Unit 5 study guide: The Civilizations of Africa lesson 1: The Impact of Prejudice on History

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Comparative Civilizations 12 Ms. J. Liew


The Civilizations of Africa
LESSON 1: The Impact of Prejudice on History (handouts)

Terms to Learn:

voertrekkers Zulu Battle of Blood River

Maxim gun Matabele Bantu

Mapungubwe Great Zimbabwe
Study Questions:

  1. What are some of the sources of our stereotypes about Africa?

  2. How do things like bias, prejudice and stereotyping impact our (mis)understanding of history?

  3. What advantages did the Dutch colonists of Africa have on their side? What challenges did they face? How had native Africans overcome those same challenges?

  4. Describe the violent encounters between African tribes and European settlers.

  5. How do the ruins of Mapungudwe and Great Zimbabwe help to illustrate the way that prejudices can impact our study of history?

  6. How have archaeologists and historians tried to correct some of the inaccurate historical theories from Africa’s racist past?

LESSON 2: African Geography (handouts, map made in class)

Terms to Learn:

Limpopo River sorghum millet

smallpox malaria
Study Questions:

  1. How does geography help to explain why Europeans had difficulty settling Africa?

  2. How did African cattle help Native Africans resist smallpox?

  3. How did geography influence African culture? How did this culture help them to survive and avoid problems, like malaria?

  4. How did European culture put them at a disadvantage when it came to settling and surviving in Africa?

  5. Where are the civilizations that we have studied located in Africa? Connect their territories to any geographic features (e.g. lakes, rivers) that may be nearby.

LESSON 3: The Kingdoms of Northeast Africa (Kush and Axum) (handouts, pp. 7-9)

Terms to Learn:

Kingdom of Kush Meroe Kingdom of Axum

Study Questions:

  1. Connect each African civilization to its approximate time period and to the modern nations which now occupy its former territory.

  2. How was Kush influenced by Egypt? In what ways was Kush unique?

  3. How was Axum influenced by outside forces?

  4. Summarize the achievements of Kush and Axum.

LESSON 4: East African City-States of the Swahili Civilization (pp. 21-23, handouts)

Terms to Learn:

dhow Swahili monsoon winds (kazkazi/kuzi)

Kanbalu Zinj

Study Questions:

  1. What trade goods helped the city-states of the Swahili Civilization establish themselves as desirable trading partners? What goods did they receive in exchange?

  2. How did Arabs, Persians and Muslims influence the Swahili city-states?

  3. Describe the achievements of the Swahili civilization.

  4. Discuss how different historians’ interpretation of facts and/or presentation of information might impact your understanding of a region’s history.

LESSON 5: Central African Civilizations (Great Zimbabwe & Mutapa Empire) (pp. 11-18, handouts)

Key Terms:

E. S. J. van Graan Karl Mauch Cecil Rhodes

Gertrude Caton-Thompson Mutota/Mwene Mutapa

Study Questions:

  1. How does the archaeological site at Mapungubwe help to illustrate the impact of prejudice on African history?

  2. Describe the civilization of Great Zimbabwe (e.g. size, economy, etc.). Why would this site be considered an important architectural achievement? How was the structure built?

  3. Briefly describe the theories about the origins of Great Zimbabwe. How have historical theories about this site changed over time?

  4. Describe the spiritual beliefs that allowed the kings of Great Zimbabwe to maintain their power.

  5. What role has the oral tradition played in our knowledge of African history?

  6. Describe the rise and fall of the Mutapa Empire.

LESSON 6: West African Kingdoms (Ghana, Mali and Songhay) (handouts)

Terms to Learn:

caravan Sundiata Keita Mansa Musa Hajj (also spelled Hadj) Berbers Sunni Ali Askia Muhammad

Study Questions:

  1. Identify the geographic advantages and challenges faced by civilizations in West Africa.

  2. Explain the importance of the Trans-Saharan trade route. What goods were traded and how did this trade contribute to the wealth and power of the West African kingdoms?

  3. In what ways was Islam an important influence on the kingdoms of Mali and Songhay? How did religion help to connect West Africa with other parts of the world?

  4. What factors contributed to the rise of the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhay?

  5. What factors contributed to the decline and fall of the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali and Songhay?

LESSON 7: African Innovations and Architecture (handouts, pp. 1-7)

Terms to Learn:

rammed earth thatch fractal scaling

Study Questions:

  1. To what extent can it be said that human civilization would not have been possible without African innovation?

  2. To what extent were African architectural achievements the result of outside influence rather than unique, local developments?

  3. What cultures had the greatest influence on African architecture?

  4. Give some examples of great achievements in African architecture.

  5. What materials did Africans use to construct their buildings?

LESSON 8: The Development of Language and Writing (pp. 10-11, notes)

Terms to Learn:

Bantu Ge’ez Creole

Study Questions:

  1. Why are many Africans multilingual?

  2. How many languages exist in Africa? In what ways are some of the languages related? Consider things like language families, colonialism and Creoles when answering this question.

  3. How did the Bantu family (Niger-Congo/Congo-Kordofanian) of languages spread throughout Africa?

  4. Describe the development of written language in Africa.

  5. How did colonialism impact languages in Africa?

  6. What is the state of language in Africa today?

LESSON 9: African Art (notes)

Terms to Learn:

pictographs petroglyphs masquerade

Kente cloth

Study Questions:

  1. What are some of the characteristics commonly seen in African art?

  2. Why do so few examples of ancient African art survive?

  3. Why might Africa be considered the birthplace of art?

  4. To what extent is African art designed to be a more active rather than passive experience?

  5. In what ways are African art traditions similar to those of other parts of the world? In what ways are they unique?

LESSON 10: Indigenous African Religions (handouts)

Terms to Learn:

traditional indigenous syncretism

rain-maker healer/herbalist/diviner

Study Questions:

  1. Why might it be preferable to refer to African religions as indigenous rather than traditional?

  2. To what extent are indigenous African religions similar to the world’s other major faiths?

  3. Describe some of the commonly held beliefs of African religions (e.g. role of spirits).

  4. What roles to African religious leaders play in their faith?

  5. Describe spiritual medical practices in Africa. How have attitudes towards traditional African medicine changed over time?

  6. According to African creation stories, what is God like? Why is there suffering and death in the world? What is the relationship between God and humanity like?

LESSON 11: The Spread of Christianity and Islam in Africa (notes)

Terms to Learn:

proselytizing religion Coptic Christian Ethiopian Orthodox Church

Kingdom of Kongo Beatrice Kimpa Vita Antonine church

African Independent Church Abolitionist missionary

Study Questions:

  1. Describe the spread of Christianity and Islam in Africa. Be able to roughly sketch out where and when each religion spread (e.g. know the century rather than an exact time period).

  2. What circumstances helped/hindered the spread of Christianity and Islam throughout Africa (e.g. geography)?

  3. Describe the methods used by Christians to spread their religion in Africa. Describe the methods used by Muslims to spread their religion in Africa.

  4. Explain the connection between Christianity and Islam and the slave trade.

  5. How did colonialism contribute to the spread of Christianity in Africa?

  6. What role did trade play in the spread of Islam in Africa?

  7. For what reasons did Islam spread slowly, but successfully in Africa?

LESSON 12: The Rise of Colonialism (notes)

Terms to Learn:

white man’s burden imperialism colonialism

Study Questions:

  1. What factors attracted Europeans to Africa? Why might they choose to colonize the region instead of trade?

  2. Explain how the slave trade had weakened Africa, leaving it vulnerable to European colonization.

  3. What advantages allowed Europeans to colonize Africa so quickly?

  4. Explain how Portuguese trade and exploration in Africa laid the foundation for European colonialism.

  5. What were conditions like for Africans during the colonial period?

  6. How can Africa’s present-day challenges be traced back to the colonial period?

  7. How did imperialism contribute to the outbreak of WWI?

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