressofyorhand
And high on te fiery pass, fnd you, Earth's promise, in the
And youbeautyasts meful-heat iketheflash ofaneagle
in the sun.
pe fruitof firm flesh, deep rape ofdarkwine, lipswhose
song is my song,
Savanna of pue horizons, savana tre ing atthe EastWnd's
Caredctom-tom,tighttom-tomgoang idelr handsof
Yorheavyconrto isthespirit-songofthe loved.
Oil of no ripple orflow, can oil on the flanks of the athlete,
on the flanks of the princes of Mali,
Gazele of heavenly indhg, pears are starsonthe ightof
Deightsofthe playful mhd, the red sun's ginton you
LkUdertheshadowofyourhair-ycares areightend bythe
neighboring sun ofyoureyes.
Isigyourpasshg beauty, yourfor IlfD iintheAgeless Night
Before oldjealus Destiny bingsyoudown hthe fire and
Day Four Follow up
Stdentsreea entle t em thee ties ,wit
Stdensare toldteeywll memone te
selection Bef re they te floor madead
faintly il ll be explamed that onlyto stanisa
week will be ecitedfo a grade However on
the td week the ente pem is to be presented
and willbe graded on onunciaton and les-
The Poemis ranslatedorallybystudenis
usimg theuvocabulaiylistfromthe previous
day A liteal anslaton is at first encouraged m
orde to have students understand he language
The meaanng of te pece is dscussedby
means of questions asked in re nchandto
which the students resnd in French
Devous The studenismustanswernFPrench 10
questi ons on the content of the em
Situdentsreeat entie oem thee times with
teacherromping Class dnlsonvocabuliy-
at fistwon s- thenpases tenstenlces
Fenchto Engsh and Engsh to Fench
The class slais to wrk on the fist two stans
of he poem
Students eat oem line byline afr teacher
modehng Indivcdual sudens ae calleduponto
ee at afeithe teacle Each sent i called
upon several mes
Students now irepat firs two staas
In the allowing weeks the students
begm ad ended the class wth reetlon of the
poemandshoit vocabularidnl Additional
class work is sanduched between these
Poemsae testedon Wednesday Tues
days leseved fo mtense onunciaton exe
ciseson he lines tobe ecied
When the entle poem has been leased
a general wntten test is gen on the background
matenal The students are also rlespns le for
allvocab ulayandr glammatical sticuues
mentioned and used
* Cotnempary street ce iMgera (Phctare
by Betty Pre)
A T LA N T I C
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mpfdf, T 5sa"g1 tia GI
19 Oultniffitimu 20 rluiram
21 Sian Lnw 22 Ub2 L..
22 ME ilh Etn4k i4 Bwr. Fma,
2l rWimni. TPgQ. zTaowt
2* Wguiak 29 caawclient, "ci
GUMI fl r-bf,=oi
RpAAIk 34 C11114rd3 Aflrkn
27 hunnd, $5 UgMa. flJ syu
46 Tmintnn 411 Amgoki
42 hMR1111u111 4 S1141% & -
44 Li ll"1m 45 Bnatd
As Boafwuw..,' WZA4Stw.I
41 Zabhl 49'US.W
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54 MntlwlYP. 51 Cimaarn,
AFRICATODAY 1994 Revised Edition
111 King Street, Littleton, MA01460 U SA
Copyright (c) 2000 World Eagle IBA, Inc
Repnnted with permission from WORLD EAGLE,
111 King Street, Littleton, MA U S A
1 800-854 8273 All nght reserved
Exploring Malawi Through
Goal: To gain a general understanding of the lives of Malawian children, and to gain knowl-
edge of Malawi and surrounding East African nations.
Suggested Teaching Strategies: Activity:
Information about Malawi can be deliv- How to make a galimoto
ered to students by class discussions, visual, map
work, group activities, and by using books with You will need coat hangers that have
pictures to illustrate concepts. Gahmoto can be been straightened, a spool of wire smaller in
read individually or as a group, depending on the diameter than the coat hangers, strips of latex
reading ability of students. This compilation of (an old swim cap cut into strips works nicely).
information targets reading, math, and life skills Divide students into small groups. Shape the
and can be used in the instruction of county coat hanger into a bike. Wrap the smaller wire
pupil progression skills, or Individualized around the larger frame. Wrap the latex around
Educational Plan goals and objectives. the wheels, and there you have your own
Galimoto by: Karen Lynn Williams *Depending on the ability level of your stu-
dents, you may wish to demonstrate and guide
Kondi is a seven year old boy living in a students through this activity. Older students
village of Malawi. He wishes to make a may only need an example to go by, and
galimoto (a toy car), but he does not have written directions.
enough wire. Kondi goes through his village,
buying wire and collecting wire that is thrown Skills: reading, listening comprehension,
away. He finds enough wire and constructs a .
away He finds enough wire and constructs a fine motor, social skills, following directions.
Malawi is located in East Africa, bordered by Zambia and Tanzania in the north, and
Mozambique in the southern part of the nation. The country is a long narrow valley that holds the
third largest lake in Africa, Lake Malawi. The majority of the country is forest, including a small
portion that is rain forest. Half of the nation's population resides in the south. Ethnic groups of the
people include Chewa, Ngoni, Natal, and Yao (from Mozambique). Chichewa is the national lan-
guage. English is the official language. Only 12.8% of the population lives in towns (as of 1993),
leaving the majority of the nation living in rural areas. Life expectancy is 45 years for men, 46 years
for women. The death rate is 50 per 1000. Agriculture supports local economies.
Facts About Malawi
0 wCapital city:
S IiooKA Climate:
SCENTL'-- Malawi has three seasons
S ,- -cool, dry season from Apnl to
\ MOZAMBIQUE August
*No -wanm, dry season from
Ncl SOHUTHERN September to November
MOZAMBIQUE 4 -rainy season from December
to Apnl (90% of rainfall
occurs dunng this season)
ZIMBABWE *n"* Energy:
Wood is the main source of
Map of Malawi energy Only3%ofhouse-
holds had access to electricity
as of 1999, mostly generated
from hydroelectnc power
Traditional religions (50%)
(Cathohc, Anglican, Presbyte-
The Flag of Malawi
Unit of currency:
Malawi kwacha (MK)
Leopards, hinas, jackals
hyexs, rcuapnes, bush-
mongooses, velvet mon-
keys, sevals ciets
genes, tee frogsand over
600 species ofbuds
Food to mention
Mikuaim relsh (p1mn2 pm
leaves cooked wittomatoes
hnna (conuineal pimdge)
Guav okznga (fied guavas)
Studenslean Engsh m school andseak local languages oyat home 70% of Malawanboy,
and 49% of Mala girls attend school Less than 10% of hildenattend secondayschool, and
even fewer attend hgher educ aton offered at e Umversityof Malaw Soccer (c aled foofall) is
anorganizedspritinshools Cildrenalso enjoyboxg,baseball andbaskeall Fuwa is a
pulargame m which one attemptstowinmthe oppnenisgame pecesmuchlechessorcheckers
Making a soccer ball:
You illneed old lagsand a meter of t e foreachball Sciunchrags, waphemma largerag
Bunchiuptheendof thelarge ag One student holdthe bunchof lags, hle the o e iapthe
twine around he ball Youmayneedto assst some
student mithe begang to i see that the te
wrap edtlghtly Allow students to take the soccer
ball outside and kick i aud If llowus, have a
*Diectoln for tds activtycanbe wtten m small
booklets for gioup to ad and do mide endecntly
Skills: read, fine motor gross motor, fol ow-
ng drections, vocabhlary and social skills
Cooking in Malawi
Malawians enjoy the following dishes, one made of sweet potatoes and other
made of groundnuts (we know these as peanuts!).
Mtedza (peanut puffs)
Cream margarine and sugar, add peanuts, vanilla, and flour. Roll
3/4 cup finely chopped peanuts into small balls, put on a greased cookie sheet and bake 35 min-
1/2 cup margarine utes. While hot, roll in powdered sugar, repeat when cooled.
2 tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla *Note: Recipes can be written on cards or made into booklets for
1 cup flour any grade level. Pictures can be used to assist those with learning
powdered sugar disabilities.
pinch of salt Skills: fine motor, social skills, following directions, reading
comprehension, decoding, and measurement.
Mbatata (Sweet Potato Biscuits)
3/4 cup mashed sweet potato
1/4 cup milk
4 tbs. melted margarine
1 1/4 cup sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix and beat potatoes, milk, and
margarine. Sift and stir in remaining ingredients. Turn onto a
floured board and knead lightly. Roll out 1/2 inch thick and cut
with a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter. Put on a greased cookie sheet
and bake for 15 minutes.
Maize (corn) or cassava (a root also called yuca) are main staples in Malawi. Either product is
ground and used in many dishes. Cassava can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores.
Thaw the cassava, then grind the pieces into a fine powder. Explain to students that this is an impor-
tant ingredient of many foods, such as Fufu. Fufu is a dumpling served with soups. If you choose to
make Fufu, use the recipe below, which substitutes Bisquick for the ground cassava.
2 1/2 cups Bisquick
2 1/2 instant potato flakes
Bring 6 cups of water to a rapid boil. Combine ingredients in a
bowl and add to the water. Stir constantly 10 to 12 minutes.
Mixture will be thick and difficult to stir. Have one person hold
the pot, while another stirs. Dump a cup of the mixture into a wet
bowl and shake until it forms itself into a smooth ball.
O'Toole, T. (1988). Malawi In Pictures. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Company.
Carpenter, A. & DeLany, M. (1977). Enchantment ofAfrica: Malawi. Chicago, IL: Children's
Williams, K. (1990). Gahmoto. New York, NY: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.
Angelou, M. (1996). Kofi and His Magic. New York, NY: Clarkson Potter Publishers.
Cobb, V. (1998).
This Place is Wild: EastAfrica.
New York, NY: Walker and Company.
Sayre, A. (1995). If You Should Hear A Honey Guide. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Farris, P. (1996).
Youne Mouse and Elephant.
New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company
Sammon, R. & Sammon, S. (1994). Wild Safari In 3-D. Berkley, CA: The Nature Company.
Chicken with Olives
5 i i. l li .
5 tbsp. ofoil
by Deatra Spratling
1 onion chopped
i .. i .i. ;,
Ii' l '' "'f'*' ll
Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onions slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cumin and paprika. Add
chicken, which has been washed, on top of onions. Cook over low heat, covered for 1 hour. Turn
chicken frequently. Add a little salt if necessary and add the finely chopped onions. Cook for
another 20 minutes.
Stone olives and put them in a pan of cold water. Bring water to a boil and leave for 1 minute.
Drain off water and repeat the process to remove all salt from the olives. Add olives to chicken and
cook for a few more minutes. Just before serving, squeeze a little lemon juice over the dish. You
could serve with pickled lemon slices
The Gullah: A Living Connection Between the
Sea Islands and West Africa
by Rose Wershow
* Baskets made in Sierra Leone are identical to
those made by Sea Island Gullahs.
When I was a child, I used to listen to
my father talking with Willy Giles. Willy Giles
was the African American who grew crops and
raised livestock on our land. He and my father
spent many hours leaning on the fence, engaged
in animated conversation, obviously enjoying
each other's company immensely. What they
talked about, I could only guess. Even though I
understood a word here and there, I never could
catch an entire sentence. I knew it had to be
English. Willy Giles was from Georgia and
even though I have never excelled at geography
even at that young age I knew Georgia was part
of the United States and people from Georgia
When I finally asked my father what
language they were speaking, he replied they
were speaking "Geechee". I knew my father
liked to tease me and to me "Geechee: sounded
exactly like a word my father would make up to
torment me. So Ijust laughed, to show I was
not taken in so easily and left it at that. And
thereby I missed what I now know was a
priceless opportunity to learn first hand about a
rich and unique community of people that
exists only on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Although commonly called Gullah
today, Geechee is the Georgia name for the group of African Americans that have the strongest living
cultural links with Africa in America today.
The Gullah language and customs still have such pure evidence of their African roots that
American Gullah- speakers and Krio-speaking Africans from Sierra Leone can understand each other
with no difficulty at all. Baskets made by the Sea Island Gullahs and used by their ancestors on the
rice plantations of South Carolina and Georgia are identical to the baskets made and used in Sierra
Leone during the rice harvest today. The baskets are called by the same name in both countries.
This vibrant and living history can be used in the classroom to communicate much about
Africa and it's links with America, both historically and in our lives today.
Gullahs are descended from slaves that came from a fairly small geographical region, the
West Coast of Africa from
Senegal to Sierra Leone, the GOTTUH TEK DUH CHILLUN OUTUH PHARAOH
Rice Coast. The colonists of soi o HAopN
South Carolina and Georgia aI p, I ,
discovered that the humid,
1. Oh Lawd, trou-ble een duh lan', Yuh got tuh tek duh
semitropical climate of their I
coastal plantations was suited .-
to the production of rice. chillun out-uh Phar-aoh han', Oh Lawd, trou-ble een duh
Unfortunately the colonists _
knew very little about how to O :. -
S. lan', Yuh got-tuh tek duh chil-lun out-uh Pha-raoh ban'. Yuh
grow rice and their early ,. .
attempts to do so were failures. -. .
Their solution t the problem got tub tek duh chil lun out uh Pha raoh Kan', Yuh
was to import the knowledge E?
they needed by buying slaves got tuh tek duh chil lun out uh Pha-raoh han', Yuh
who came from a rice growing F4., |I,|,
area and had the experience t tek duh cil lun out- uh Pha rhan' Yu
necessary to make the rice -
plantations profitable. I Ei .
The colonists of South got -tu tek duh chil lun out uh Pha-raoh ban'.
Carolina and Georgia generally '
showed far greater interest in Neb- buh been to Heb-ben but uh has been tol', Yuh
the geographical origins of Ve, 3.4 Etc.
African slaves than did planters .._1- J | -
in other North American Tal les' tree een Par a dise, Yuh Etc.
colonies. Planters were willing
to pay higher prices for slave
from the Rice Coast. Slaves
from the Rice Coast. Slaves This song is typical of an early spiritual sung by
traders who came from a rice Gullah people (Faces: People, Places, and
growing area and had the Cultures, Cobblestone Publication, 1998)
experience necessary to make
the rice plantations profitable.
The planters of South Carolina and Georgia came to rely heavily on the technical knowledge
of their African slaves. The systems of sluices, banks and ditches used on the plantations are similar
to the ones used by the Temme of Sierra Leone as early as the 1700s. The labor patterns, the large
wooden mortars and pestles used to pound the rice at harvest time and the large round winnowing
baskets used to separate the grain and chaff by "fanning" are all identical to those used in West
Africa. The slaves of Georgia and South Carolina continued with many of the methods of rice
farming which form special link between the Gullah and the people of Sierra Leone.
Rice is an important part of the Gullah diet and reflects the West African cuisine of their
ancestors. Rice and greens and rice and okra are similar to Sierra Leone's plasas and rice and okra
soups. Red rice when served with a gumbo containing okra, fish, tomatoes and hot peppers, greatly
resembles West Africanjollofrice. A South Carolina writer who has visited West Africa, refers to
jollofrice as a "typical South Carolina Meal"! In very remote areas the Gullahs have also tradition-
ally made a boiled corn paste served in leaves
similar to Sierra Leonean agzd and a heavy
porndge of wheat flour which they call fjf
The slaves on tie plantations were more
isolated from the influence of the colonists than
slaves in other areas because the climate of the
Low Country was not only conducive to the
growing of nee, but also to tropical diseases,
such as yellow fever This kept plantation
owners away from their
holdings for certain 1
seasons and left the
slaves with more au-
tonomy than was usual
Of course Gullah cus-
toms borrowed from their
white masters, as well as
being a mixture of le-
ments from many differ-
ent ethic groups in
Africa, but much of the
culture does point to West
Africa and their language
points to Sierra Leone in
particular For stance,
the Gullah practiced
Chnstianity but their
style of woarhp reflected
their African hentage
they developed a cer-
emony called "nng 4
danced in annual
SBrer Rabbit is the
fashion m a circle
in lim a l tales tbhrr
while sicks were
pounded rhythmically and eventually partici-
pants expenenced possession by the Holy Spint
while shouting praise and thanksgiving Al-
though nng shout seems to have ded out other
customs are still practiced Sea Island Gullas
may still pant their doors and windows blue to
ward off witches and evil pints Gullahs may
believe in evil pints that can enslave a person
by controlling hs or her will Sometimes the
walls of houses are papered with newspnnt or
sometimes a bit of folded newspaper is put
inside a shoe in the belief that the spint must
first read every word before taking action This
custom seems to be denved from the common
West African practice ofweanng a protective
amulet, sebeh orgrigri, containing witten
passages from the Koran.
Ghulah story telling is widely known to
most Amencans through the
Brer Rabbit tales collected
by Joel Chandler Hamns a
hundred years ago and
published as the Tales of
I Uncle Remus Brer Rabbit is
the "tnckster" found in
animal tales throughout
Aftca In Kro (Siera
Leone) stones he is known
as Kom Rabbit The Gullah
have a nch collection of
animal fables The plots of
these stones always involve
competition among the
animals, which have dis-
inctly human peonalities,
s. and the situations and pre-
dicaments are virtually
d identical to those i stones
p told mAfica
South Carolina and
Georgia museums contain a
S wide assortment of artifacts
sterores made dunng slavery
stne times, some beanng close
oicAfca connection with crafts
wooden mortars and pestles, nee "faners", clay
pots, calabash containers, baskets, palm leaf
brooms, drums and hand-woven cotton blankets
dyed with indigo
The Gullah language is an English based
Creole language Creoles develop when people
of diverse backgrounds come together and must
forge a common means of communication
Gullah is not "broken English" but a full and
complete language with it's own systematic
grammatical structure. Many linguists argue
that an early West African Creole English devel-
oped in the 18th century and that the slaves from
the Rice Coast brought the rudiments of the
Gullah language directly from Africa.
Another startling link with West Africa
was discovered by the late Dr. Lorenzo Turner
while studying the Gullah in the 1940s. Dr.
Turner met Gullah men and women who could
recall simple texts in various African languages,
texts passed from generation to generation and
still intelligible. He identified Mende from Vai
Sierra Leone phrases embedded in Gullah songs;
Mende passages in Gullah stories and an entire
Mende song, apparently a funeral dirge. Dr.
Turner also found Gullah people who could
count from 1 to 19 in the Guinea/Sierra Leone
language of Fula.
Dr. Turner found at the time (in the
1940s) that all Gullah had African basket names
in addition to their English names which were
used for official purposes. The basket name is
given soon after birth, when the baby is still in
the arms or in a cradle (or "basket"). The basket
name is known and used only in the family
circle and the home community. It is not the
same as a nickname which may be acquired
during adolescence or later because of some
physical or personality characteristic or an
incident in the person's life. Dr. Turner un-
equivocally states that the Sea Island basket
name is nearly always a word of African origin.
The Gullah use such masculine names as Soire,
Tamba, Same, Vandi, and Ndapl and such femi-
nine names as Kadiatu, Fatimata, Hawa and
Isata, all common names in Sierra Leone.
Naming in African societies was and is an
important choice. Names are not just identifica-
tion tags, they record family and community
history, reflect present status and are a promise
of future success. They may be influenced by
the day or time of day a child is born, whether
the child has younger or older siblings, what
cosmic events such as flood or famine or war
were going on at the time of the child's birth.
The Yoruba of Nigeria say "We consider the
state of our affairs before we name a child."
(THE CRUCIBLE OF CAROLING, pd.25).
What enabled the Gullah to preserve so
much more of their African heritage than other
African-American groups? It was only in South
Carolina and Georgia that Sierra Leonean slaves
came together in large enough numbers and over
a long enough period of time to leave a signifi-
cant imprint on the language and customs of
their descendants. The insistence of the planta-
tion owner on slaves from the Rice Coast and
the isolation of the slaves and their descendants,
both during slavery and since, have given Gullah
culture the elements needed to preserve the rich
heritage of Sierra Leone and West Africa in an
If you don't know where you are going,
you should know where you come from!
If una noh usai una dey go unafoh no usai una kohmoht!
Krio (Sierra Leone) proverb
Efoona ent kno weh oona da gwine, oona should kno weh oona come from!
LITERATURE: Making A Connection Between
West Africa and the Sea Islands
1) Share folk tales from West Africa and from the Sea Islands with
your class. Have them discuss similarities and differences. Ask them to
suggest what new circumstances might have caused the changes. Keep a
list of the ideas students bring up.
2) Spend some time with Brer Rabbit. Older students can learn
and tell a short Brer Rabbit tale or read it out loud. Younger students
can hear the cassettes and books featuring Brer Rabbit. Hear the
teacher tell or read a story each day. A listening station can be set up
with audio appealing for the small, weak rabbit to continually come out
on top using only his quick wits. Why would human characteristics be
applied to the animals? Would this make it safe for storytellers to com-
ment on powerful people without directly mentioning them? Ask stu-
dents to write a short Brer Rabbit tale themselves or with younger stu-
dents, make it a group activity and the teacher can record the story on
3) A good novel for 3rd grade and up is THE TERRIBLE, WONDER-
FUL TELLIN' AT HOG HAMMOCK by Kim Siegleson. This chapter book
fits well with the Brer Rabbit/story telling theme. It centers on a young
boy growing up on Sapelo Island and shows the changes the Gullah
culture is undergoing, as well as the strength of community that has
preserved the culture and will continue to do so. A very positive, upbeat
book, good for reading aloud.
4) The storyteller played an important part in African history and
culture. Help students understand the role of oral tradition in societies
that do not have a written tradition. Older students can research the
topic on their own Younger students can simply be introduced to the
idea of history and culture that is preserved orally and not in books.
How was this important to people who were forced to leave their homes
and ethnic groups and transported to totally unfamiliar and hostile envi-
5) Sponsor a story telling event with guest or student storytellers.
End with food tasting featuring West African and Gullah recipes.
GEOGRAPHY AND MAPS
1) Locate the Rice Coast on a world map (Senegal to Sierra
2) Locate South Carolina and Georgia on the world map
3) Research the route takenby slave traders from Sierra Leone
to South Carolina (FACES, Februay, 1999 has a very simple map of
4) Using a topographical map, figure out why the coastal areas
of South Carolina and Georgia are called "Low Country"
5) Using atopographica map, list similarities and differences
between Sierra Leone and South Carolina/Georga
6) Research the climates of Sierra Leone and South Carolina/
Georgia andlist similanties and differences
There are several contemporary Gullah artists that have infor
nation readily available in books or on the Web: Ernest Butts, Jr.
(www.gulla-art.com) and Jonathan Green (www.galletychuma.com/
NATIVEAMERICANAD/OR FLORIDA STUDIES
There is a group of Gullah that escaped to Florida andlived with
the Semmnoles in Florida. They fought withthe Semmoles dunng the
First and Second Seminole Wars. These Black Sem oles were forcibly
removed along with their Indian comrades to Indian Territory (now
Oklahoma). Look for information under Black Semmoles, Black Indi-
ans (Andros Island in the Bahamas), Semminle Freedment (Semmole
County, Oklahoma), Mascogos (Nacimiento, Mexico) and Scouts
t AFRICA NEWS COOKBOOK: Features
recipes from all over the continent of Africa.
Good information of area recipes come from
adaptations for American kitchens.
t BITTLE EN' T'ING GULLAH COOKING
WITHMA UM CHRISH' by Virginia Mixson
Geraty. A contemporary cookbook in Gullah and
4 BO RABBIT SMART FOR TRUE:
FOLKTALES FROM THE GULLAH retold by
Priscilla Jaquith and illustrated by Ed Young.
4 THE BRIDGES OF SUMMER by Brenda
Seabrook. Sent to spend the summer on a South
Carolina island, fourteen year old Zarah finds
herself in what she considers a lonely, primitive
place, surrounded by terrifying wildlife and an old
woman who clings to the past. As "sophisticated"
Zarah rebels against a culture she does not under-
stand, she discovers the startling truths about her
Gullah grandmother and comes to a better under-
standing of culture and change.
4 BRIDGES TO CHANGE: HOWKIDS LIVE
ONA SOUTH CAROLINA SEA ISLAND by
Kathleen Krull. A photo documentary about
children living within a culture brought from
Africa generations ago, and the lives they lead
where Gullah background is not made clear, but
simply referred to as African American.
4 FROM MAP TO MUSEUM by Joan Ander-
son. The uninhabited island of St. Catherines, off
the coast of Georgia, hold many secrets. Join
archeologist David Thomas as he explores this Sea
Island while looking for a lost Spanish Mission.
4 A GOOD SOUPATTRACTS: A FIRST
AFRICAN COOKBOOK FOR AMERICAN
CHILDRENby Fran Osseo-Asare. The author is
American, married to a Ghananian and has spent
time living in Ghana. The recipes in the book are
mostly Ghanaian or West African. The author
Books On Afric
makes a point of emphasizing the connection be-
tween West African cooking and the recipes of the
American South and the historical reasons for this.
4 THE GULLAHby Joseph A. Opala a 36 page
pamphlet published in 1987 by an American anthro-
pologist lecturing at the University of Sierra Leone.
This is an excellent resource. Available at the
University of Florida. E 185.93.S7 0621 1987
4 JUMP! THE ADVENTURES OFBRER
RABBIT adapted by Van Dyke Parks and Malcolm
Jones, illustrated by Barry Moser
I LITTLE MUDDYWATERS: A GULLAH
FOLK TALE by Ronald Daise
4 A NET TO CATCH TIME by Sara Harell
Banks. Musical Gullah words describe each time of
day as a young boy goes about his island business
of fishing and selling Gran's deviled crabs.
4 THE TALES OF UNCLE REMUS as told by
Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.
I THE TERRIBLE, WONDERFUL TELLIN'
AT HOG HAMMOCK by Kin Siegelson and
illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Short chapter book
centering on Jonas who wants to keep the memory
of his beloved Gullah grandfather alive by repre-
senting his family at the traditional storytelling
contest, even though Jonas feels he is too young to
do a "man's job". Try using web site www. gacoast.
com/navigator/iamsapelo.html with this book.
I THE WATER BROUGHT US: THE STORY
OF THE GULLAH-SPEAKING PEOPLE by
Murial Miller Branch. A broad perspective of the
history, culture, religion, folklore, arts and language
of Gullah speaking people. This book presents a
wonderful mix of factual information with the
personal perspectives and experiences of the author.
There is also a detailed bibliography for those who
want to do additional reading and research.
t WHENROOTSDIE: THE ENDANGERED
TRADITIONS OF THE SEA ISLANDS by
Patricia Jones-Jackson. This book was developed
after years of research of the Sea Islands and the
coast of West Africa. The author makes connec-
tions between the Gullah language and traditions
and those found in West Africa. The author also
explores the forces that are threatening these
BRER RABBITAND THE WONDER-
FUL TAR BABY- Rabbit Ears Productions, 30
minutes, all ages.
DA UGHTERS OF THE DUST: A beauti-
ful low budget commercial film by Julie Dash,
1991, Geechee Girls Production. Focus on a
Gullah family as they prepare to move North at the
beginning of the 1900s. Sundance award winner
for cinematography. Adult.
FAMILYACROSS THE SEA: Traces the
footsteps of African people to the Sea Islands and
uncovers the connections between the two. A
historical and linguistic detective story, inter-
spersed with the "homecoming" of a delegation of
Gullah to their West African home land of Sierra
Leone. (High school to adult) California News-
reel, 149 Ninth Street/420, San Francisco, CA
UNDERSTANDING EACH OTHER: An
excellent video to help children relate to different
cultures and ethnic groups. Narrated by a young
African actress who provides a brief introduction
to Africa. Good for all ages.
1-800-323-5448 for ordering information.
Gullah: Excellent site by the Beaufort
County Public Library. Provides history, recipes,
web links. www.co.beaufort.sc.us/library'/Beau-
Gullah Art: Ernest Butts, Jr.
(www.gacoast.com/navigator/ebjr.htm, Joseph A.
Pinckney (www.gullah-art.com) and Jonathan
Penn School: Excellent 1995 paper by a
Ph.D. in Organizational Communications for the
Gullah and Penn School.
community/stories-studies pewdiverse com.html
Sapelo Island: Focus on a Gullah story-
teller from Sapelo Island. Use with THE TER-
RIBLE, WONDERFUL TELLIN' AT HOG
HAMMOCK, which is set on Sapelo Island.
Sweetgrass Braskets: Brief history of
sweetgrass baskets. Good pictures of many
different types of contempory sweetgrass baskets.
Rice fannerr" is basket makers and you can order
baskets from this site.
FACES has an entire issue devoted to the
Gullah. (February, 1999: GULLAH; PEOPLE
OF THE SEA ISLANDS) Included in the issue
are maps, articles, photographs, a rice puddn'
recipe, tie and dye craft activity, a story in Gullah
and English and a crossword puzzle! If your
Library/Media Center does not carry FACES, back
issues can be ordered from 1-800-821-0115 or visit
their home page at http://
AMERICAN VISIONS, the April/May
1997 issue, includes an article on the Sea Islands
and their place in African American history. Also
gives information on the annual Gullah Festival
that is held each May.
Climate and Agriculture of
by Michael A. Manetz
Introduction: In teaching seventh grade geography, this unit on Africa is divided into five
sub-sections based on the geographical regions of the continent. The following lesson would be
incorporated with the sub-section on West-Africa, and covers the physical nature of the region, the
climate and vegetation zones, and the effect of climate on agriculture.
Students will be able to:
E identify, locate, and describe the major
climate zones of west Africa
E differentiate between a cash crop and a
E> identify several agricultural crops found
in West Africa
> analyze a list of West African crops to
determine a) if it is a cash crop or a
subsistence crop, and b) in which cli
mate zone the crop would most likely be
> wall map of Africa
> textbook showing climate/vegetation zones
of West Africa
> handout: "Biographies of famous (and not so
famous) West African agricultural
Sa few examples of West African food crops.
Millet, cassava (aka yucca), and corn
(maize) should be readily available.
Pictures or photocopies of some of these
products would be helpful.
1. Introduce the lesson by giving a pre-test on
several West African agricultural products one
by one, asking students what they think the
product is, or for what the product is used.
2. Introduce and discuss the concepts of "cash
crops" and "subsistence crops".
3. Using a wall map of Africa and referring
students to a climate map in a textbook, explain
and describe the climate zones of West Africa.
Include at least:
a. tropical coast b. Savanna c. Sahel d. Sahara
4. Students working in pairs analyze crops
described in the handout "Biographies of Fa-
mous (and not so famous) West African Agricul-
tural Products" trying to decide for
each product, is it a cash crop or a subsistence
crop? and in which zone would it most likely be
-students could create and label a map of West
Africa, with symbols for each product showing
where the products would be grown
-students could view video "Koi and the Kola
Nuts" as a transition between this lesson and
further lessons) on the culture of West Africa
ECOLOGICAL AREAS OFAFRICA
30 20" 10"
Copyright (c) 2000 World Eagle BA, Inc
Reprinted with permission from WORLD EAGLE,
111 King Street, Littleton, MA U S A
1 800-854-8273 All nght reserved
0" 10 20' 3
Tall grass savanna
Short grass savarrnna
0 400 BO mi
S 6000 1200 km
'T 10" 0' 10* 20" 30"
Source Office of TechnologyAssessment Africa Tomorrow
Issues in Technoloqy, Agnculture, and U'S' Foreign Aid
December 1984 P 77
40' SO' 60'
AFRICATODAY 1994 Revised Edition
111 King Street, Littleton, MA01460 US A
40' 5O" 60t
Biographies of Famous (and not so famous)
West African Agricultural Products
millet: Millet is a grain that is heat and
drought resistant. In fact, millet actually lies
dormant during drought conditions, and then
continues growing when rains come. The har-
vested grain can be prepared as a gruel (like grits
or cream of wheat), or ground into flour to make
maize: Maize is common both in Africa and
in the United States, where it is known as corn.
The plant is native to Mexico and Central
America, and was introduced to Africa by the
Europeans. As in the United States, maize grows
best with moderate (not too much, not too little)
rainfall. Africans grow maize mostly to feed
their families, and it is enjoyed roasted on the
cob or ground and boiled to make a thick por-
ridge. In the nation of Ghana maize is fermented
to make a dish called "kenkey".
kola nuts: Kola nuts grow, not surpris-
ingly, on Kola nut trees, which are native to
forests of coastal West Africa. The nut is rather
bitter tasting, but when processed contains the
extract from which the flavor for our cola soft-
drinks is derived. Kola nuts make the "real
thing" possible! This is used by West Africans
for ceremonial purposes and as a source of
caffeine, the nuts are now grown on small
plantations from which they are sold abroad for
the soft-drink trade.
yams: Yams are tubers (starchy, potato-like
root crops) that are native to the wet coastal
regions of West Africa. Yams are often confused
with sweet potatoes, which are native to the
American tropics. In fact, yams that are sold in
the U.S. are not yams at all, but are actually a
variety of sweet potato.
sorghum: Sorghum is another heat and
drought resistant grain crop that is popular in dry
regions. When harvested, the kernels are used
for porridge and to make bread.
ground nuts: Ground nuts, commonly
known as "peanuts" here in the United States,
form underground as part of the root system of
the peanut plant. Ground nuts prefer a warm
climate with moderate (not too much, not too
little), rainfall for optimal growth. Although
originally native to the Americas, ground nuts
have become very important to the economy of
West Africa, and several nations from Senegal to
Nigeria list them as a major export.
cassava: Cassava is another tuber that is
native to tropical America (where it is known as
"manioc") and has transplanted well in similar
climate areas in West Africa. Some species of
cassava contains cyanide, and have to be thor-
oughly soaked in water before it can be eaten.
This versatile root, can be grated and dried into
flour, and from there made into bread.
cacao: Cacao is a small tree that was origi-
nally native to tropical regions of South America
and was brought to Africa by the Spanish and
Portuguese for cultivation. Large pods that grow
on the tree contain beans that, when ground,
produce what we call cocoa, the main ingredient
for chocolate. Two West African nations, Ivory
Coast and Ghana, are among the top three cacao
exporting nations in the world. Consider that the
next time you bite into a Hershey bar!
A Tour of African Countries
Procedure: (Appicable each song)
1 Listento music examples ofeachcounty
2 Compare the e m stuiinenis heard in te song, name the astu-
3 Locate the counryonthee map usmg directions (NS3EW)
4 Have cluldrensng along white song andcreate movements
to accompanyeach phase Ivake up rounesfor dance
5 Sig te sng in te language recordedas wellas Engsh
6 Afereach ng, have stdentsidentfye flag of te county
7 Peifonn song as a class or group
8 Eachchildcan ecord the countiym the pesaort as each
counitys musicallycovered Tis willbe a our ofeach country
avoareg n of
Mateals Trunk consist-
ing of np, flag of the
country, avel brochures,
clothing, curncy, music,
musical instruments and
art examples Passports
for each child
call and response
These songs are a small representation of the Afncan music collection Please check with your
music teacher at your school for more information, the library (public), and local music stores,
Public Broadcasting (XPR) station, WUFT channel 5, Ganesville, AFROPOP, Sunday 7 00-8 00
The following countries are used as examples for the singi* .
From eachAfncan country, I have selected songs) that illustrate
an ideal musical representation ofthat country These songs come
with movement activities for children and can be used in he
classroom These musical representations can be found n the
music series called The Music Connection, Silver Burdett G n,
MH HH El ...........
Objective. Playa smm game with anewway f grretnmg
Sonra is an example of songs enjoyed by children at
musical play, delightedly busy with singing and playing games
Shona is the lae language from which o comes It is the name
of a Bantu speaking people who live in Zimbabwe, Mozambique,
and Zambia These countries are located in southeastern Africa
Shona speaking children welcome family and guests into
their homes with the greeting soon after they began to speak A
lively game with movement to do with a par ter accompanies the
Go Well and Safely
One of the largest indigenous Afican groups in South Africa is the
Zulu "Hambani hle (Go well and safely) appears to have
been adapted from a popular Chnstian hymn n churches of
AfricanAmericans n the United States The Zulu fondness for
vocal and choral music brought about the acceptance and modifi-
cation of this song
Translation The Creator's work will never be destroyed The
Yonuba people are some of several groups ofpeople that live in
Nigeria in West Africa Yonba music has a great deal of singing
in unison, octaves, and thirds, call and response, and the creation
of complicated rhythm pattems Its popular music is calledjuju
Ise Ohiwa comprises the music of worship
Song: A Ram Sam Sam
Morocco forms a cultural
triangle with Egypt and the
countries of western Africa
Free traveling groups across
these points resulted in bring
ing not only goods, but cultural
conditions The mixture can be
heard in the music
Moroccan music has ceremonia
processionals with line dancing
Instruments used tambourines
A Ram SamSam
A Ram Sam Sam
Gull Gull Guh Gull
Gull Ram Sam Sam
A rafi, A raf
Gull Gull Gul Gull Gull
Ram Sam Sam
Functions and is used for group
Songs are usually sung in un
hand drum, castanets, bells, or
hand claps to punctuate melodic rhythm or reinforce he pulse
. Bowed harp l wth f e strings from the
ts.a Z c Dem ratc c Republcs of Congo
Translation Come by You,
Come by me, Come by Here"
Attrbuted to Lib ea, West
A fca, seat of exportations of
many slaves to the Amencas
Liberia is the principal country
to which English speaking
A cans repatrated following
Translati on Don't cypretty
little girl, don't cry
It has been said that the
rhythm and roll of the dums
impresses the newcomer in
Afca more than
any other Afican sound
Kmnba ah, my Lord,
Kmnbaah, my Lord
Kmnba ah, my Lord
Types ofdrums Dancing,
singing and talking Messages
were sent from village to
village by drums
Manyanga Drum Rhythms
Recorded at Mwansa Tansa-
Translation on The chmbo bird is a symbol of a group of people
In this song, the singers are asking for a favor fom the bird
Although the role of music vares from one cultural group to
another inKeya, there are features thatmost groups share The
ong is the essential musical form
Types of songs Lullabies, children's singing gaes,
songs with historical and military thees, songs used in r tes and
inmtiations, songs ofpialse for individuals and theirpossessions,
and songs sung by healers of the sick
There are songs for everyday occupations Work songs far
grnding flour, herding, plowng, fishing, and hunting Kenyans
often sing in unson The song suggests that Kenya is a land
teeming ,wth wildlife Additionallisteang Malenkaethnic
group Drum Duetand Ewe Dance
Song Everybody Loves a Saturday eight Grade 5
Ghanaan music types were perfomed exclusvely in he roya
court fr chiefs, their families, gets, and public Public muc
canberecratonal or tert m t performed in the evengs at
any social occasion ttallows spontaneous expression Public
musicis communal in whch the members patlicpateas sngers,
dancers, or instmentalists
Instrnientsused rattles,bells, drus, ylophones withwooden
keys and flames
Objective: Play game/ sing song
Obwisana is played in Africa as a stone-passing game
Translation Oh, Gramnma, Ijust hurt my finger on a rock"
Like their tends around the wod, the children
of Ghana enjoy singing games Many of these
games are played in rcles so that children can
seeand hear each other in the happy group of
playmates they have formed Rock and stock
games ae special favorites of chldr through
out Sub-Saaran Aflica
Childremin Ghana learn that each ofth is
important in keeping the o ect going, as the
passing movement is per formed iythacally
andby workingtogether wththe rest of the
group So by playing th1s ga e, your children
can growing usi al awareness -and become a
little mor e stalled at working and playing wth
Ashast to Zulu
MO means Oane
Brmngzg the Ram on th KaTpS
Afrzican Ceotoe Myn Orazn ofLJf onEarth
Have child st in a rcle on the floor, with an
objecting front of each of them (You can use
crumpled pape, shoes, yrn, balls,bean bags, r
any oect thattheycan easily pickupand put
down) Encouage children to sngas theyplay
CD references (South African Music)
Laydysnith Black Manazo, Gflofthe Tortoise
Ladysith B lack Maibazo Journey of Dreams
SweetHoney nthe Roc I Got Shoes
Sweet Honey in the Rock All for Freedom
Cassettelbook-ShaWkeitto the One tht You Lovc
Encata Encyclopedia, 1998 edition
Circling the Globe
World Wide Web locations
A Personal Memoir Invoked by an
The Dark Child by Camara Laye of
Guinea provides a positive portrayal of an
African boy's childhood years. Camara's autobi-
ography depicts his life in the village Kouroussa,
French Guinea during the early 1900s until he
departs to study in France. The original transla-
tion copyright was in 1954; the book was in its
sixth printing in 1999.
^ Curriculum Areas:
Literature and History
Reading interest among high-school
students can be enhanced through The Dark
Child because of its personal, clear and beautiful
prose. The writer gives the reader a sentimental
feeling about his life in Africa that is promised
to create identification and comparisons about
one's personal development from boyhood to
manhood. This assignment may be particularly
stimulating for African-American adolescent
males. There is magic, frustration, indepen-
dence, dependence, love, hate, fear, and sacred
traditions that will intrigue the adolescent reader
and awaken ideas for an exciting opportunity to
write about oneself.
= Guinea Today
Guinea is one of the smaller countries
with 7.1 million people. Guinea has much
potential for economic development because of
its abundant natural resources. It has one-third
of the world's reserve of bauxite, a mineral used
to make aluminum.
Guinea was a colony of
The Dark Child
by Shelton Davis
Background Information about
Camara Laye was born in 1928 to a
family of goldsmiths in Kouroussa, Guinea,
West Africa. He was the oldest of 12 children
and won a scholarship to study in France.
Camara had a special relationship with his
mother and grew up in a huge family with his
father. The Guinean culture and family ways are
different from those in North America. Camara's
father was the head of an innumerable family.
The story of Camara's life was first published in
1953 in French, as L 'Enfant noir
won the Charles Veillon International Prize.
France from the late 1800s until 1958, when it
became an independent nation.
Ir i 36
0 The Lesson
*No Grades Please!
Use The Dark Child as a personal reading and writing lesson offered
to individual students for the purpose of self-study and reflection about the
continent of Africa. No doubt this experience will strengthen the student's
life of literature and bring more purpose to studying. The lesson is designed
to provide personal meaning and intrinsic reward for the student. Students
may choose the person or audience in which they would like to share this
0 Themes and Experiences
* Guinean family traditions in Kouroussa
Working seasons and traditions consume
the family and villagers with customs well
rehearsed. Story telling, song and dance celebra-
tions are the mainstays that build and set apart
the many relationships.
* Schooling from Kouroussa to Paris
Camara was in school for a long time.
And he regarded schooling as a serious matter.
Traditional schooling included farming and life
skills as well as reading and writing. Camara
tells about the magnification of the blackboard,
and how the smallest detail was of utmost
At age fifteen, Camara left home for
Conakry (the Capital city of Guinea) to study at
the technical college. This was after winning a
scholarship examination for serving as an inter-
preter. Later, Camara would hear from the
director of the school that he was offered a
unique opportunity to study in France.
* Transition to adulthood
Passing through successive stages from
infancy to grandparent comes with different
privileges and levels of respect. Reaching old
age and the position of elder in African societies
is an honor. Strictness and responsibilities
accompany each level of the domestic sphere.
* Initiation to a brave manhood
In African societies, boys and girls
undergo ceremonies that mark their transition
and acceptance of roles from childhood to
adulthood. In The Dark Child, attention is given
to Camara's clothing and his separate place to
live in the village representing his move to
adulthood. But, before that, Camara had great
anxiety. "I knew perfectly well that I was going
to be hurt, but I wanted to be a man, and it
seemed to me that nothing could be too painful
if, by enduring it, I was to come to man's
P Instructions to the Student
STEP 1- Read The Dark Child by Camara Laye
Read for sheer enjoyment and develop closeness with the writer.
STEP 2- Record the broad themes and experiences that you thought of while reading
After reading the novel, write a chronicle of exciting, fearful, and positive moments
of your life as you remember them. You can dream.
STEP 3 Review your geographical and social history.
Begin this review by reading about your birth continent. Recall and record your early
STEP 4 Set your story inside geographical and social boundaries.
This may be a great place to begin writing your book.
STEP 5 From the images you now see and feel you can write about yourself, the
history surrounding you, your dreams and aspirations.
Spence (1997) suggests the following: In setting the scene, you decide the range for the
years you consider your adolescence. Again, tell your reader about the world around you by describ-
ing the kinds of clothes young people liked to wear; the entertainment movies, games, sports,
music, etc. popular with your peers; your transportation; the favored food and drink. If you had $5
to spend on whatever you wanted, what would you buy? How about $20? Update your readers on
the historical, political, and cultural events taking place during your adolescence, telling how you
were affected by them (p33).
1. Laye, Camara, The Dark Child, Tran. James Kirkup and Ernest Jones, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
1999. Trans. ofL'Enfant noir. Paris: Plon, 1954.
2. Martin, Phyllis and Meara, Patrick, Africa (3ed), Indiana University Press, Bloomington and
3. Moffat, Mary Jane, Times of Our Lives: A Guide to Writing Autobiography and Memoir, 1996.
4. Spence, Linda, Legacy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History. Swallow Press, Ohio
University Press, Athens, 1997.
Learning More About Africa
Main Objective: Students will gain a closer
understanding of Africa through lessons based
on food and cooking. They will also explore the
culture, climate, geography, and history of one
African country in detail. At the same time, they
will learn about other African countries, through
observation of other students' work.
All students will have been exposed to
some basic facts about Africa including the
geography of the continent and the culture. The
teacher will also spend time discussing the
myths about Africa to rid the students of stereo-
types of Africa.
This project will begin with previous
knowledge given to the students. The students
will then build upon this knowledge to develop a
portfolio on an African nation. The project
evolves around research skills, culminating in a
day set aside for the students to present their
recipes to the rest of the class.
The expected length of this project will
be 2-3 weeks. Of course, you will need to assess
your own class to decide how much time you
All students will be given an outline of
this project. This will give information on
student expectations as well as detailed informa-
tion for each part of the project. The portfolio for
each student will be kept in the classroom. In
addition, each student will receive a set of maps.
Each set will differ slightly due to the origin of
The climate of the continent will be
discussed. Students will have a map of Africa
showing the various climatic zones. They will
use this in their project to show the climate of
the country they will be researching.
In studying culture, students will note the fol-
1. Africans practice different religions
including Islam, Christianity, or traditional
2. Africa has over 700 languages.
3. Education plays a major role in Africa.
4. Honesty is highly valued in Africa.
5. Family life includes the extended family.
This project consists of many parts within it and may be varied according to an individual teacher.
The teacher will provide each student with an outline of the project. He/she will read over and
discuss student expectations and clarify any questions from the students.
1. Each student will choose a recipe from an
African Cookbook. The recipe will be the
foundation for the rest of the project.
2. After the student has chosen a recipe, the
student will tell the teacher two things. First,
what country the recipe is from. Second, what
the recipe is and what source they got it from.
3. Each student will keep a copy of the recipe in
This part will involve researching the culture,
climate, and history of the country where the
recipe is derived. The research will be con-
ducted in the classroom as well as the library.
The teacher will provide resources from the
library, as well as encyclopedias. Students will
also obtain information from the internet.
1. The first research each student is expected to
do is the history of their chosen country.
2. This section will consist of various compo-
nents including: pre-colonial history, coloniza-
tion, independence, and other important events.
3. When complete, the student will receive a
grade for this section. The work will become
part of the portfolio.
1. This section will include:
2. Different aspects will be written about culture
by each student. When completed, it will be
graded and included in the portfolio.
This section is unique. It need not be
written at all. The student may present informa-
tion in a variety of ways.
1. The student may also use a map showing the
different climate zones. Then the student can
describe them, and tell how the climate affects
2. Each student will provide a map showing the
climate zones of their chosen country. On the
map, they should provide a description of each
1. The teacher will provide various maps to
the students including the geographical feature
of Africa and the climate zone.
2. Political Map
Each student is expected to name each
country and it's capital. A blank map and an
answer sheet will be provided.
3. Regional Map
Each student will label different geo-
graphical regions of Africa. Each student will
use the back of the map to write at least two
facts about each country shown.
Time will be set aside to review recipes. On this
day students will be able to ask questions about
their recipes. The teacher will give any help
possible. Students may ask where a product may
be found. If so, suggest possible substitutions, or
refer to stores like Wards, and Mother Earth.
Some helpful hints-
1. Substitute food items like Yucca for Cassava
and apple juice for wine.
2. Omit very small quantities of a seasoning-it
rarely affects the recipe. If the recipe says to fol-
low it completely, do so.
3. Be careful of following a recipe too closely.
Some recipes make enough food for a small
army. Reduce recipe by half if it seems like too
* A coiled basket with lid made by the
Zulu ethnic group of South Africa.
1. Each student will organize their portfolio.
This may take as much as a half day. For those
that are already organized, they may decorate the
front of their portfolio with an African theme.
2. Each student will present their research to the
rest of the class. It may take two or three days
for all the students to make their presentations.
Students will be encouraged to take notes about
the other countries presented.
3. Students will also talk about their recipe.
They are not to go into detail.
1. The project will culminate in the presentation
of the food prepared by the students.
2. Teacher will provide a microwave for reheat-
ing. If you do not have a microwave, you
may want to ask your home economics teacher.
Resources for recipes
2. The Africa News Cookbook
3. The African Cookbook-Bea Sandler. Citadel