Bingo! The African Connection
Each player is to circulate around the room, seeking people who can answer yes to a question. When a person who can answer yes to a question is found, s/he puts his or her initials in the question box. (To avoid having one student sign every box, the initials of at least five different people must appear on the game card, each in a different question box). The winner is the first person to get all his or her boxes initialed.
This game illustrates the variety of connections we have with Africa. Some of the connections are through the slave trade; these connections illustrate that people brought here from Africa brought more than their labor, they also enriched U.S. culture. The historical clues in the game merely offer pointers to broader influences African immigrants have had on U.S. life. Of course, the U.S. also has more contemporary connections. An excellent resource on our links is Africanisms in American Culture, ed., Joseph Hollaway.
- Ghana and the Cote d’Ivoire are major producers of cacao, the beans from which cocoa and chocolate are made.
- Anansi, the spider, is a Ghanaian trickster character; when Africans came o the Caribbean, the character became “Aunt Nancy.”*
- This clue is simply to remind ourselves that Egypt is part of Africa and that regions to the south and west of Egypt influence ancient Egyptian history.
- At one level, all of us have African ancestors; at another level, of course, Africans are the ancestors of Africa-Americans and many Latin Americans.
- Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is a Cinderella story from ancient Zimbabwe. Buildings from the 15th century that are still standing today serve as background in the book’s illustrations.
- Nigeria is the fifth-largest oil supplier to the U.S., selling more than double what Iraq and Kuwait combined provide us.
- Madagascar and the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania are major producers of cloves in the world.
- Diamonds are mined in a number of African countries, including South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- The banjo is mainly of African origin, brought over by Africans who came as slaves to the United States.
- Jazz, a Ki-Kongo word, has a strong African musical influence, as does other music and dance forms (such as rock n’ roll, the Charleston, and the rumba).
- You may know of famous people who have traveled to Africa (Jesse Jackson, the Pope, Whitney Houston) or perhaps someone from your community has traveled to Africa as a tourist, Peace Corps volunteer, or with a church group.
- Nelson Mandela was elected the president of South Africa in 1994, after the first democratic elections in the history of that country.
- “Guy,” “phony,” and many other words have their origins in the Wolof, a language widely spoken in Senegal.
- Brer Rabbit is a character from West African folklore. Uncle Remus stories closely follow Hausa stories from Nigeria, which led one scholar to ask, “Was Uncle Remus a Hausaman?”
- Firestone Tires had one of the largest rubber plantations in the world in Liberia.
- Coffee originated in Ethiopia. Today, a number of African countries produce coffee, among them Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
- “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is South African in origin, from the Zulu people. The song has a metaphorical meaning: the lion represents the black people of South Africa who are sleeping but will arise in freedom.
- Kwanzaa is a holiday which celebrates African-American culture. The world kwanzaa is derived from the Swahili words kwanza which means “first” and refers to the celebration of the first fruits of the harvest (mazao).
- Many 20th-century artists, such as Picasso, Miro, and Modigliani, have borrowed ideas from African artists.
- Major gold mines are located in South Africa, and Ghana’s mines have been famous in Europe since the Renaissance.
- Baton-twirling has African as well as Anglo-American roots.
- Okra, some types of yams, black-eyed peas, watermelons, and other foods were introduced to the Americans by people who came as slaves from Africa.
- Ethiopian, Kenyan, and Tanzanian athletes are among the fastest long-distance runners in the world.
- Liberia was established as a country by former slaves from the U.S. seeking their freedom.
- Many people think of wildlife first when they think of Africa. While the wildlife is splendid, it is only found in limited areas. Many Africans have never seen big game—unless they go to a zoo or a game park!
*The books and stories mentioned here are available through the Boston University African Outreach Program, along with other resources for teaching about Africa.