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LINK: Social Studies in Action Home Image of a middle school student.
LINK: Exploring Geography Through African History Home
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Classroom Profile | Lesson Background

Read this information to better understand the lesson shown in the video.

Content: A Brief Overview of African History
Africa is the second largest continent in the world; its 53 countries make up one-fifth of the Earth's landmass. Africa's wildlife, climate, and economy are affected by the equator, which runs through the middle of the continent. Africa is surrounded by water and, until the natural formation of the Suez Canal, it was connected to Asia. Its notable land features include Mt. Kilimanjaro, Lake Victoria, Serengeti National Park, the Sahara Desert, and the Nile River. Africa is known for its diverse animal kingdom, including elephants, lions, zebras, antelopes, and chimpanzees, and its natural resources, such as gold and diamonds.

The following historical periods and events were highlighted in the video lesson.

Students working together.Bantu Migrations (c. 500 B.C.-A.D. 1500)
The Bantu people are believed to have originated in Cameroon. About 500 B.C., the Bantu left an area around the Benue River, a tributary of the Niger River, and moved into the Congo Basin. Migrations of Bantu-speaking people, the largest migrations in history, took these people and their iron-based technology east and south of the rain forest regions near the equator. The Bantu established kingdoms in eastern, central, and southern Africa. Bantu groups in southeastern Africa established the Mwene Mutapa Empire, known to the Europeans as the Monomotapa Empire, with its spectacular buildings at Great Zimbabwe. Muslim culture was brought to eastern Africa through trade between the Bantu groups and the Middle East. As their population grew, the Bantu people, who were excellent farmers, moved south and east. The Sahara Desert in the north deterred them moving there.

Spread of Islam (c. 650-1000)
Muslim refugees from the Arab Peninsula first introduced Islam to the African people early in the seventh century. Islam spread into North, West, and East Africa, where it met and often mixed with the native African cultures. Around 800 A.D., camel caravans began crossing the Sahara. These Muslim traders brought salt and other goods, such as horses, cloth, and swords, from the Mediterranean region to the rulers of Ghana who, in return, supplied gold and ivory. Around the year 1050, Muslim Arabs also crossed the Red Sea and annexed the Somali coast from the established Christian kingdom of Ethiopia.

West African Trading Empires (c. 800-1600)
The camel made travel through the Sahara possible, and with travel came trade. In particular, gold, salt, and agricultural products were traded between kingdoms north of the Sahara and the kingdom of Ghana to the southwest. Ghana was a powerful empire built on trade. Ghana was succeeded in the 1200s by the empire of Mali, which was ruled by Muslims. The kingdom of Songhai emerged from Mali and expanded northeast along the Niger River to the important trading city and religious center of Timbuktu. These trading empires allowed Muslim traders to interact and exchange ideas with Africans and were largely responsible for the spread of Islam throughout Africa.

Swahili Trading States (c. 1200-1500)
Swahili is an Arabic word that means "coastal area." The Swahili city-states along East Africa's coast were established in the thirteenth century by Arab settlers as trading towns. They traded with the Middle East for glass, pearls, and fabric, and with Asian centers such as China for silk and porcelain. They also traded tortoiseshell, ivory, ebony, and spices in exchange for rugs from Persia; spices, rice, cotton, and cloth from India; and ceramics, cloth, weapons, and glass from Arabia. Swahili is the name of the language that developed out of contact between Bantu-speaking Africans and Arab traders.

Turkish Empire (c. 1450-1922)
The Turkish Empire, also called the Ottoman Empire, extended the influence of the Muslim faith in North Africa during the sixteenth century by conquering many northern African city-states, including Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Egypt. Ottoman traders brought gold and salt to this region and returned with metal-ware, cloth, horses, and glass. The empire reached its peak in the seventeenth century and officially ended at the conclusion of World War I.

Slave Trade (c. 1500-1880s)
In the sixteenth century, Europeans found that the most profitable trade was not in gold, ivory, and commodities, but in humans from West Africa. Africans were sold into slavery to work on thriving plantations in the Americas. Slave trade to the Americas persisted for almost 300 years, and by the eighteenth century, more than 20 million Africans had already been captured and traded as slaves.

Students working together.

European Colonialism (1880s-1960s)
During this period, often called the Age of Imperialism, many European nations claimed territory and established colonial rule in Africa. Colonies were usually developed for economic reasons: European nations wanted Africa's raw materials and also wanted to create new markets for their manufactured goods. Spain, Italy, the Ottoman Empire, the Boer (Dutch), Germany, Belgium, Portugal, France, and Great Britain all had colonies in Africa.

Independence of Many African Nations (1957 to the present)
Colonial rule in Africa was characterized by segregation and racial prejudice. Not surprisingly, it was met with uprisings and rebellions on the part of many native Africans. In 1953, after signing an agreement with Great Britain, its former mother country, Sudanese parliamentary candidates won a clear majority and established an independent government. In a peaceful turnover of power in 1954, Sudan became the first African nation to win its independence. Within the next 10 years, colonial rule ended in nearly all of the remaining colonies.

Teaching Strategy: Using a Multi-text Approach
The multi-text approach involves using several resources as research tools: a variety of textbooks, atlases, travel guides or other books, or a media-rich library. The multi-text approach allows teachers greater flexibility in teaching or introducing a topic, and can be especially useful in lessons that focus on broad topics, such as African history and geography. Because history, literature, or science texts can be excellent resources for teaching about geography and culture, for example, the multi-text approach is an effective strategy for an integrated curriculum. It also lets students approach even a difficult topic through a familiar lens (i.e., learning about a culture by tracing its history or geography) and often helps them to engage with content at a deeper level because they have more freedom in choosing texts. Finally, the multi-text approach lets teachers provide a range of tools for different levels of learners.

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