Introduction to African History





In order to teach African history effectively, there are a few key understandings in content to keep in mind.


  1. Africa is and has always been connected—a part of the world
    • With the Middle East (from 400 CE)
    • With Asia across the Indian Ocean (from before 800 CE)
    • With Europe across the Mediterranean (from 800 CE)
    • And later with the Americas through multiple exchanges in trade and culture
  2. Africa has a long history
  3. Africa is diverse
    • religion
    • landscapes
    • wealth
    • politics
    • history
    • clothing
    • music
    • ethnicity. . . and the relative importance attached to ethnicity
    • urban/rural
  4. Geography matters


Good Pedagogy on Africa Generally Benefits From:


  1. Recognizing the depth and breadth of misconceptions
    about the continent
  2. Compelling visuals
  3. “Meeting Africans”—i.e., hearing African voices
    • in person
    • in primary sources
    • in literature
    • on film
  4. Going for depth of learning, even when you have very limited time


Here are some resources to help students recognize common misconceptions about the continent.


Africa: True or False?

African and European Images of Each Other

Historical Fiction on Africa