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exploring african culture
Goals Get Started Learning Activities Extensions
Getting Started Activity Menu

Activity One: African Myths
Activity Two: Everyday Life

Activity Three: Food in Africa
Activity Four: Art in African Culture

Activity Five: Indigenous Religions
Activity Six: Musical Reflections

"I will tell you something about stories... They aren't just entertainment...They are all we have... to fight off illness and death. You don't have anything if you don't have the stories."
-Leslie Marmon Silko, epigraph to Ceremony (1977)

This quote about storytelling in Africa illustrates the importance of oral tradition in African culture.

The "African Storytelling: Oral Traditions" section of the Central Oregon Community College Web site is a good place to learn about the importance of the oral traditions in African culture.
http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum211/afrstory.htm

Send students to this site to learn about oral traditions in Africa. (If finding time for students to go online is a problem, you may choose to print the page ahead of time.)

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Activity One: African Myths

In this lesson students will learn about the role of storytelling in the African culture.
    1. After students have read the information on oral traditions discuss the following questions with the class:

      What role does oral tradition play in the African culture?

      What role does oral tradition play in our culture?

      African myths were designed to teach and entertain. Ask students what fills that role in our society.

      Ask students to think about family stories. What stories are told in your house about your relatives?

      Ask students how many generations back in time their family stories reach.

    2. Write the following elements of the African myth/folklore on the board:

      Importance placed on nature/wildlife

      May explain an historic event

      May contain moral instruction

      Entertainment value

    3. Classroom Connect's Africa Quest Web site at
    http://quest .classroom .com /archive /africaquest1998 /start/pg00 545.htm contains a collection of myths which were collected during their African trek. Read aloud to your class the myth from Mangola, Tanzania. As you read the myth, ask students to refer to the list of elements of the African myth and record examples as they are contained in the myth.

    4. Students will read examples of African folklore on the PBS AFRICA Web site.
    http://www .pbs.org/ africa/ explore Choose one of the regions in this section, click on people, and then go to folklore.

    5. After students have selected a myth, or folktale they will complete the following tasks:


      Write a summary of the myth, or story.

      Explain how the elements of the African myth, or story were incorporated into the myth they chose.

      What was entertaining about the myth, or story?

      What did the myth, or story teach them about African culture?

      How could they apply the myth, or story to their own life?

    6. Have students choose a myth, or story to share with the class.

    7. Tell students that they will not be reading, but will be telling the story to the class.

    8. Discuss the differences between reading a story aloud from text and telling a story. (Students may choose to create and include a "call and response" element described in the Oregon Community College Web site.)

    9. Provide time for students to share their story with the class.

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