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West African Cultural Diversity. Read & fill in 3 Frayer models from pages 84-89: Answer the following questions after your reading & notes are complete: What might be the benefits and challenges of having people in an area speak many different languages?

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West african cultural diversity
West African Cultural Diversity

  • Read & fill in 3 Frayer models from pages 84-89:

  • Answer the following questions after your reading & notes are complete:

    • What might be the benefits and challenges of having people in an area speak many different languages?

    • Compare & contrast the lives of West Africans who live in villages to those who live in cities:

    • How is family life in West Africa changing?

    • How do you think urbanization will affect the traditions of West Africa?

    • Compare a nuclear to an extended family; what’s alike? What’s different?

    • Every culture has stories which are passed down; in West Africa, many of those stories were oral for hundreds of years before writing existed. How does storytelling preserve West African history, values & traditions?

    • What other ways can a culture preserve & pass on its values & traditions?

Key vocabulary
Key Vocabulary

  • Slavery

  • Sovereignty

  • Coup

  • Colonization

  • Griots

  • Multi-ethnic

  • Cultural Diversity

W africa s dominant landscape
W. Africa’s Dominant Landscape

  • savannah

  • Gulf of Guinea

How are the niger nile rivers important to africa
How are the Niger & Nile Rivers important to Africa?

  • This video shows us an ancient site near Timbuktu which dates to 500 BC!

Timbuktu was a very urban area, with specialized jobs for inhabitants.

Timbuktu was twice the size of London in the early Middle Ages.

West africa early civilizations
West Africa Early Civilizations

  • Benin ancient art (bronzes)

  • 1000 years of West African Superpowers video discusses life @ year 1300…and Mensa Musa’s bringing Islam’s advances:

rules for life

a written language and

more efficient trade to Mali & the entire area.

Mali timbuktu video
Mali & Timbuktu Video

  • Timbuktu is a town of 30,000 people.

  • There’s no paved road to Timbuktu (even today!)

  • Mayor boasts that today it’s still a center of ancient writings, including 1114 A.D. book and Qu’ran from 1300’s.

  • Quick look at how Mali became important in 1300’s via another video

Mensa musa
Mensa Musa

  • Name 3 ways Mensa Musa was a great leader for Mali in 1300:

West african cultural diversity


What are some things Ghana is famous for having or doing?


  • As we watch this promotional video made by students in Ghana, note what you learn about its trade, storytelling history and governmental system. Video link

Trade via what 2 forms:

Major trade items:

Special trade system:

Camel caravans & boats on Niger river

Gold, ivory, tools & slaves

Silent barter system which eliminates need to speak many languages to accomplish trade!


  • Also from the video, we learned that Ghana started in 4th century AD

  • Ghana has a strong storytelling tradition

  • The king efficiently taxes everyone entering or leaving the country!

  • Male & female work roles are clearly defined & different

In Ghana, it’s a matriarchal system—sister of king provides next heir!

Who becomes next king?

West african cultural diversity

African Storytelling Traditions

In West Africa, written history is something new. African history was written in European languages during the colonial era beginning in the late 1800s and has been around in Arabic for several centuries before that. Societies in the Sahel and Savanna regions of West Africa have long kept their own history, in their own languages, orally, in the form of epics. Imagine relying on someone's memory to hold your people's history. In many parts of West Africa, this job is carried out by the griot.

Griots — masters of words and music, Tom Hale calls them in his book, Griots and Griottes — have been around for a millennium. Over time, the griots' function has changed as society evolved. Once, the male griots and female griottes were historians, genealogists, advisers to nobility, entertainers, messengers, praise singers — the list goes on. Today, they perform on television and radio and record CDs. Many are popular singers who reinterpret traditional songs, giving new meaning to old words — "time binding," Hale calls it. As performers, griots and griottes are in great demand, not only for ceremonies and parties in West Africa, where they have traditionally appeared, but all around the world. Here in the United States, they tour universities to give insight into West African culture.


West african cultural diversity

The griot profession is inherited, passed on from one generation to the next. "Griots are very different from the rest of society — almost a different ethnic group," says Hale. They are both feared and respected by people in West Africa for their wisdom and talent with words. They can sing your praises, but they can also sing your doom.

In return for their services, griots receive gifts. There is no set fee.They never know what they will get. Sometimes a few coins, sometimes a blanket, sometimes much more. In one reported case, a wealthy admirer gave the Malian griotteKandiaKouyaté a small airplane so that she could fly directly to his airstrip whenever he wanted to hear the praise song she had written for him.

Good griots must have remarkable memories and be ever ready to recite or sing long histories, genealogies, and praise songs. They must also be musically talented. Hale describes their training as comparable to that of receiving a doctoral degree. To become a griot you must learn genealogies and histories, but not just the words, also the music. You can't separate the musical art from the vocal art without losing the overall effect. Griots often play a 21-stringed instrument called a kora. The kora is described as a bridge-harp with two rows of strings, one on either side of the meter-long neck, and a body made of a calabash. The sound of the kora has no American equivalent, and is as unusual as its structure.

West african cultural diversity

What would you predict is the role of women in African Storytelling & History?

Sidikou-Morton, a native of Niger, came to Penn State to do her doctoral thesis on women singers in Niger, Senegal, and Gambia. "The West has said that African women never had a voice. They think that African women never had a voice because they never wrote it down," says Sidikou-Morton. She has been working to write down the songs of griottes and other female singers of West Africa because the people who know these songs are disappearing. "I want my children to know," she says. And she wants to show to the world the voice of African women.

"In African literature, orality is still the most important form of literature on the continent," Sidikou-Morton says, "because it is not everyone who can understand and read French and English. If you compare the oral literature here to the literature of other women in other cultures, you will see similarities. They are saying the same things about what it is like to be a woman, to be a human being.”

West african cultural diversity

Wedding Day Advice for the Bride from a Storytelling & History?Griotte:

Griottes traditionally sing at ceremonies, celebrations, and special occasions. When a woman is to be married, griottes sing to her to prepare her for her new life. They sing to prepare her for the trouble she may encounter in the new marriage, and to reassure her that if it gets too bad, she can come home.

Stop crying, bride. Stop crying and listen to me. If your mother-in-law abuses you, Just cry, but don't say anything. If your sisters or brothers-in-law abuse you, Just cry but don't say anything. If your husband's mother abuses you, Just cry, but don't say anything, But leaving your house is not a crime.

Senegal Storytelling & History?

  • Senegal is 95% Muslim, 5% Christian

  • As a Democracy, it promotes open communication and diversity

  • In 2003, it built 2 tower monuments in honor of the U.S. World Trade Center attacks of 9/11

Travel Channel Video

Ivory coast select one link to study
Ivory Coast Storytelling & History?Select one link to study:

  • BBC Profile page

  • U.S. State Dept. profile

  • History Channel

  • 2010 elections

How did african slavery change
How Did African Slavery Change? Storytelling & History?

  • During the heyday of early European competition (1500’s), slavery was an accepted social institution, and the slave trade overshadowed all other commercial activities on the West African coast. To be sure, slavery and slave trading were already firmly entrenched in many African societies before their contact with Europe. In most situations, men as well as women captured in local warfare became slaves. In general, however, slaves in African communities were often treated as junior members of the society with specific rights, and many were ultimately absorbed into their masters' families as full members. Given traditional methods of agricultural production in Africa, slavery in Africa was quite different from that which existed in the commercial plantation environments of the New World.

Ivory coast senegal s role in african slave trade
Ivory Coast & Senegal’s Role in African Slave Trade Storytelling & History?

  • Another aspect of the impact of the trans-Atlantic slave trade on Africa concerns the role of African chiefs, Muslim traders, and merchant princes in the trade. Although there is no doubt that local rulers in West Africa engaged in slaving and received certain advantages from it, some scholars have challenged the premise that traditional chiefs in the vicinity of the Gold Coast engaged in wars of expansion for the sole purpose of acquiring slaves for the export market. In the case of Asante, for example, rulers of that kingdom are known to have supplied slaves to both Muslim traders in the north and to Europeans on the coast. Even so, the Asante waged war for purposes other than simply to secure slaves. They also fought to pacify territories that in theory were under Asante control, to exact tribute payments from subordinate kingdoms, and to secure access to trade routes--particularly those that connected the interior with the coast.

Slave trade ended because
Slave Trade Ended Because… Storytelling & History?

Humanitarian reasons? Industrial Revolution? Other…

  • Because it took decades to end the trade in slaves, some historians doubt that the humanitarian impulse inspired the abolitionist movement. According to historian Walter Rodney, for example, Europe abolished the trans-Atlantic slave trade only because its profitability was undermined by the Industrial Revolution. Rodney argues that mass unemployment caused by the new industrial machinery, the need for new raw materials, and European competition for markets for finished goods are the real factors that brought an end to the trade in human cargo and the beginning of competition for colonial territories in Africa. Other scholars, however, disagree with Rodney, arguing that humanitarian concerns as well as social and economic factors were instrumental in ending the African slave trade.

  • http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/history/slave-trade.php

Amazing grace
Amazing Grace Storytelling & History?

  • What does this hymn from the 1700’s have to do with the slave trade in Western Africa?

John Newton was a son of a ship captain and earned a living from the slave trade. He came to believe that the slave trade was abominable & worked to ban slavery in Great Britain. He put his feelings of regret & his hope for forgiveness into the words of his hymn Amazing Grace, which begins:

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)That sav’d a wretch like me!I once was lost, but now am found,Was blind, but now I see.

West african cultural diversity

Nigeria Storytelling & History?

Nigeria land of diverse people
NIGERIA: Land of Diverse People Storytelling & History?

Complete 3 Frayer Models from p. 136-141

Answer the following questions after your reading & notes are complete:

  • Identify one unique feature to each of Nigeria’s 3 major ethnic groups.

  • Why did Nigeria’s government think it was necessary to move the country’s capital to Abuja?

  • Which ethnic group tried to separate itself from Nigeria in 1967?

  • How is being a multiethnic country both good and bad for Nigeria?

  • What can Nigerians do in the future to resolve the conflicts in their country?

West african cultural diversity

  • Key Questions Storytelling & History?:

  • In what ways did colonization by Europeans impact West Africa?

  • What’s the significance of oral traditions in West Africa?

  • How important is cultural diversity to West Africa?