What Teachers Need to Know – Africa Edition

Are you look for an engaging and curated resource to share with your students this year? Check out our newest episodes of “What teachers need to know – Africa Edition” developed by Primary Source, in collaboration with Boston University’s African Studies Center. The podcast offers vital insight for understanding the continent so that you can facilitate deeper learning about the world with your students. Meet subject-matter experts and explore online resources that can help make a complex and dynamic world accessible for K-12 classrooms. 

Africa has disparagingly been referred to as the “Dark Continent,” concealing the fullness and diversity of its history, culture, and humanity. In this episode, we explore stereotypes about Africa and begin the process of dispelling them by listening to underappreciated narratives, showcasing Africa’s vibrancy and global interconnectedness. Hear leading voices push back against the engrained cognitive schemas that have characterized representations of Africa. This episode features Barbara Brown of Boston University’s African Studies Center, Amy Lake, teacher at Lee H. Kellogg School, and ten individuals with intimate connections to life and community throughout Africa. The podcast is an invitation to all educators to nurture students’ critical thinking about the ideas society has taught them about Africa. 

In the second episode, hear about Africa’s global connections that span millennia and have resulted in the development of sophisticated trade networks and cultural hybridity. Examining two global systems of movement and exchange, this episode focuses on the transport of material culture and goods in the Indian Ocean World and the transatlantic slave trade in the Atlantic World. 

Art and culture often are deep expressions of identity and politics. In various contexts in Africa, music has been a potent instrument of social movements. Featuring Bode Omojola, Five College Professor of Music,  and Nathaniel Braddock, musician & teacher, this episode explores recent historical and contemporary examples of protest music throughout Africa. It highlights how musicians in social movements expressed their anticolonial, antiapartheid, and anti-corruption sentiments through music. 

African decolonization has a complex history, involving resistance against and liberation from European colonial subjugation. In this episode, we examine the political and cultural interplay between race, resistance, and decolonization across Africa while considering ways to teach about racism in classrooms today.

In the larger context of development in Africa, often criticized for its colonial underpinnings, African women demonstrate resilience and empowerment in ways that often go unrecognized.
One visible form of empowerment is where women address community needs as leaders and visionaries. In this episode, we explore the intersection of race, gender, and work through stories of women who are creatively shaping their fields and creating change.

Climate change, habitat loss, and the endangerment of wildlife has brought about international interventions and conservation efforts throughout Africa. However, policies and programs are not without their problems. Throughout Africa, questions of environmental and climate justice are raised when communal lifestyles are threatened by initiatives that are not designed with a mindfulness of the needs of people throughout Africa. In this episode, we explore the human toll taken by climate change and sometimes even by efforts to protect the environment.

There are over fifty cities throughout Africa with a population of more than one million inhabitants. However, urban spaces tend to be left out of America’s collective imagination of the continent. Cities are cosmopolitan places where ideas circulate, people mix and mingle, trends are set, and influences of innumerable origins meld together. In this episode, we explore the experiences of young people in urban settings throughout Africa. We focus on the ways youth cultures can affirm a vision of Africa that cuts against the grain of stereotypes and dominant narratives.

In the aftermath of violence and oppression, nations face the dilemma of confronting past suffering while also rebuilding and preventing future injustice. There is no formula for avoiding vengeance, soliciting forgiveness, and exacting truth and justice. However, recent history offers examples of societies that have navigated these quandaries. In the wake of apartheid in South Africa and genocide in Rwanda, both societies developed legal, political, and cultural campaigns meant to expose and record oppression and violence while attempting to restore the wounded nations. In this episode, we explore the attempts at healing South Africa and Rwanda. We focus on the pain and hope that are built into campaigns for truth, justice, and reconciliation.

Africa has been home to numerous states and civilizations for millennia. Along the Nile Valley – in modern-day Egypt and Sudan – is Nubia, the site of multiple complex and sophisticated political, military, artistic, and architectural achievements that are indigenous to Africa. However, Nubia has been the source of misunderstanding, forgetting, and erasure in the Global North as archaeologists have downplayed and diminished the standing of Nubia in the ancient world. In this episode, we explore the vastness of Nubian history while also examining the racial politics of knowledge and memory. We focus on the way Nubia has been misunderstood and how classrooms can be sites where Africa’s ancient civilizations can be remembered and appreciated in renewed and dynamic ways.

The study of Africa is not limited to one continent. Africa itself is entwined with the rest of the world through politics, cultures, foodways, and technologies. Also, over the course of centuries, African and African descendant people have taken root around the world. The story of the African diaspora intersects with the history and legacy of slavery and imperialism but also with the search for economic and educational opportunity. The African diaspora brings into focus the way people survive, adapt, flourish, forge new identities, and take root, even when displaced from an ancestral home. In this episode, we explore the African diaspora, considering its origins and the way communities outside of Africa maintain a sense of Africanness in their forms of expression and communication.

Museums make the world of human creativity and expressiveness accessible to the public. It is through curation and display that museums play an important role in constructing meaning and understanding of Africa’s histories, societies, and belief systems. Throughout Europe and the United States, there are museums exhibiting material culture originating in Africa. Yet, the history of “exhibiting Africa” intersects with colonial exploitation and is fraught with problems. From theft and coercion to control over narrative formation, there are numerous critical questions that must be addressed in order to understand what is found in museums. In this episode, we examine the history of how African cultural products made their way into Western museums and discuss the politics and possibilities of reckoning with this history today.

Africa has long been associated with disease and illness, at the expense of widespread recognition of the continent’s history with healing and medicine. Reports of malaria, yellow fever, ebola, and HIV from travelers, colonial personnel, and contemporary media have long eclipsed an understanding of the continent’s contributions to health and science from its herbal pharmacopeia through 21st century laboratory research. In this episode, we examine the associations with Africa and disease while also recognizing the innovations that are owed to the continent.


A podcast featuring conversations and stories by students of African Studies. We center Africa and embrace the pluralism of perspectives, approaches, and projects within African Studies. Join us as we dig into the big, important questions, the unrivaled history, and the leading thinkers of Africa.

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Africa Past and Present

Africa Past and Present is a podcast about history, culture, and politics in Africa and the diaspora. Launched in 2008 at Michigan State University by historians Peter Alegi and Peter Limb, it is the longest-running African studies podcast in the world. Monthly episodes feature interviews with scholars and practitioners from a wide range of academic disciplines and perspectives. Our mission is to broaden the availability and accessibility of cutting-edge knowledge relating to African experiences and to do so in a down-to-earth and informed manner. Africa Past and Present is produced by Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences and supported by the Department of History.

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Three Podcasts from African Arguments

African Arguments is proud to partner on three podcast series:

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African Folktales podcast

This Nigerian-made podcast explores stories and myths from across the continent. After the telling of each story, the narrator traces its geographic origins, the tribe where it originated, and, finally, describes the characters introduced in it. If you pay attention, you can hear African philosophy about the creation of the universe in many of these stories.

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