Unit One: Why Study Africa?
Module One: Exploring the Diversity of Africa
Activity Two, Exercise B: Images of Africa - Engage
Which one of these photographs best represents contemporary Africa?
The picture in the center is the most typical image you would most often encounter, of the three, if you were traveling through Africa today. The picture at top left is a caricature of the tragedy of starving children in Ethiopia and other drought stricken areas in eastern Africa. This picture appeared on the cover of a popular German magazine. While you might indeed encounter this image in that region, it is less likely you would if you were traveling through other areas of Africa. The picture at top right is a western depiction of African "tribesmen." They are men dressed in traditional ceremonial dress. In some parts of Africa, people do such garb when engaging in traditional ceremonies; in other places, such as the rainforests near the equator or the region of the San people of southern Africa, you might see people dressed like this on an average day. But you would really have to try hard to find such an image in modern day Africa.
The point is that the images we usually see of Africa in the media often look more like these two pictures here, images such as starving children and people dressed in tribal costumes. The prevalence of these images in the media might make us think that this is what Africa is all about, but thatís far from the truth! In most places, people live lives similar to our lives in America; they go to work and school, and spend time with their families. In fact, if you were traveling in east, west, north, south, or central Africa, you could find an image like the one in the center, children playing on their way to school, pretty much anywhere you go. Thatís why this picture of laughing schoolchildren is the most "typical," because it shows us the ordinary, not the exceptional.
Go on to Exercise 3 or select from the other activities in this lesson plan below:
Other Activities in this lesson plan include: