We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Aug 7, 2007

15 Days Africa

We have been watching a few movies about Africa lately and it has brought up many issues about the world and human behavior. The sad part is that American's look at the entire continent and call it Africa. Why is it that we regard every country there as interchangeable? We would never say something was just European or Asian. I don't think people would confuse Vietnam and Kirghistan or Germany with Portugal, yet we continue to look at Africa as a monolithic culture people and government.

I first noticed this when I was taking a class on the teaching of social studies (in my last life) when many of the adult students thought it was a waste of time learning all the African countries by name and location. Why teach something to their students when the media and larger world just look at them as one. I couldn't believe that these future teachers were claiming the media as a standard for them to hold. I certainly wasn't going to bring up the underlying racism in what they were saying.

Since then I have done my best to educate myself about different countries in Africa when they come up in the news or in art. If it wasn't for the internet I would be stuck reading heavy anthropological texts because it seems that the idea of Africa as a single place is pervasive. The excuse I here is that there are so many countries with similar sounding names. Oh okay Joan... oh wait your name is Jane.

Before Alder this only served as another spot that I was frustrated with the general population of my country. Now I see it as a great place to model the importance of respect and the joy I have in learning about new places. Alder will know the difference between Zambia and Zimbabwe and not just their position on the map.

There are 54 countries in Africa can you name them?

Some Africa Links

A basic list with links

African Studies Center UPenn

Web resources, annotated

Afropop Worldwide
African music and the influence it has had around the world; there is a section to look by country, there are some non African countries listed.

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