English 202: African Literatures

Presentation Guidelines

Once during the quarter you will give a short presentation (about 10 minutes) on a topic related to the reading. The information you are expected to provide the class is pretty basic; you should be able to find enough through basic reference works (encyclopedias and the like) along with web resources, especially those listed below. The format of the presentation is up to you. You may just talk, or use pictures, diagrams, maps, tape recordings, or whatever other audio visual tools you think are appropriate. If you will need technology beyond what our classroom already has in it, please let me know a few days in advance so I can request it from TSS.

I have selected about 10 topics from the list below that I would like us to focus on. They are the ones marked with ● below. Other topics are also listed, with my proposed questions about them. If you prefer to do your presentation on one of the other topics listed, please see me.

    Topic Week Day
    1 Fri
    2 Tue
    2 Wed
    3 Tue
    3 Thu
    3 Fri
    4 Mon
    4 Tue
    4 Wed
    4 Thu
    6 Mon
    6 Tue
    7 Tue
    7 Wed
    7 Thu
    8 Mon
    8 Wed
    8 Thu
    9 Mon
    9 Tue

    Your presentation should answer the questions posed here and provide a little more information on the topic, following from these basic questions but going a bit more in depth, providing interesting details and illuminating information. There may be times when you are unable to answer the exact questions I’ve listed; in those cases, use them as a guide to the kind of information I am looking for and do your best to provide a good introduction to the topic.

    1. The Historical Sundiata Week 1 Friday
      1. Give the approximate dates Sundiata lived.
      2. Give the approximate extent and location of territory he ruled.
      3. Give the approximate dates of the empire he founded.
      4. Describe some important political, economic and/or cultural influences and connections with other parts of the world (trade, cultural exchange, diplomacy, war, etc.).
      5. What were some typical occupations of people who lived in his empire?
      6. Bonus points: What did the place look like? What sort of houses did they live in? In short, what was it like to live in Mali in the 1200s?

      Some Useful Links

    2. Precolonial West African kingdoms.
      1. List some of the most important kingdoms.
      2. Give their approximate dates.
      3. Describe their location.
      4. Describe some important features of one or more of these societies (other than Mali). Here are some topics to consider:
        • political system
        • economic system and main sources of wealth
        • social system including major divisions such as classes or castes; also kinship
        • cultural features such as arts, learning, religious beliefs, etc.
      5. Bonus points for information on the role of women in any of these societies.

      Some Useful Links

    3. Griots (aka jeli, jali, djeli, jeliya, djeliya, etc.)
      1. What is a griot?
      2. Where (what countries, what ethnic groups) are griots part of the culture?
      3. What are their social roles?
      4. In what contexts do they perform their roles?
      5. What accompaniment do they use in performing?
      6. Bonus points: How has the role of griots changed since colonialism?

      Some Useful Links

    4. Achebe biography
      1. Family background
      2. Education
      3. Major works
      4. Role in Nigerian Civil War
      5. Where is he now?
      6. Bonus points for some illuminating quotes

      Some Useful Links

      • A page of links from Cora Agatucci’s class in African literature at Central Oregon Community College. This should have more than enough material to complete the assignment.
      • Interview with Achebe in Failure Magazine, 2001.
    5. Igbo culture
      1. Location
      2. Numbers
      3. Religion
      4. Social/political structure ("acephalous" villages)
      5. Bonus points for info and ritual dances

      Some Useful Links

      • A page of links on Chinua Achebe from Cora Agatucci’s class in African literature at Central Oregon Community College. Scroll down to the “Related Links” section for many links on Igbo culture. This should have more than enough material to complete the assignment.
      • Igbo Colanut Ritual, a detailed discussion of this ritual that is portrayed or mentioned repeatedly in Arrow of God.
      • Information on Igbo culture from the Art and Life in Africa Project at the University of Iowa.
      • G. I. Jones Photographic Archive of Southeast Nigerian Culture, at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Lots of photos from different Igbo groups.
      • The Igbo of South East Nigeria. Links to several good, short summaries of different aspects of Igbo culture and history, prepared by graduate students at the Queen's University of Belfast (Ireland). This is Section Two of The Colonial and Postcolonial History and Literature of Nigeria, which in turn is part of The Imperial Archive, “a site dedicated to the study of Literature, Imperialism, Postcolonialism.”
    6. British colonial rule in Africa
      1. What parts of Africa did Britain control?
      2. When was the first British colony established?
      3. When did the last nation colonized by Britain achieve independence?
      4. What are some characteristics of colonial rule in Africa? For example:
        • What were some of the main motivating factors for colonization?
        • How did Africans respond to colonization?
        • What were some important points of contention between Africans and Europeans?
      5. Bonus points: What was “indirect rule”?
        • Why was it practiced?
        • Contrast with other systems of colonial administration.
        • Why was it a problem in Igbo society?

      Some Useful Links

      • Africa & Europe (1800-1914), part of a BBC program called The Story of Africa. This section has multiple pages on various aspects of European colonialism in Africa and African response and resistance. Don’t just read the first page; follow the links on the right to more detailed information on specific features of European colonialism in Africa.
      • The section on Independence, also from the BBC’s The Story of Africa, has a timeline that will provide the answer to question b, above.
      • Colonial Exploration and Conquest in Africa, a module in the online Exploring Africa curriculum from MATRIX - The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University. Some of it is assignments, like “write in your Student Journal,” which you can ignore, but there is also a lot of good basic background on colonialism in Africa.
      • Wikipedia article on the “Scramble for Africa,” the competition among European powers to seize control of Africa for their own enrichment and political power. Includes sections on each of the European colonial powers, with links to articles on the individual African nations they tried to control.
      • The article Africa, 1914-1945, from the Encyclopedia of World History (2001) has a brief, useful section on direct and indirect rule.
    7. Age grades/Age sets
      1. What is an “age set” or “age grade”?
      2. In what societies are such groups found?
      3. What are some of the functions that age grades or age sets serve?
      4. Who might belong to an age set or age grade?
      5. Bonus: How have age grades changed since colonization?
    8. Christianity, Islam and traditional religions
      1. Where in Africa do Islam, Christianity or indigenous religions predominate?
      2. Why do they predominate in these areas?
      3. When did Islam arrive in one of its major areas?
      4. When did Christianity arrive in one of its major areas?
      5. Bonus points: How has indigenous religion influenced either Christianity or Islam in one area?
    9. Masks in West African cultures (Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, etc.)
      1. What are they used for
      2. Who makes them
      3. How are they used
      4. Bonus points: How has mask-making changed since colonialism
    10. Proverbs
      1. Role of proverbs in African societies
      2. List several proverbs
      3. State where they're from and give a little background on that society
      4. Explain what they mean
      5. Bonus points List ones you can't explain and try to explain them

      Some Useful Links

    11. Dangarembga biography
      1. Family background
      2. Education
      3. Other works
      4. Relationship to post-independence government
      5. Where is she now?
      6. Bonus points for some illuminating quotes

      Some Useful Links

    12. Shona culture
      1. Location
      2. Numbers
      3. Religion
      4. Social/political structure
      5. Bonus points for info on women in Shona culture:
        • What have been some traditional roles for women in Shona culture?
        • How has the status of women changed since colonialism?
        • Name 2 – 3 prominent Shona women, besides Tsitsi Dangarembga, and say what they are known for.

      Some Useful Links

      • Information on Shona culture from the Art and Life in Africa Project at the University of Iowa.
      • Two articles with overlapping content on Shona culture from Tonya Taylor, lecturer in anthropology at University of Pennsylvania:
      • The Mbira Page, a site dealing with Shona culture that focuses on traditional music played on the mbira (see the site for more on this instrument). Has pages on culture (taken from the page linked above), music and spirituality, cooking (where you can learn about sadza) and related topics.
      • A page of links from Cora Agatucci’s class in African literature at Central Oregon Community College. Scroll down to “Related Links” for material on Shona culture.
      • Entry on Shona language from Ethnologue.com, “ an encyclopedic reference work cataloging all of the world's 6,912 known living languages.” Information on how many people speak the language, where it is spoken, dialects and sub-dialects, relationship to other languages, etc.
      • The Function of Roora in Rural Zimbabwe, the traditional Shona practice of marriage sometimes translated as “dowry” or “bride-price.” A personal view by an Irish man married to a Shona woman.
      • Gender Matters in Zimbabwe, a page of links to short articles from the the Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English website.
    13. Fanon
      1. Biographical sketch (date/place of birth, occupation, date/place of death)
      2. Thumbnail sketch of important ideas/theories about colonization
      3. Influence on independence movements/liberation struggles
      4. Bonus points for some illuminating quotes with explanations.

      Some Useful Links

    14. Education under colonialism (pick one or at most two countries to focus on—Nigeria or Zimbabwe are good choices)
      1. Why did the colonial rulers establish an educational system for Africans?
      2. Who was selected to receive formal Western education?
      3. Why were they selected?
      4. What sort of education did they receive (what subjects, what level did it go to, what was the focus or goal?)
      5. Bonus points: What were some key criticisms of the colonial education system?

      Some Useful Links

    15. The struggle for independence in Zimbabwe
      1. Where is Zimbabwe? What was it called before it became Zimbabwe? Where do the two different names come from?
      2. Population, ethnic groups
      3. Economy and how people live
      4. History from precolonial times through independence, democracy and one-party rule
    16. Marechera biography
      1. Family background
      2. Education
      3. Major works
      4. Relationship to post-independence government
      5. Where is he now?
      6. Bonus points for some illuminating quotes
    17. Moses Isegawa biography
      1. Family background
      2. Education
      3. Major works
      4. Relationship to post-independence government
      5. Where is he now?
      6. Bonus points for some illuminating quotes

      Some Useful Links

      • A short biography from the PEN American Center. This page also has links to a couple reviews of his first novel, The Abyssinian Chronicles.
      • A brief description by the author of how he became a writer, from the PEN site.
      • An interview with Isegawa from the British Council, an arts organization. This is a DOC file.
      • Vazquez, Michael C. “Hearts in Exile.” Transition – Issue 86 (Volume 10, Number 2), 2001, pp. 126-150.
        This article has a good interview with Isegawa and another Ugandan author, Mahmood Mandani, with some helpful information about Isegawa’s current situation, the background of his writing and his attitude toward the current government. I cannot provide a direct link to the article, but you can get to it through ProQuest, the periodicals database available through the Library Media Center. Follow these simple steps:
        1. Go to the Library Media Center home page.
        2. From the drop-down menu on the left, select “ProQuest.”
        3. In ProQuest, select the “Publications” tab.
        4. On the “Publications” page, enter “Transition” in the search box. (Note that the title is singular: Transition, not TransitionS.) You should see a link to “Transition; Durham” (Durham, NC, is where it is published). Follow this link.
        5. On the page for the journal Transition, select the link for “2000, Issue 86.”
        6. On the contents page for that issue, scroll down to the link “Hearts in Exile.” Follow that link and voilą, you are looking at the interview.
        If you are trying to get this article from home, you will need a Shoreline email account. Once you have your account, follow steps 1 and 2 above. At the ProQuest log on page enter your email name (example: I would enter “doldham”) and your password, and you will be given access to Pro Quest.
    18. Uganda-historical background
      1. Where is Uganda
      2. Population, ethnic groups
      3. Economy and how people live
      4. History from precolonial times through independence, dictatorship and democracy
    19. Malawi background
      1. Where is Malawi
      2. Population, ethnic groups
      3. Economy and how people live
      4. History from precolonial times through independence, dictatorship and democracy
      5. Bonus points for illuminating details on life in Malawi or prominent individuals and their role in the country.

      Some Useful Links

      • The Britannica.com article on the history of Malawi contains a reasonably detailed history of the country from prehistoric times to the present. The general article on Malawi also contains some useful information and further links.
      • The Wikipedia article on the history of Malawi, while it does not cite its sources, provides what seems to be reliable information about Malawi’s history while emphasizing different facets from those in the Britannica article. Wikipedia also has a general article on Malawi with more information and links. I recommend scrolling to the bottom of the External Links section; there are some links there that look interesting.
      • The Africa page at Eldis. Follow the link to Malawi on the right, under “Country Profiles,” where you will find numerous links to articles, statistical profiles, and other information.
      • Malawi: Outlook Remains Bleak for the Poor, from the Inter-Press Service Africa page, February 21, 2007. The story is also posted on the allAfrica.com website’s Malawi page.
      • Impact of Aids on Economic Development in Malawi, a 2000 article from ZNet on Malawi’s current economic and political situation includes a useful short history of post-independence Malawi. Warning: The layout is confusing: for some reason the article is duplicated in two columns on the same page. You only need to read one column since they are identical.
      • The Media In Emergent Democracies In Southern Africa, a 1997 article by the same author as the AIDS article, covering much of the same history but with additional detail on some subjects. The focus of the article is the government’s relation to the media, but it includes some useful recent history.
      • Southern Africa: Balance Between Free Market And State-Run Food Security Needed, a detailed look at government policies regarding food by the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). Discusses role of food policies and corruption in the 2002 famine in Malawi. The story is also posted on the allAfrica.com website’s Malawi page.
      • The CIA World Fact Book entry on Malawi has statistics and some short, very condensed summaries of history and political and economic information.
      • Poet’s biography (any Malawian poet whose work we have read)
        1. Family background
        2. Education
        3. Major works
        4. Status under the dictatorship
        5. Where are they now?
        6. Bonus points for some illuminating quotes