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Master of the Killer Ants

Program Overview


Ant NOVA reveals the spiritual rituals of the African Mofu people as they go through their harvest cycle, and follows the efforts of the tribe to bring an ant to its village to rid a home of termites.

The program:

  • introduces the Mofu people of the Mandara Mountains in the central African country of Cameroon.

  • notes the end of the Mofu's dry season, and the community's task of sowing before the rainy season the sorghum seeds they depend on for food.

  • presents the prayer used to call the killer red ant, jaglavak, to help drive out the termites.

  • reviews the social structure of a termite colony—soldiers defend the mound, workers feed and care for the young and take care of the nest's construction, winged ants leave the nest to start new colonies, and the queen lays eggs.

  • provides details about the termite queen.

  • shows some of the rituals of the Mofu people, including a rain stone ceremony used in response to the draught.

  • describes the Mofu's belief in a symbiotic relationship between a species of bird and ant that depend on each other for sorghum seeds.

  • revisits the problem of the termite to find that the ant has not come in answer to their prayers, so children are sent to find the killer red ant.

  • shows how the children gather insects for food, which are later prepared and eaten.

  • recounts the finding and gathering of the jaglavak.

  • identifies characteristics of the red ant—it is an army ant and a predator with great strength and tenacity.

  • details the attack of the jaglavak on the termite colony, noting the strategic plan of immobilizing the much larger soldier termites and driving the queen away from the nest.

  • follows the Mofu as they complete their harvest rituals, including gathering and threshing the sorghum, removing the skin from the seeds, and stocking the granaries.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after program is recorded off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Master of the Killer Ants
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