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Series Info

Episodes: 9

Length: 60 min.

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12, Professional Development

Social Studies

Teacher's Guide


The Africans

Look back into the history of Africa with scholar Ali Mazrui to examine major influences on this complex continent: indigenous heritage, Western culture, and the Islamic religion. This series explores in depth Africa’s geography, history, anthropology, and religions. Discover the rich diversity of Africa and confront the problems that have resulted from different forms of government.

Episode Guide

1. The Nature of a Continent— Geography’s influence on history is the topic of this episode, which explores the roles that water, desert, and equatorial climate have played in developing African culture and civilization.

2. A Legacy of Lifestyles— What constitutes “family” in African culture? This segment examines matrilineal, patrilineal, and polygamous traditions as well as the impact of modern cities on family ties.

3. New Gods— The roles of Christian missionaries, Western secularism, Muslim sects, Egyptian pharaohs, and native religions are discussed in visits to Senegal, Zaire, and Egypt.

4. Tools of Exploitation— This program traces the colonial economic legacy, the development of slavery, and European control of Africa’s natural resources, with special attention to the roles played by Belgium and Great Britain.

5. New Conflicts— Urbanization, warrior traditions, European-created national boundaries, the Islamic jihad tradition, and nationalist movements are problems of Africa’s post-colonial period, examined in this episode.

6. In Search of Stability— In a continent where more than 70 coups have taken place in the last 30 years, the question of governing effectively is critical. This segment compares African military regimes, one-party states, Marxism in Mozambique, and the styles of the presidents of Tanzania and Zaire.

7. A Garden of Eden in Decay?— More than 70 million Africans suffer from malnutrition while  their countries export food to Europe. Economic and agricultural failures and successes are examined in Algeria, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.

8. A Clash of Cultures— In every area of life — dress, behavior, law, worship, and language — Africans have a triple heritage that often sends conflicting signals. The African struggle to evolve new, effective, and essentially African ways of doing things is the topic of this episode.

9. Global Africa— Africa’s role in international politics and economics, from U.N. participation to cobalt production and the political crisis in South Africa, is the focus of this concluding episode. Other issues include the International Monetary Fund, food aid, and tourism.

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