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Framing Africa with 5 Music Narratives

Author: Lisa Yuk Kuen Yau


Francis Scott Key School

Year: 2021

Seminar: Listening to the Music of Contemporary Africa: History, Politics, and Human Origins

Grade Level: 4-8

Keywords: Africa, African music, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, freedom songs, griots, gumboot, hip-hop, Kenya, Mali, national anthems, protest dances, protest songs, Pygmies, South Africa, stepping, Zap Mama

School Subject(s): English, Math, Science, Social Studies

This 4th to 8th grade curriculum unit introduces students to the rising significance of Africa, its music and people, with lessons connected to ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Music is a living reflection of the political, cultural, and economic systems of a region. Most scholars classify Africa as having five (5) major cultural-geographic regions: Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa, West Africa, and Southern Africa. Students will analyze maps, listen to music from playlists, and make musical instruments to explore the regional music of the following countries: Pygmies music of Democratic Republic of Congo (Central Africa), hip hop and youth culture of Kenya (East Africa), national identity of Egypt (Northern Africa), griots and storytelling traditions of Mali (West Africa), gumboot dancing and protest songs of South Africa (Southern Africa). The unit has three main focuses to help students to: 1) understand that African music does not have a single identifiable characteristic due to the diversity of its people, languages and cultures; 2) discover how global issues such as deforestation, decolonization, and institutional racism continues to impact both Africa and the United States; 3) feel inspired and empowered through the appreciations of protest songs from contemporary Africa and the United States to create a musical interpretation of their own identities.

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Full Unit Text
Content Objectives


In 2009, the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a TED Talk titled “The Danger of a Single Story” with the warning: When complex human beings, situations or countries are reduced into a single story, we are perpetuating stereotypes, misconceptions, myths, and an incomplete picture.[1] The “single story” is often applied with regards to Africa. It is important to guide students to view the world with the lens of intersectionality, and help them to acquire new knowledge through envisioning different positions in terms of race, gender, class and other identities.

This curriculum unit presents five (5) intertwined narratives working against the generalization of what most people assume about Africa, Africans, and African music.

1) In Central Africa, the Pygmies — hunter-gatherers of the Congo Basin — are not one people with one type of music. The Pygmies’ short stature, and lack of modern clothing and amenities should not be used to label them as primitive, uncivilized, unintelligent, “half devil, half child” or “beasts with no houses.”[2] The music of the Pygmies can teach students how hunter-gatherers treat, value and relate to the natural world without the constraint of land ownership, capitalism and overt self-interest.

2) In Kenya (East Africa), hip hop music is furnishing. The history of hip hop has come full circle from a rapping African tradition carried to the new world since the 1400s, to a youth culture and music movement when block parties were popular in New York City during the1970s, to a contemporary recreation by African youth who have added an African twist to hip hop from the United States.[3]

3) In North Africa, when a national icon like Umm Kulthum is dubbed “The voice of Egypt”, does it mean that a departure from her music and other national traditions is un-Egyptian? Who has the authority to say who represents the music of one people or one country? Who do students see as the voice of the United States?

4) In West Africa, griot music (a storytelling tradition that originated from the Mali Empire) is modernized and celebrated by African women singers. Who are these modern women, and how are their narratives and music similar and/or different from the griot music of the past?

5) In Southern Africa, protest songs against apartheid in South Africa are not only comparable but inseparable from today’s protest movements, such as #BlackLivesMatter. Protest music plays an important role in calling for an end to injustice, and galvanizing public actions at both the local and global levels.


We can no longer afford to identify ourselves only as a citizen of a nation; teachers must guide children to act as global citizens, working across world cultures towards a common good. Despite the many negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also brought us innovations to connect and work together, and opportunities to build more genuine relationships, such as changes to better public health, a new wave of educational tools for digital education, and goals to narrow the internet access and affordability gap for all students. Thus, it is an imminent danger to continue to separate the welfare of the United States of America from the rest of the world, especially Africa.

Ignorance of Human Origin and History

The history of Africa is a human story that connects every single person from our past, present and future. When I tell my students that the origin of modern humans began in Africa, most are astonished and some in total disbelief. Most scientists accept the genetic and fossil evidence that Africa is the cradle of humankind, the birth of all living people, and we all came from Africa. Approximately 5,000,000 (five billion) years ago, an ape in Africa began to walk on two legs and took the first steps towards humanity; but apes are NOT our ancestors.[4] The road to humans was a long one; it wasn’t until VERY recently– only 200,000 years ago – that the modern human (homo sapiens) emerged.[5]

Reclaim Memories of Africa through Music

Students are often NOT taught that slavery spans across races, cultures, nations, and religions, from ancient times’ legitimated practices to present day’s illegal human trafficking. Enslavement has not always been based on race, but often stemmed from systems of social standings, economic wealth, and political power. The term “slave” may have its origins in “Slav”, an ethno-linguistic group in Europe that have records of being taken as slaves by the Muslims of Spain during the 9th century.[6] In fact, white people were enslaved throughout history by Europeans, North Africans, and West Asians. Slavery dates back as far as 6800 B.C. in Mesopotamia when war captives were enslaved to perform forced labor.[7] From the 7th to the 19th century, Islamic slavery was mainly confined to Europe, Asia, Northern and Eastern Africa.[8] After 1600, a number of West African kingdoms as well as the Portuguese, British, French, Spanish and Dutch governments played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade. Portugal had long-established seaport bases for the slave trades in Angola (first arriving in 1482, and retaking the port of Luanda from the Dutch in 1648) and in Mozambique (first arriving in 1498, and creating trading posts by 1505).[9] It is estimated that 13 million Africans were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic over the span of 400 years, and 1.5 million died during the harsh journey.[10] Today, slavery is still practiced, despite it being illegal.

Maybe Music Can Save the World?

After hearing a performance by students in Japan, the musician Pablo Casals proclaimed: “Perhaps it is music that will save the world.”[11] I believe music will open new doors — futuristic, idealistic and realistic — at a time when we face a new wave of ideas about what and how children should learn. Music education has the power to help students learn in imaginative ways: 1) Listen to the sound of the world and each other carefully; 2) Foster language development through songs of new languages (The total number of languages vs. dialects natively spoken in Africa is estimated at between 1,250 and 2,100, and by some counts at 3,000)[12]; 3) Increase brain activity; 4) Improve spatial-temporal skills; 5) Cooperate with others to create something new. According to a 2004 publication by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto, his research has showed a small increase in the IQs of six-year-olds who took weekly voice and piano lessons.[13]

African Music Globalization

Martha Huro, a Managing Director of East Africa at Transnet Music Limited commented about the popularity of African music: “We’ve seen an influx of songs… They’re speaking about encouragement, they’re speaking about creation of awareness, and they are also relatable.”[14] Historians may argue that the globalization of African music began with the slave trade in the 16th century. Globalization of African music is not a one way-street, but a long conversation and exchange between Africa and the West. At the turn of the 20th century, the industrialization of Africa music explored with the aid of radio, T.V., internet, and social media. European and American musicians have imitated Africa music and labelled their creations as modern at the expense of indigenous people including the Pygmies who are the forest people of Central Africa, Maasai who remains as nomadic pastoralists of East Africa, San people (Bushman) of South Africa, Imazighen or Berbers of North Africa, and Hausa people of the sub-Saharan Africa. During a recent set of Zoom interviews in 2021, African  music producers and musicians discuss the following five ways that the African music industry is changing its own narrative: 1. Empowering and structuring locally-built African music industries. 2. Entering global music scenes. 3. Facilitating creation and building powerful catalogues. 4. Adopting a grassroots approach to the business. 5. Reclaiming what African Music is.[15]

Problem Statements (Needs, Deficiencies and Learning Objectives)

Problem Statement #1: Africa is the world’s 2nd largest continent with over 1 billion people, but it is often thought of as un-important. Students often misunderstand Africa as an under-developed “country” (not a thriving continent). Africa is becoming a vital world power with thousands of diverse cultures, ethnic groups, rich biodiversity, and financial investors. In addition, there is a lack of acknowledgment that our human ancestry dated back to fossil evidence of Africa. When we teach American history, it’s important to start with a conversation about the history of human origin beginning in Africa. The misconception that the lives of the hunters and gatherers are “primitive” and “uncivilized” also need to be addressed in our teaching of history and cultures.

I have to confess that my lack of knowledge about Africa and the names of its 54 countries has limited my understanding and personal connections with students from Africa. In recent years, more and more African immigrants are entering urban schools like mine. At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, I thought (based on student online records) that I have one student from Egypt, and two students from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But I slowly discovered through asking the right questions that one of the students is actually from Kenya (that’s why his father doesn’t need an English interpreter for Swahili or French), and the other student is still not sure where he was born, but knows that he lived in Malawi when he was little, and that his dad is originally from Kenya. Even though the black African immigrants and the African-American communities are grouped as a unit in the United States by the color of their skin, the differences between the two are often ignored in our curriculum and day-to-day interactions. I want this unit to help teachers to guide their students (all races) to take small steps as they journey to understand the complexity and beauty of Africa and its people by listening to music.

Problem Statement # 2: Racial slurs, profanity, offensive jokes, misogynistic attitudes, and derogatory labels about Africans, African-Americans, and women are often NOT addressed explicitly in classrooms. Racist caricatures did not only exist in the Jim Crow era, our textbooks, and museums, but are very present in our current music, movies, T.V. shows, video games, and social media. It is no wonder that when I ask students what their favorite songs are, someone would immediately say something like: “It has a lot of bad words, so I don’t really want to tell you, but there is a ‘clean’ version you can find on YouTube.” Children (younger than my 4th graders) are listening to lyrics full of racial slurs which often include the N word, misogynistic terms like the B word, and profanity like the F word. Teaching music like hip hop will provide opportunities for students to explore their thoughts and feelings about racial and gender inequality in our culture.

Problem Statement # 3: Music is often the first subject to be eliminated when there is a funding issue. Music can serve as an outlet of expression and creativity for students during challenging times like dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to strengthen their physical, emotional, and mental health. “Is music a universal language?” is a difficult question to answer without listening to music of different cultures. If yes, can music help bridge the achievement gaps for all learners including the ELL and LD learners? If music is not a universal language, how do we accept, appreciate and value music from a perspective different from our own? Research has shown that music education helps instill core values such as discipline, excellency, team work, positive attitude, and social skills. In fact, music and knowledge of music history can also strengthen student’s math aptitude, listening skills, public speaking, and creative performances.[14] With African music, students will be exposed to a non-Westernized perspective of the world and be more sensitive to the diverse backgrounds and cultures of people who are similar to and/or different from them. African music is not all about rhythms and drums; African music has as many complex and sophisticated elements as classical music like opera and the string orchestra.

My School Demographics

My school demographics represent a highly diverse community with a wide range of cultural and language backgrounds. The languages spoken by this diverse group of multilingual students, teachers, administrators, and parents: Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, French, Hindi (India), Italian, Khmer (Cambodia), Korean, Laos, Malays, Malawi, Nepali, Pashto, Poqomchi (Guatemala), Spanish, Swahili, Turkish, Vietnamese, and other Indigenous languages. For the school year 2020-2021 with 419 students, my school is comprised of 41% Hispanic, 38% Asian, 10% White, 8% Black and 3% Multi-Racial.[16] About 67% are English Language Learners (ELL), 5% have exited out of ELL services, and 15% are children of immigrants who were American-born (these students are NOT classified to receive ELL services, even though a language other than English is primarily spoken at home). That’s an estimated total of 87% of the student body that is composed of recent immigrants and/or children of immigrants. I believe I’ve a huge responsibility to teach all students in a culturally responsive way that is compatible with – as well as challenging to – how their brains function in a language other than English. It is important to teach history without marginalizing learners from different backgrounds. As teachers, we often underestimate our students, especially the ELL, Special Education students, and students of color, by giving them below grade level work. When a struggling reader is able to read texts 2 or 3 years below their grade level, it is NOT time to celebrate, rather it is time to set higher goals. Teachers need to stop promoting a false sense of accomplishment that may cripple student growth. Primary sources like songs from this unit can level the playing fields for all learners and at the same time, present students with new challenges and ways to think critically and imaginatively about their rightful place in history.

Content Objective

The African narratives are all too frequently depicted through the prism of a white, male, Western lens that distorts the values, worth, and light of Africa. There are a lot of misconceptions that need to be addressed with students. Below is a short list.

Misconception #1: Africa is a country (Geography). Debunk: Africa is a continent made up of 54 countries. Each country is different from each other in terms of political, social and economic structures. Understanding the variety of African music is one way to learn about these differences. There are a good number of conflicting maps and videos on the geography of Africa. Refer to Classroom Activities Week 1, Day 1 and Day 2 for a list of links about maps, songs and videos about Africa.

Western Colonization, Independence of African Countries, and War Conflicts: From 1880 to 1900 (within just 20 years), there was a mad rush called “The Scramble of Africa where European powers travelled into Africa to claim land for colonization. A Welsh-American named Henry Morton Stanley, one of first explorers, was hired by King Leopold II of Belgium to colonize land along the River Congo. “The Scramble of Africa” was mainly due to events in Europe rather than in Africa. Some of the factors include: 1) activism to end the slave trades in Europe, 2) boom in exploration, 3) capitalism based on monopoly and slave labor for cash crops such as rubber, coffee, sugar, etc. 4) political efforts to maintain world dominance, 5) medical advances against diseases such as malaria, 6) military innovations and other inventions such as the steam engines.[17]

Independence of African Countries from European Rule: The decolonization of Africa (started after World War II and escalated in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s) was messy, disorganized and violent. Political turmoil, social unrest and revolts included the Algerian War (1952-1962), the Angolan War (1961-1974), the Congo Crisis (1960-1965), the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya (1952-1960), and the Nigerian Civil War (1967 to1970).[18] Today, Western institutions and policies continue to dominate modern Africa.

Misconception #2: Africans Speak African (Languages). Debunk: There is NO language called “African.” There is a language called Afrikaans. At least 2,000 languages exist in Africa. The DRC recognizes French, Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba as its national languages. Kenya has over 120 ethnic groups who typically speak their mother tongues other than the official languages: English and Swahili. There are a total of 69 languages spoken in Kenya; most belong to two broad language families: the Bantu and the Nilotic. Sheng is an example of linguistic code-switching, a Kiswahili-based cant (language consisting a mixture of Kiswahili and English) spoken in urban areas of Kenya. Similarly, Mali recognized Bambara as its official language, but has 13 national languages (Bomu, Bozo, Dogon, Fulfulde, Hassaniya, Arabic, Mamara, Maninkakan, Sonike, Songhay, Syenara, Tamasheq, and Xaasongaxango) and 4 lingua francas (Bambara, French, Fula and Songhai). Egyptians speak a range of dialects with Literary Arabic as the official language and Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (a vernacular language) as its main dialect. There are many varieties of Arabic, and many minority languages in the Arab World. In South Africa, there are at least 35 indigenous languages, and 11 official languages (English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaans).[19]

Misconception #3: All Africans are dark skinned (Global Racism). Debunk: NOT all Africans are black people and NOT all black people are African-Americans. African peoples are divided into thousands of ethnic groups. Ethnicities and loyalties connect people across lines of class. Traditional African societies are organized into levels of hierarchy based on 3 basic principles: 1) elderhood, the quality of being older; 2) servitude, the condition of being controlled by others; 3) rank relative to the ruler.[20] In contrast to the wealthy elites, the masses consist mainly of peasants, workers, migrants, shopkeepers, small business owners, clerks, teachers, soldiers, police, and minor officeholders. In Africa, the multitude of ethnic ties can hinder the growth of national identity as well as class identity, even though most people share resentment against the elites over the widening wealth gap. For example, individuals may regard themselves as Bantu (the ethnic group) rather than Congolese (the country). Heads of state sometimes favor members of their own ethnic group with positions of power and profit. Such favoritism has led to civil wars among competing ethnic groups in many African nations.

Population Growth of Africa: Over the past century the population growth of Africa is explosive with youth under the age of 14 growing in the exponential rate while life expectancy has lowered to below 50 years.[21] The population of Africa grew 7.6 times from 177 million in 1950 to more than 1.341 billion in 2020.[22] It is a big growth difference from the rest of the world, which is already in balance in term of age (USA in 1966, Europe in 1969, Asia in 1977, and Latin America in 2000).[23] 

Misconception #4: All African countries are poor; African people live in huts and have no modern technology (Economic and Wealth Inequality). Debunk: Africa is not poor; in fact, the rest of the world has stolen its wealth and continues to do so. Africa as a region is rich and rising, but the majority of its people are poor as the wealth gap continues to widen globally. There are now about 165,000 very rich Africans, with combined holdings of $860 billion.[24] Africa is the land of economic opportunities with the potential to rise above any other continent. So why is Africa still struggling with poverty despite the fact that it is home to the world’s majority of highly-demanded raw materials?

According to the most recent estimate, $29 billions a year is being stolen from Africa in illegal logging, fishing and trade in wildlife, and $36 billion is owed to Africa as a result of the abuses and damages due to climate change, unfair trade policies, and transfer pricing.[25] The root of our climate crisis was not caused by Africa, but the people of Africa will feel the effects more than most other people of the world. For example, the Western-based multinational mining companies are stealing natural wealth from sub-Saharan Africa as mining continues to worsen the air quality. Africa’s economic malaise is also self-perpetuating. Warfare, misgovernment, and corruption that the Western world created in the first place continues to have direct consequences resulting in Africa’s low standard of living and quality of life. In Kenya, police corruption is so common that it is dubbed as “toa kitu kidogo” (give a little something) or “chai” (tea).[26] The hip hop artist Jimwat has a song titled Sitoi Kitu Kidogo about police bribery.

In order to achieve economic growth for the continent, the individual countries of Africa needs to address the negligence of sound economic policies due to mismanagement of land, natural and human resources, unending corruption, poor infrastructure, selfish personal interests, political conflicts (civil wars and terrorism), religious and ethnic differences, and poor provision of basic amenities including water, food, shelter, energy, healthcare, education and security for all.[27] The rest of the world also needs to stop stealing from Africa countries, and start to treat Africa with fair trade policies, access routes to land-locked countries, international aid, and other humanitarian efforts.

Misconception #5: Africa is a desert (always hot and sunny) OR a Sahara (w. wild animals running everywhere) OR a jungle. Debunk: As the 2nd largest continent, Africa has a variety of geographic features and vegetation zones. Many people think of Africa as consisting mostly of dry deserts. While the Sahara Desert covers approximately 3.3 million square miles in 11 countries with Libya and Egypt almost entirely desert, it is not the largest vegetation zone.[28] A lot of people also mistaken that the African continent is a huge steaming jungle. In fact, only a small percentage of Africa, along the Guinea Coast and in the Zaire River Basin, are rainforests. Most of Africa’s forests, like the forests of Europe and North America, have been cut or burned by humans to create farmland. The largest vegetation zone in Africa is tropical grassland, known as savanna. There are 2 forms of savanna: natural grassland v. manmade grassland created by humans cutting forests over the last 3,000 years. The grassland region of West Africa is often referred to as the Sudanic belt. The Mali Empire and other kingdoms that developed in this savanna zone are sometimes called Sudanic kingdoms. Major cities in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Angola, and other African countries are rising with crane-filled skylines, construction of road networks and railway lines, multi-million-dollar mansions, business malls, and growing number of companies in the technologies.

Misconception #6: All African women are victims of oppression. Debunk: Even though leadership in Africa has been male-dominated for centuries, it does not mean there are no female leaders rising and making significant contributions rapidly. African women are often stereotyped as uneducated and oppressed, but the list of iconic African woman leaders cannot be ignored. A short list includes: Taytu Betul (Empress, Ethiopia), Huda Shaarawi (feminist leader and nationalist, Egypt), women soldiers of Dahomey (Benin), Gisele Rabesahala (politician, Madagascar), Wangari Maathai (environmental activist, Kenya), Miriian Makeba (musician & apartheid activist, South Africa), Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Africa’s 1st woman president, Liberia), Yaa Asantewaa (Queen Mother of the Edweso tribe, Ghana), Nzinga Mbandi (Queen of Ndongo and Matamba, Angola), and Cesaria Evora (musician, Cape Verde).[29] A few examples of contemporary African  women under the age 45, who are changing the misconception that African women are victims includes: Ory Okollah, Kenyan founder of Ushahidi; Yolanda Cuba, South African, Corporate Executive; Ndidi Nwuneli, Nigerian Social Entrepreneur; Dambisa Moyo, Zambian economist; Khanyi Ndhlomo, South African media mogul; Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Ethiopian Entrepreneur; Elsie Kanza, Economic Advisor to Tanzania’;s President; and Saran Kaba Jones, Liberian, Founder of Face Afric. .[30]

One contemporary women champion of Africa is a Beninese-American singer, actress and activist named Angelique Kidjo. In September 2012, she was featured in a campaign called 30 Songs/30 Days to support the cause Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.[31] At the 62nd Grammy Ceremony on January 26th 2020, she sung the song Afirika that celebrates the continent with lyrics: “Open your eyes, ears and hearts and surrender to the sights and sounds of Africa.”[32] In 2006, Kidjo founded the Batonga Foundation with the goal of empowering and educating adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa; the Foundation has the goal to go “beyond the paved road” by empowering the most marginalized and underprivileged girls, and equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to live healthy, financially independent lives. In a New York Times article, Kidjo was praised for her connection to the next generation of songwriters. During her Grammy acceptance in 2020, she said: “The new generations of artists coming from Africa gonna take you by storm, and the time has come.”[33]

It is true that African women continue to experience inequality due to today’s modern system of  human trafficking, forced marriages, and domestic violence. According to a 2005 article in the U.N.’s African Renewal, the majority of impoverished people in Africa are women perpetuated with lesser access to education and jobs.[34] The African Union has dedicated 2016 as the Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on Women Rights. Advances in sexual and reproductive rights will empower women and girls to make informed choices about their own health, bodies and futures. Each year thousands of women and girls have died unnecessarily in pregnancy and childbirth across Africa. Obstacles such as user fees, the need for 3rd party consent for treatment, and a lack of privacy and confidentiality at health facilities had dramatically impacted maternal health. African leaders have committed to implement international laws such as the “Maputo Protocol,” but the gender inequality is still an everyday struggle for women in Africa.[35]

Misconception #7: Africans do nothing to help themselves and need to be saved by a white man. Debunk: In 2010, Africans who lived outside of Africa sent $51.8 billion back to their families who still live in Africa; this is more money than the $43 billion sent in aid from the Western world.[36] Yet, we are still bombarded with charity advertisements of African children sitting on the ground seemingly malnutritious and homeless, urgently calling you to donate money to save their lives. Little is known that there are also countless grassroot projects established by African people for African people. For example, Hawa Abdi is a Somalian woman who established a health clinic in the 1980s and it has grown to include a school, refugee camp and hospital for over 90,000 women and children made homeless due to war.[37]

The main goal of this unit is to present students with a series of diverse narratives about Africa, its music and world influence, by studying aspects of 5 African countries and their music: 1) DRC; 2) Kenya: 3) Egypt; 4) Mali and 5) South Africa.

Central Africa (DRC) and The Pygmy Peoples:

In Central Africa, the Pygmies continue to suffer from discrimination, deforestation, and other violence. Pygmies was often the target of slavery by the Bantu, and attacks including rape and cannibalization. In general, the Pygmies are ostracized from participating in the wider society; they are often seen as untouchable. Pygmy music is only recently recognized worldwide by musicians such as Herbie Handcock and Madonna. Marie Daulne, the lead vocalist of the world music group Zap Mama, is an interesting artist who helps revitalize Pygmy music at the global level. Daulne is the daughter of a Belgian father and a Congolese mother; she was born in the East Zaire City of Isiro, DRC. Her father was killed by the Simba rebels during the Congo Crisis (an estimated 100,000 deaths). Baby Daulne with her mother and siblings had to survive hiding in the forest before being evacuated to Belgium.[38] The Crisis led a traumatic setback for DRC as well as loss of leadership with the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Daulne explains the importance of the human voice in her music: “The voice is an instrument itself… It’s the original instrument. The primary instrument. The most soulful instrument, the human voice.”[39] In Pygmy music, the human voice is essential. At camp before or after a hunt, Pygmies will perform rituals where many voices will sing in polyphonic sequence with separated and often independent melodies. An example of a western polyphonic instrument (instead of human voices) is the classical keyboard.

Playlist of Pygmy Music:

  1. Polyphonic Sequences – Bibayak Pygmies Music [1966] Time: 4:44
  2. Yelli – Baka women “yodellers” Time: 2:18
  3. Aka Peoples Music, Male vocal solo Time; 2:18
  4. “Liquindi” (Water Drumming) Baka Music Time 1:05
  5. “Dikoboda Sombe” (Hut Song) Aka Music Time 3:54
  6. BaAka Pygmy music, dance & camp atmosphere Time 3:53
  7. Orchéstre Baka Gbiné lost song (2008) Time: 3:23
  8. Song After Collecting Honey Mbuti Music Time: 10:00
  9. The Ba-Benzélé Pygmies – Hindewhu (Whistle Solo) Time: 2:06
  10. Ndima, Aka pygmy group – Geneva Concert Time: 6:43

Playlist, Westernization of Pygmy Music by non-pygmy musicians

  1. Zap Mama, Brrlak! Time: 3:24; Bandy Bandy; Sablsylma; Rafiki; Live on KCRW.
  2. Herbie Hancock, Watermelon Man
  3. Baka Beyond, Beyond the Forest, an album of 10 songs
  4. French Euro-Pop Stars Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet, Deep Forest (1992 film), over 10 million copies of the album were sold.

Western Researchers and Experts: 1) Colin Turnnbull (1924-1994), a British-American anthropologist and ethnographer who wrote the book The Forest People (1962).[40] 2) Jean-Pierre Hallet (1927-2004), a Belgian (born in DRC) ethnologist and humanitarian known for his extensive work with the Efé (Bambuti) Pygmies.[41] 3) Simha Arom (1930), a French-Israeli ethnomusicologist who is recognized as a world expert on the music of Central Africa wrote a book titled: African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology (1991).[42] 4) Luis Devin (1975), an Italian ethnomusicologist who studied in depth the musical rituals and instruments of Baka Pygmies such as water drumming.[43] 5) Louis Sarno (1954-2017), an American musicologist who wrote the book Song from the Forest; a film was made based on his life living with his Pygmy wife and son in the forest of DRC.[44]

East Africa (Kenya), Hip Hop Youth and Street Culture:

Street and youth cultures from all over the world continue to reinvent hip-hop. Kenya is no exception as Tedd Josiah, a Kenyan music producer points out: “Kenya is not just about Lions, Giraffes, and fast running men… it’s also about Studios and Hip-hop.”[45]  The documentary Hip-Hop Colony explores how hip hop from America was transported to Kenya (a former British colony), and later established strong roots amongst the local citizens; this led local artists to develop a uniquely Kenyan hip hop.[46] These artists laid a foundation for youth expression, political awareness and social activism. The artist Ntarangwi claims that music empowers youth to publicly engage with issues that directly affect them. Artists vocalize their concerns about economic policies, African identity, and political establishments, as well as important issues of health (such as HIV/AIDS), education, and poverty. Through 3 years of fieldwork, rich interviews with artists, and analysis of live performances and more than 140 songs, Ntarangwi finds that hip hop provides youth an important platform for social commentary and cultural critique, and calls attention to the liberating youth music culture in East Africa.[47]

In America, the album Illmatic (1994) by Nas has lyrics that deal with the question of hip-hop’s mass appeal as a sign of its death. Nas clearly decries the idea that hip hop has gone the way of commercialization, pledging to stay true to its origins. So, if hip hop is dead, who’s killed it? Excerpts from the song Hip Hop is Dead explains what Nas means:

Everybody sounds the same, commercialize the game

Reminiscin’ when it wasn’t all business

It forgot where it started

So, we all gather here for the dearly departed [48]

Below is a playlist of possible Kenyan Hip Hop v. United States Hip Hop pairing

WARNING: Be alert of profanity and explicit content

Suggestions: Find “CLEAN” versions on YouTube OR print out a hard copy of selected song lyrics and block out words of profanity with a black marker.

Notes: Names from Janelle Monae, Hell You Talmbout: Say His Name (2015): Walter Scott, Jerame Reid, Philip White, Eric Garner, Travon Martin, Sean Bell, Freddie Gray, Alyana Jones, Sandrea Bland, Kimani Gray, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Miriam Carey, Sharonda Singleton, Emmett Till, Tommy Yancy, Jordan Baker, Amadou Diallo.[49]

Kenyan Hip Hop or Dance United States Hip Hop or Dance
1. Maasai warrior jumping contest

Northwest Tap Connection & Shakiah Danielson, #Hellyoutalmbout Janelle Monae, Hell You Talmbout: Say His Name (2015)
2. Camp Mulla’s If You Believe (2013) The Black-Eyed Peas’ Where is the Love (2003) and Street Livin’ (2018, Explicit)
3. Ricky Oyaro, Renaissance (1990) Sugarhill Gang, Rapper’s Delight (1979, Full Version Time:14:34)
4. Nonini, Weh Kamu (Swahili and Sheng, 2002), Colour Kwa Face ft. Christine Apondi (2012) Fugees [Lauren Hill, Pras and Wyclef Jean], Vocab (1994, 4:00), Nappy Heads (1994)
5. Jua Cali, Karibu Nairobi (2009) J.J. Fad, Supersonic (1988)
6. Pena Gitu, Doing Her Thing Though (2017, Explicit) Salt-N-Pepa, Shoop (1993, Explicit)
7. Boomba Clan, African Tymer (2007, Profanity) Nas, album/song Nastradamus (1999, Profanity) Hip Hop Is Dead ft. (2008, Profanity)
8 Muthoni Drummer Queen, Nai Ni Ya Who (2008, Profanity) Missy Elliott, Work it (2002, Profanity)
9. Sosuun, Kufunikwa (2016, Profanity) Bahamadia, Uknowhowwedu (1996, Profanity)
10 Wangechi, Here’s to Us ft. Kaki/Sibot and the People of Kenya (2016) Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five [Duke Bootee], The Message (1982)

North Africa (Egypt) and National Identity

Music has been an integral part of Egyptian culture since antiquity; Egyptian music had influenced the development of ancient Greek music and musical instruments like the harps and lyre. Today, the rise of the contemporary Egyptian music scene concentrates mainly in Cairo and Alexandria, and has developed with a new generation of young audience in Egypt and at the international level.

In Egypt (North Africa), the singer/actress Umm Kulthum (1904-1975) has been dubbed as The Voice of Egypt, a national icon, and the most famous Arab singer of all times. Her heyday extended from the 1930s to the 1960s and her music has become a powerful symbol of Arab nationalism.[50] According to the French social scientist Emile Durkheim, “collective effervescence” is a state where a society comes together, and simultaneously communicates the same thought and participates in the same action.[51] Umm Kulthum had proven her ability to achieve a state of collective effervescence in unifying the people of Egypt with her spellbinding singing. In the 1950s and 1960s, Egyptian radios broadcasted her music live on Thursday nights (last day of the workweek in most Islamic countries), and today at 10 p.m. on the first Thursday every month her music is broadcasted on the radio in honor of her.[52] YouTube has a series of Kuthum’s performances that showcase her best songs; she was usually accompanied by an orchestra and her signature handkerchief. The song IntaʿUmrī (You Are My Life) remains a modern classic.

Mahragan (مهرجان “festival”), sometimes refers as “the music of the masses”, is a popular electronic dance and street music that has gained mainstream foothold in the 2010s.[53] Mahraganat music often contains political lyrics, and recently it has gained popularity inside and outside of Egypt through collaboration with European electronic artists. Originated in working-class neighborhoods by mainly underprivileged youth from the ‘ashwa’iyyat (shanty towns) on the outer limits of Cairo and Alexandria, Mahragan music first appeared on YouTube in 2007 and gained popularity among the youngest generations. The music has also been called techno-sha’bi or electro-sha’bi, which refers to the older genre of sha’bi (شعبي “folk”) music.[54]  Mahragan is actually more closely aligned with American Hip-Hop than with other Egyptian genres. Mahragan music is usually a mix of rapped and sung vocals (often with auto-tune) over sampled beats to provide a heavy, energetic, and fast-paced musical soundtrack, mainly recorded in makeshift home studios and traded via YouTube and USB sticks. Some popular performers include: DJ Figo, Sadat, Alaa’ Fifty Cent, Aly & Fila, DJ Amr Haha, Islam Fanta, Okka and Ortegam.

On Friday, March 8, 2020, a hologram of Kulthum was projected on stage at the Cairo Opera House, 45 years after her death.[55] The virtual performance of Kulthum was part of a fierce debate over the moral decline of contemporary Egyptian music. A month earlier on Valentine’s Day, a concert was held at the Cairo Stadium featuring Mahraganat singers Hassan Shakoush, Omar Kamal, Tamer Hosny, Mohamed Ramadan, and others.[56] After Hassan Shakoush and Omar Kamal performed their hit, Bent El-Geran (The Neighbor’s Daughter), people in social media criticized the lyrics for lacking age appropriateness and a deviation from Egyptian values. One explicit line from the song was “I drink alcohol and smoke Hashish” which was supposed to have been altered (cleaned), but a wrong version was played during the concert.[57] Shortly after, the Egyptian musicians’ union banned Mahraganat music in Egypt and denied Mahraganat singers their memberships.

Egyptian political songs play a crucial role in provoking the public to be politically active. For example, the song “Patriotic Port Said” (1978) by El Tanbura (a music group) makes references to the 1956 Suez war when Israel, France and Great Britain attacked Egypt after President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.[58] Al watan Al Akbar (The Greatest Homeland, 1960) was an Arab Nationalist song composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab to celebrate the union of Egypt and Syria into the United Arab Republic.[59]

January 25th is an official holiday in Egypt known as Police Day, which celebrated the Egyptian police for protecting the Egyptian people in 1952 when they resisted British forces in Ismailia and expelled the British monarchy out of Egypt; the battle left 50 dead and over 80 officers injured.[60] During the revolution of January 25, 2011, Egypt witnessed a new and distinguished wave of political songs, in which young and underground musicians played a significant role to keep the protesters’ spirit high in a 18 day occupation. Here the older generation and the young generation of musicians united with 18 days of protest and singing. For example, the seasoned group El Tanhura was at Tahrir Square every day performing the 1978 song “Patriotic Port Said” and other nationalist songs. Younger protest singers include: Ramy Esam, Amir Eid and Hani Adel, and bands like Eskenderella. Both generations of singers continue to tackle Egyptian social and political issues in their songs. Police Day in 2011 led to General Hosni Mubarak being ousted as president, ending his 30-year rule of Egypt.[61]

So, who has the authority to say who represents the music of a country like Egypt or the United States? The answer usually lies in the activism of young visionaries. In a culture of deprivation, Mahragan music resonated with Egypt’s underprivileged youth who feel their voice is not recognized which propels their determination to be heard in music that the traditionalists find vulgar, inappropriate, and aggressive. As the youth culture begins to separate their musical identity from national icons like Kulthum, Egyptian music is being redefined. Today, about half of Egypt’s 20 million citizens aged 18 to 29 live in poverty and the unemployment for this group is 77 percent.[62] Perhaps the most popular song of the Egyptian 2011 revolution is the song “Ezzay” (How Come?) by Mohamed Mounir, a singer so revered, he was recently dubbed as “The Voice of Egypt”during an NPR live radio broadcast.[63] Mounir now shares the iconic title with the legend  Kulthum.

Playlist of Traditional Arabic Music

  1. Umm Kulthum, Inta ʿUmrī (You Are My Life, 1964), YouTube: Best songs (over 3 hours long):
  2. Al watan Al Akbar (The Greatest Homeland, 1960)
  3. El Tanbura, Patriotic Port Said (1978)
  4. The Musicians of the Niles, A Taste of the Ferde Festival (2012)
  5. National Arab Orchestra, Alf Leila wi Leila (2020)
  6. Alaa Wardi, YouTube Video: Evolution of Arabic Music (2016)

Playlist of Mahraganat and Contemporary Arabic Music

  1. Hassan Shakoush and Omar Kamal, Bent El-Geran (The Neighbor’s Daughter, 2020)
  2. Tamer Hosny, Khaleek Fulazy (2020 album),
  3. Mohamed Ramadan & Super Sako, Tik Tok (2019)
  4. DJ Figo, Amr Iedo, (2020)
  5. MC Sadat and Alaa’ Fifty Cent, The People Demand Five Pounds Credit, (2018)
  6. Oka Wi Ortega, Ana Asian Gamed, (2012)

Playlist of January 25, 2011 Protest Songs:

  1. Mohamed Mubarak, Ezzay (How Come?)
  2. Omar Offendum, Egypt, Freeway ft. Ayah, The Narcicyst & Amir Suleiman
  3. Ramy Esam, The New Revolution
  4. Hany Adel, Amir Eid Hawary & Sherif Mostafa, Sout Ahoureya (Voice of Freedom)
  5. Eskenderella, We Are Coming, A New Chapter

Playlist of Contemporary Women Egyptian artists other than icon Umm Kulthum

  1. Ruby, Hetta Tanya (2020)
    2. Angham, Howa Nafs Elshouk Sherine (2020)
  2. Nancy Ajram, Albi Ya Albi (2019)

Western Africa (Mali) and the Female Griot Storytelling Tradition in Modern Africa

It is especially important for students in the Americas to study the cultures and civilizations of West Africa, because West Africa is the region of Africa where most African-Americans can trace their ancestry. West Africa also has a larger population than any other African region; its regional size is nearly the size of the United States.

One important tradition of West Africa is oral storytelling. Many research studies reinforce the importance of oral storytelling in developing language skills, social skills, emotional wellness, and cognitive growth; oral storytelling also is so much more personal and intimate than a read aloud from a book.[64] The oral traditions of storytelling with singing and music originated in the Mali Empire (1235-1255) and continues in today’s Mali music scene. A “griot” is a traveling storyteller, musician and/or poet who maintains a tradition of oral history. Traditional griots were responsible for keeping all the records of births, deaths, and marriages throughout the generations of the village. In the past, griots also served the royal families as advisors, tutors, diplomats, and historians.

A female griot is referred to as a Jalimuso (muso meaning woman) in the male-dominated craft of the griot known as Jaliyaa. Traditionally, passed down from father to son or mother to daughter. The title of Jali or Jalimuso, along with their craft, has evolved in order to survive. The Jali/Jalimuso has become a touring artist, utilizing their instrumentation or verbal talents to make it in today’s world. Many Jali/Jalimuso have garnered worldwide reputations as musicians, scholars, poets and entertainers. There are still many of the elder griots who are traditionalists, holding true to the form of Jaliyaa taught to them by their fathers and grandfathers. The lives of these older griots are not as attractive as those seeking their rewards in a non-traditional setting (European concert tours, record deals, technological production, etc.) Today, performing is one of the most common functions of a griot. Their range of exposure has widened, and many griots now travel internationally to sing and play the kora or other instruments.

There is a large body of oral stories and legends passed down about Sundiata Keita (died 1255), the first ruler of the Mali Empire. These oral stories occasionally contradict written sources. Griots described Sundiata as a sickly child who was spared when all of his eleven royal brothers were murdered by the rulers of Ghana. Griots also retold how heroic Sundiata Keita was because of his intelligence, charisma, compassion, bravery, piety, and sense of justice. Sundiata created one of the very first charters of human rights called the Manden Charter, also known as the Kouroukan Fouga.[65] The Manden Charter was not written, but orally passed down by griots who recorded it as a charter of peace and the Mali Empire is a diverse nation that promote the abolition of slavery, education, and food security, among other things. Some historians believe that Arab traders in the area converted Sundiata Keita to Islam. Certainly, his descendants were Muslim, and many went on pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj), and Keita’s most famous descendent, Mansa Musa, dazzled Egypt and the Islamic world on his lavish pilgrimage to the east.[66]

Videos about Sundiata, Griot, the Mali Empire and other Ancient Civilizations: (The Sundiata Story…) (A Griot Story) (Maps Kingdoms) (Mali Empire) (10 Ancient African Civilization…)

The griot traditions of storytelling with singing and music have continued into today’s Mali music scene. A male example is Afel Bocoum (born 1955), a singer and guitarist from Mali and lead vocalist of Alkibar (Messenger of the Great River), a group consists of two acoustic guitars, a njarka (one-string fiddle), a njurkle (lute), calabash and djembe percussion, two female singers and male singers in the choruses.[67] Bocoum uses music as a medium of communication, commenting on contemporary Malian society. He sings: “If you betray one woman, you betray all women” in the song Yarabitala, “we live in a crazy world with no respect; tomorrow we’ll be judged by our children” in the song Salamm aleikum, “parents, do not force your daughters to marry; a home will never flourish without true love” in the song Mali woymoyo.[68]

In Mali, female griot singing stars include Ami Koita, Kandia Kouyaté, Tata Bambo Kouyaté, and groups like the Trio Da Kali (a group of 3 members: Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, Lassana Diabaté and Mamadou Kouyaté, son of the Ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate).[69] Female griots are a group of diverse musicians. For instance, Khaira Arby (the Timbuktu Diva) was the daughter of a Tuareg father and a Songhai mother. She began singing at a young age for weddings and traditional festivals, and at the age of 11, began singing in a musical troupe from the city of Timbuktu.[70] Arby wrote and sang with her scratchy voice in the indigenous languages of the region: Songhai, Tamachek, Bambara and Arabic. She addressed and sang about sensitive issues of war and advocated peace,  the rights of women to autonomy, training, happiness and fulfillment, and also against female genital mutilation. In contrast, Maya Sona Jobarteh, born in London with family from Gambia, is a member of one of the 5 principal kora-playing (griot) families in West Africa. The playing of this 21-stringed harp-like instrument was exclusively passed down from father to son; Maya Sona Jobarteh is first female member of such a family to rise to prominence on this traditionally male-dominated instrument.[71] Lastly, the art of griots also has great global influences, especially in regard to the freestyling of  hip hop. For instance, a hip hop group called Freestyle Fellowship (Aceyalone, Myka 9, and Self Jupiter and P.E.A.C.E.) released a successful album titled Innercity Griots (1993).[72]

Playlist of Songs by Contemporary WEST AFRICAN (mainly Women) Griots/Singers:

  1. Khaira Arby (the Timbuktu Diva) Desert Blues (2008), Hacha Allah (2012)
  2. Bako Dagnon, Sidiba (2016)
  3. Siramori Diabate, Sara (1940s), Banide (1972)
  4. Fatoumata Diawara, Nterini (2018), Sonkolon (2019)
  5. Mamani (grandmother) Keita, Kanou (2014, World Village)
  6. Ami Koita, Mamaya (1989)
  7. Babani Kone, Maliba (2016), Noumou (20106, Dagamaissa)
  8. Mariam Kone, Dakan (2013)
  9. Kandia Kouyaté, Renaissance (2015)
  10. Tata Bambo Kouyaté, Tara (1990)
  11. Aya Nakamura, Djadja (2018)
  12. Inna Modja, Forgive Yourself (2015), Outlaw (2015), Water (2015)
  13. Sona Jobarteh (born in London), Sahel (2009), Motherland (2009 film)
  14. Trio Da Kali (Album: Ladilikan), Eh Ya Ye (2020)
  15. Djely Tapa, Home (2020)
  16. Rokia Traore, Dounia (2000s), Ile (2016)

Southern Africa (South Africa v. the United States) and Protest Songs

History of African Gumboot Dance v. Westernized Stepping, STOMP and Tap Dancing:

The Wellington boot takes its name from the British Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) who tasked his shoemaker to improve the Hessian boot. It was originally made from calfskin leather and treated with wax. In South Africa, this footwear became known as gumboots, made out of rubber and were worn by black miners who work in the gold mines of Johannesburg.[73] The miners came from far places including Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, Botswana, and Lesotho. Working deep underground in dark and damp tunnels, these miners were oppressed and mistreated. They were prohibited to speak to each other; if they talked, they were severely punished. Gumboot dancing was invented as a form of codified protestations where miners from different ethnic and language groups were forbidden to communicate. This restriction forced the miners to develop a non-verbal language where they use their gumboots and bodies as instruments of protest and communication. Gumboot dancing is still performed in South Africa, but it is now as a form of entertainment rather than expression of protest.

In the United States, stepping or step-dancing has deep roots from Africa, and gumboot dancing is one of its biggest influences. Stepping’s modern-day roots began in the early 1900s when organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council held “Greek Sings.”[74]  Stepping is a form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps. Though stepping may be performed by an individual, it is generally performed by groups of three or more, often in arrangements that resemble military formations. Stepping is now a worldwide phenomenon practiced amongst people of all ages from drill teams, churches, high schools to college fraternities and sororities and more. That grand tradition of unity and camaraderie in step has been passed through generations of organizations. In comparison, STOMP is a percussion group, originating in Brighton, United Kingdom that uses the body and ordinary objects to create a physical theatre performance using rhythms, acrobatics and pantomime. STOMP has become an off-Broadway theater production with shows mainly in London and New York. In 2006, Stomp’s New York production passed its 5000th performance mark.[75

Short List of Dance Videos on Gumboot, Stepping, STOMP, and the Nicholas Brothers:

History of Gumboot

History of Gumboot and Stepping:

Kliptown Gumboot Dance:

The Gumboot Show:

Stepping and Gumboot:

Art of Stepping:

STOMP Newspaper:

STOMP Brooms:

Nicholas Brothers:

South Africa’s and USA’s National Anthem:

Why are there two separate songs? South Africa’s national anthem, often referred to as ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’, is actually composed of two separate songs. The first is the African National Congress’ official anthem, ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (Lord, Bless Africa)’. The second is ‘Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The Call of South Africa)’, which was the country’s national anthem during Apartheid. When South Africa won the Rugby World Cup back in 1995, the powers that be officially decided to acknowledge both songs as national anthems.[76] The anthems were played alongside each other at the tournament, and two years later, they merged into one song. South Africa’s national anthem features 5 of the most widely spoken official languages: Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and English. (Cry Freedom, 1987)

Apartheid, BLM Movement, and Protest Songs:

The end of apartheid might have removed the legal framework of institutionalized racism in South Africa, but racism remains a prevalent issue for Black Africans.

Women musicians like Miriam Makeba (known as Mama Africa) played an important role during the rebellion against apartheid. The Grammy award winner openly opposed the apartheid regime, lost her citizenship because of her activism, was exiled in the United States.[77] Soon after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, Makeba learned that her mother had died; when she tried to return home for the funeral, she found that her South African passport had been cancelled. Makela met te American actor Harry Belafonte in London, and later was adopted as his protege. In 1990 after apartheid ended, Makeba returned to South Africa and continues to introduce the world to South African music, and its political struggles. The Afro-pop dance song Pata Pata (1967) means “touch touch” in the Xhosa language and was popularized internationally by Makeba. On the night of her death (age 76), Makeba (1932-2008) performed “Pata Pata” just before she collapsed on stage.[78]

Africa’s Freedom Songs: Ndodemnyama we Verwoerd was written in the 1950s by the iconic Vuyisile Mini, a singer and ANC member who wrote some of the most influential resistance songs in the early years of apartheid.[79] The song carried a fierce warning to Hendrik Verwoerd, then prime minister and the “Architect of Apartheid.” Directly translated from isiXhosa to English, the lyrics read:

Naants’ indod’ emnyama Vervoerd! Pasopa nantsi’ ndodemnyama, Verwoerd!

Here is the black man, Verwoerd! Watch out, here is the black man, Verwoerd![80]

On November 6, 1964, Vuyisile Mini and two other prominent apartheid activists: Wilson Khayinga and Zinakile Mkaba, were walking to the gallows to be executed. The three men were charged with 17 counts of sabotage and other crimes including the death of Sipho Mango, an alleged police informer.[81] As an act of defiance and warning to the white ruler Verwoerd, the three men sang the song Ndodemnyama we Verwoerd! Despite international calls for leniency, Mini and his comrades were executed and secretly buried in paupers’ graves at Rebecca Street Cemetery in Pretoria.[82] A year after Mini’s execution, Miriam Makeba released an album in 1965 with Harry Belafonte called An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba. It included a great version of Ndodemnyama we Verwoerd! that is part marabi and part jazz, a fully beguiling call and response, with a compelling beat that signal its audience to dance as well as protest.

Mzwakhe Mbuli (1963-), known as “The People’s Poet”, is a popular poet and Mbaqanga singer in South Africa.[83] He was born in Sophiatown, a suburb of Johannesburg and a legendary black cultural hub destroyed under apartheid. By the late 1940s, Sophiatown had a population of nearly 54,000 Africans, 3,000 Colored, 1,500 Indians, and 686 Chinese.[84] On 9 February 1955, 2,000 policemen, armed with handguns, rifles and clubs, forcefully moved black families to Meadowlands and the government bulldozed the town.[85] Sophiatown is a great comparison and contrast to the Tulsa Massacre where Black residents were attacked, and their homes and business were burned and destroyed for 18 hours (May 31-June 1, 1921).

Throughout the 1980s, Mbuli was repeatedly detained and denied a passport to travel. His international career began in 1990 in Berlin, Germany sharing the stage with Miriam Makeba. Mbuli performed at the funeral of Chris Hani, the head of the South African Communist President who was assassinated, as well as at the presidential inauguration Nelson Mandela. In 1996, he joined Peter Gabriel, Youssour N’dour and other prominent African artists to record the Aids Album. In 1990, he was profiled in the documentary film Songolobo: Voices of Change. He was convicted for armed robbery in 1999 and released in 2003; his supporters insisted that he was framed by the government, and in 2003.[86]  Some of Mbuli’s protest albums include: Change Is Pain (1987), Patriotic Love (2013), Born Free, But Always in Chains (2015). Robert Christgau describes the lyrics of Mbuli’s 1992 album Resistance Is Defence as a tour of the apartheid struggle:

South African pop moves cozy up to African American notions of sophistication, and South African pan-Africanist moves graft a fabricated tradition onto a musical history with no parallel in Africa or anywhere else. Mbuli’s fusions are more visionary and more local. Singing or chanting mostly in English or Zulu but occasionally in Xhosa or Venda, his relaxed, pantribal township jive owes all the urban South African styles–mbaqanga, kwela, marabi, even a little mbube. It’s pop on South Africa’s own terms, too swinging for retro and too jumpy for slick. What’s more, this man didn’t start out as a musician–like Linton Kwesi Johnson, he’s just a poet who loves music enough to do it right. Although he’s not as learned as LKJ, his songs are as complete a tour of the apartheid struggle as you’re likely to get without reading–and his lyric sheet is a good place to begin.[87]

In the contemporary African scene, the birth of DJing in South Africa is complex but inevitable after apartheid. Once international sanctions were lifted in the 90s with the end of apartheid, South Africa went DJ crazy. Music records flooded the markets and international DJing like Mother Raves, Sasha and David Morales arrived. The massive Johannesburg raves of 20,000 capacity fueled the popularity of street and dance music as well as the country’s own homegrown talents, and underground scene.[88]

Playlist of South African and U.S. Music (Protest Songs and Dances)

Gumboot v. Stepping, STOMP and Tapping (Nicholas Brothers)

TED Talk Dance as Protest

Solomon Linda, Mbube (Zulu for Lion, 1939)

Peter Seeger of The Weavers, Wimoweh (1949)

The Tokens, The Lion Sleeps Tonight (1961)

Filmmaker Francois Verster, A Lion’s Trail (2001 Film)

National Anthems Links:

USA (English):

South Africa (in Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans and  English):

Cry Freedom (1987 film) Epilogue displays a long list of anti-apartheid activists (including Biko), who died under suspicious circumstances as imprisoners of the South African government whilst the song Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika is sung.

Enoch Sontonga, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa, 1897)

DRC (French),

Kenya (Swahili/English),

Egypt (Arabic),

Mail (French/English),

A short list of South Africa’s “Freedom Songs”:

Strike Vilakazi, Meadowlands (1956)

Miriam Makeba, Qongqathwan (Click Song, 1963), A Luta Continua,

Vuyisile Mini, Ndod’emnyama we Verwoerd (1950s)

Miriam Makeba, Ndod’emnyama (Beware Verwoerd, 1965)

Black Coffee ft. Samthing Soweto, Ndod’emnyama (2018)

Abdullah Ibrahim, Mannenberg (1974)

Peter Gabriel, Biko (1980)

Artists United Against Apartheid, Sun City (1985)

Stevie Wonder, It’s Wrong (Apartheid), (1985)

Youssou N’Dour, Nelson Mandela (1986)

Hugh Masekela (exile artist), Bring Him Back Home (1987), Stimela (1994)

Eddy Grant, Gimme Hope Jo’Anna (1988)

Johnny Clegg and Savuka, Asim’bonanga (1988)

Paul Simon, Graceland (1989 Album)

Brenda Fassie, Black President, (1990)

Prophets of da City, Never Again, (1995)

Yvonne Chaka Chaka, The Power of Afrika (1996 Album)

Sipho ‘Hot Stix’ Mabuse, Nelson Mandela (1999)


A short list of “Freedom Songs” from other African Countries:

Khadja Nin, Free — Sina Mali, Sina Deni (1992)

K’naan, Somalia (2009)

Ismael Lo (the Bob Dylan of Africa), Jammu Africa (2012)

Angelique Kidjo, Olofoofo (2017), Afirika (2019)

A short list of USA “Freedom Songs”:

Harry Dixon Loes, This Little Light of Mine (1920s, Loes never claimed credit)

Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit (1939)

Lucille Simmons, We Shall Overcome (1945)

Pete Seeger, We Shall Overcome (1947)

Joan Baez, We Shall Overcome  (1963)

Sam Cooke, A Change Is Gonna Come (1964)

Nina Simone, Four Women (1966), Mississippi Goddam, I Shall Be Released

Aretha Franklin, To Be Young, Gifted and Black (1972)

Bob Marley, Redemption Song (1980)

Public Enemy, Fight the Power (1989)

Bikini Kill, Rebel Girl (1993)

Mavis Staples, Wrote a Song for Everyone (2010)

Kayne West, POWER (2010, Profanity)

Alfredo urrutia Akaa Chicken, Los Tigres Del Norte – Somos Mas Americanos (2011)

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, We the Common (For Valerie Bolden, 2013)

Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014)

A Tribe Called Quest, We The People (2016)

Beyonce, Formation (2016, Explicit), Schoolin’ Life (2011)

Mona Haydar, Hijabi (2017)

H.E.R., I Can’t Breathe (2020), The Lord is Coming (BET Award 2019)

Dax, Black Lives Matter (2020)

David Strickland, Spirit of Hip Hop (2020)

Raphael Saadiq x Tori Kelly x Andra Day, Humxn Race (2020)

DaBaby, ROCKSTAR (63rd Grammy, 2021)

YouTube’s Top 10 BLM Songs 2020 (Explicit)

Dances: YouTube’s Fornite Compilation 2020 (Profanity)

Dances: YouTube’s TikTok Compilation 2020 (Profanity)

List of South African DJs: DJ Black Coffee (Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo)

Master KG, Jerusalema (ft. Nomcebo), #JerusalemaDanceChallenge on TikTok.

South African youngest DJ
Others: DJ Shimza, DJ Euphonik, DJ Maphorisa, DJ Tira, DJ Sbu, and DJ Oskido.

Teaching Strategies

The following teaching strategies will be employed:

1) Listening is an important skill for all learners (ELA Standards). For children with musical intelligence, listening to music, rhythms and patterns are the best pathways to help them learn all subjects. With better listening skills, students can pick up on nuances easily. Music from Africa will challenge students with unfamiliar but interesting sounds, and provide opportunities to practice identifying rhythms and language patterns.

2) Singing songs, reciting rhymes, and speaking spoken words are great ways to get students to decipher music with verbal and written codes and symbols. For ELL students, learning a new language demands them to analyze what they hear by identifying characteristics, patterns and grammar, and new concepts.  For example, students can create songs, raps, musical mnemonics to learn the names of the 54 countries in Africa.

3) Find that song with Google Hum. The Hum to Search feature is available in the Google mobile app and works with humming, whistling, or anything else you can do to mimic a tune. The results aren’t always accurate, but it’s a good place to start and a fun tool for students to master.

4) Creating African musical instruments with Mathematics & Science standards: To teach multiplication tables, I have them recite to music to allow students to learn it in a singsong tune. To learn about sound and vibration, students can use their voice as well as make instruments to demonstrate scientific concepts and laws. Examples: whistles made out of straws, bottles and/or paper, guitars made out of rulers, rubber bands and/or tissue boxes, drums made out of metal cans and balloons, rattles made out of beads, bottle caps, etc.

5) Visualizing Geography of Africa with Google Maps, Google Earth, YouTube videos, online games, and other virtual tools.

6) Writing observations and personal narratives with graphic organizers such as Elements of Music and Descriptive Words (see below chart):

Elements of Music Musical and Descriptive Words
1) rhythm beat, meter, syncopation
2) tempo fast, brisk, upbeat, quick, moderate, slow, gradual, even, frantic, diminishing, energetic, joyful, melancholic, rapid, steady, lively
3) dynamics decrescendo, pianissimo, piano, forte, fortissimo
4) melody pitch, theme, conjunct, disjunct
5) harmony chord, progression, consonance, dissonance, key, tonality
6) tone color register, range, instrumentation
7) textures biphonic, polyphonic, homorhythmic, heterophonic, monophonic
8) timbre loud, soft, brassy, gentle, natural, melodious, strong, smooth, rich, distinct, deep, thick, mellow, shrill, reedy, thin, breathy, rounded, full, clear, piercing, harsh, warm, resonant, bright, dark, flat, light
9) form binary, ternary, strophic, through-composed
10) effects of music soothe, excite, relax, stimulate, calm, enlighten, frighten, focus, heal, stir, invigorate, rejuvenate, restore, empower, incite, uplift

Learning Objectives:

1) Students will listen, compare and contrast, and discuss protest songs from five countries of Africa and the United States in order to understand how the exploitation of slave labors was used to build and profit the Western world and the privileged few.

2) Students will explore how indigenous and traditional African music influence contemporary musicians to support social and political movements like Black Lives Matter.

4) Students will design and play instruments based on African traditions such as the hindewhu (whistle), water drumming, talking drum, etc.

5) Students will create playlists of songs on thematic topics such as anti-racism, social justice, climate change, etc. in order to gain a new appreciation of cultures of Africa.

6) Students will write their own personal narrative, song lyrics and/or poetry.

Classroom Activities

Scope and Sequence
Week 1 Math Connection: Central Africa (DRC) and East Africa (Kenya)

Day 1: Introduction of Africa Misconceptions

Day 2: Overview of African Geography

Day 3: Pygmy Music, the Origin Story, and Whistles

Day 4: Youth Culture: Kenya Hip Hop v. United States Hip Hop

Week 2 ELA Connection: Northern Africa (Egypt) and West Africa (Mali)

Day 1: Ancient v. Contemporary Egypt

Day 2: The Mali Empire v. Contemporary Mali

Day 3 and 4: Identities: Storytelling and Woman Griots

Week 3 History Connection & Advocacy: South Africa and U.S.A

Day 1: Apartheid and Jim Crow laws

Day 2: South African and U.S.A National Anthem

Day 3 and 4: Protest Songs (Gumboot Music and Black Lives Matter)

Week 1: Math Connection, Maps of Africa, particularly Central (DRC) and East (Kenya)

Day 1, Introduction of Africa Misconceptions.

Refer to narrative under the heading Content Objective: Kickoff with pictures and vocabulary words of misconceptions about Africa. Examples: DRC (rain forest), Kenya (safari), Egypt (pyramid), Mali (desert), South Africa (a village) and U.S.A (Philadelphia, Rocky Statue). Take virtual tours on Google Earth and/or watch YouTube videos about the 5 countries. Below is a list of maps and videos to understand the complex and some disrupted geography of Africa.

Map Blank:

Map Quiz:

Map Quiz (Q&A):




Map Ethnic Conflict:

Map Countries:

Map Clickable:

Map True Size:

Map Flags:

Large Map Labelling Countries:

Map Pygmy:

Mali Empire:

Map Arab Speaking:

Maps Music Instruments:

Maps Apartheid:

List of Song about countries of Africa

Africa Song:

Song Africa Countries:

Song Countries of the World:

Song DR Congo:

Song Kenya:

Song Egypt:

Song Mali:

Song South Africa:

Additional in-depth videos to get an overview of the 5 countries and other topics:





South Africa:




African Borders Explained:

Day 2, Overview of African Geography

Distribute a blank map of Africa and the chart: Africa in Five Regions (see below).

Online Quiz for assessment:

Collaborative Activity: Divide the class into five groups for the five regions. Have students use pre-cut color squares (suggested 1 inch by 1 inch), write the names of the African countries in their group on each square, and glue the country-squares on a blank large chart paper using the outline of the map of Africa. Students may research online for maps of Africa in the process. Activity 2: Use Google Maps and/or Google Earth to take a virtual tour of each region or a country. Discuss why we have borders and who decides where to make the marks. Review vocabulary terms such as: continent, country/nation, state, city, types of maps (political, physical, topographic, geologic, bathymetric, climate, weather, economic, resource, road, time zone, zip code, income, DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, hybrid, and thematic.

There is no singularly accepted scope for what countries belong to each region of Africa. The question “How many countries are in Africa?” is still in debate. The UN says there are 54 sovereign African countries (with 48 in the mainland and 6 island nations), 2 disputed areas (Somaliland and Western Sahara), 2 French territories (Mayotte and Reunion), and one British territory (Saint Helena).

Chart: Africa in Five Regions and Five Countries
Region Total number of countries Country of Focus Capital and Anthem Official languages
1) Central


DRC was a Belgian colony until 1960

9 (more than 70% of the region is rural): Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad,

DRC, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon,

San Tome & Principe.


(Former Zaire)


Unitary Semi-Presidential Constitutional Republic



4°19′S 15°19′E



Debout Congolais (French, Arise, Congolese”

French, Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili, Tshiluba


Motto: Justice – Peace-Work

2) East


Kenya was a British colony until 1963





14+2+1: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte (France Territory), Reunion (France Territory), Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Somaliland (disputed), South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda. Kenya


Unitary Presidential Constitutional Republic




1°16′S 36°48′E



Ee Mungu Nguye Yetu (O God of All Creation)

English and Swahili


Motto: Harambee (Let us all pull together)


3) North


Egypt was a British colony until 1922

6+1: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, Western Sahara (disputed) Egypt


Unitary Semi-Presidential Republic




30°2′N 31°13′E

Anthem: Bilady, Bilady, Bilady (My Country…)

Arabic and

Egyptian Arabic


Motto: Freedom, Socialism and Unity

4) West


Mali was a French colony until 1958

16+1: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, British Territory of Saint Helena. Mali


Unitary Semi-Presidential Republic currently under a military junta



12°39′N 8°0′W


Anthem: Le Mali



Motto: Un people, un but, une foi (One people, one goal, one faith)

5) South


South Africa was a British colony (until 1910)

9: Botswana, Eswatini (former Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe


Motto: ǃke e ǀxarra ǁke (ǀXam, Unity in Diversity)

South Africa


Unitary dominant party parliamentary Republic with an executive presidency



Pretoria (executive), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judicial)

Johannesburg (largest city)

26°12′16″S 28°2′44″E

National Anthem of South Africa

11 languages: English, Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Setswana, Sesootho, Xitsonga, Swati, Tshivenda, Ndebele
Day 3, Pygmy Music, the Origin Story, and Whistles

Play a song(s) from the Pygmy Music Playlist (Suggestion: The Ba-Benzélé Pygmies – Hindewhu/Whistle Solo). Ask students to write down observations and questions using a Notice and Wonder T-chart. Play a song(s) from the Westernized Pygmy Music Playlist (Suggestion; Zap Mama). Ask students: What is African music and what is Westernized music? Discuss: Is it ethical to use music made by the Pygmies for a profit, and then pay the Pygmy original musicians almost nothing for their contribution? Discuss racial slurs and profanity in popular culture like hip hop music and video games. Focus questions: How racial, gender, and class issues shape and impact the music industry?

Day 4, Youth Culture: Kenya Hip Hop v. United States Hip Hop

Play a song(s) from Kenya’s Hip Hop Playlist and ask students to write down observations and questions using a Notice and Wonder T-chart. Play a song(s) from the USA Hip Hop Playlist. Ask students: what is American Hip Hop and what is African Hip Hop? Discuss: Did the Africans steal Hip Hop from the United States or make their own genre of music?

Week 2: ELA Connection, North Africa (Egypt) and West Africa (the Mali Empire)

Day 1, Ancient Egypt

Ask students to jot down words or draw images that they associate with the country “Egypt” and “U.S.A.”. Play a song(s) from the traditional Egypt Playlist and then a song(s) from the contemporary Egypt Playlist. Have students compare traditional and contemporary music using a Venn Diagram and the list of descriptive music words

Day 2, The Mali Empire:

Ask students to draw a king AND a queen. Discuss characteristic traits and how race and gender play an important role with questions such as: Does a king have more power than a queen? Does a king or queen have to be white? Show the 1375 Catalan Atlas of Mansa Musa holding an Imperial Golden Globe. Play a song(s) from the traditional Mali Griot Male and then a song(s) from the contemporary Mali Women Griots Artists. Discuss the element of a narrative. How do you tell a story with music?

Day 3 and Day 4, Identities: Griot Storytelling and Contemporary Women Artists

Introduce the call-and-response techniques and explain that it is deeply rooted in African culture and other world cultures. For instance, the teacher calls out: “My identity is…” and students respond: “… my story!” Analyze the lyrics from the Egypt or Mali Playlist with a Narrative element graphic organizer. Ask students if they have to write a story of their own life, what title would they use (use the six-word memoir as a model). What would it sound like? What would be the theme and plot? Watch a variety of DIY African instruments and ask students to choose an instrument for their life theme song. Have students write a narrative without a graphic organizer detailing the plot.

Week 3: History and Advocacy Connection, South Africa and the USA

Day 1, Apartheid (South Africa) and Jim Crow laws (U.S.A)

Discuss the terms segregation, apartheid, and Jim Crow laws. Play a protest song from South Africa playlist and a protest song from the U.S.A (BLM) playlist. What are some common themes? What are the different perspectives about social justice? OR use a “Notice and Wonder” T-chart for students to jolt down notes as they listen carefully.

Day 2, South African and U.S.A National Anthem

Discuss the term “identity”. Ask how you would describe your individual identity and compare it to our classroom, school, city, state, and national identity, Play the National Anthem of South Africa with the lyrics in the different languages in closed caption. Have students (especially ELL students) sing along phonetically. Ask what words identify a country like South Africa or the United States.

Challenge to students: Can you sing the national anthem of South Africa phonetically?

During apartheid: Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (Lord, Bless Africa):

(Afrikaans): Uit die blou van onse hemel, Uit die diepte van ons see,

Oor ons ewige gebergtes, Waar die kranse antwoord gee.

(English) Sounds the call to come together, And united we shall stand,

Let us live and strive for freedom, In South Africa our land.

After apartheid: Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (The Call of South Africa:

(Xhosa) Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo

(Zulu)Yizwa imithandazo yethu, Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho Iwayo.

(Sesotho) Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso, O fedise dintwa le matshwenyego,

O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso, Setjhaba sa, South Afrika, South Afrika.

Play the National Anthem of the United States with lyrics in closed caption and discuss how the two national anthems are similar and/or different. .


2) Optional: Colin Kaepernick timeline: from protests to a Nike campaign

Day 3 and 4, Protest Songs and Dances (Gumboot, Stepping, and STOMP):

Discuss the First Amendment and the right to protest peacefully. Give a brief history of Gumboot, stepping and STOMP. Play a video of the three different dance genres, and ask students to notice similarities and differences. Play a song(s) from the South African’s Protest Songs Playlist and a song(s) from the USA Black Lives Matters Playlist. Have students choose words from the Declaration of Independence and/or the Constitution that the songs remind them of. For example, the First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Other topics of comparison: 1) Sharpeville massacre v. Jim Crow era, 2) Sophiatown v. Tulsa massacre.

Final Day of the Unit Suggestions:

Play songs, dances and films to celebrate the end of the unit. Below is a short list.

Playing for Change:

Jerusalema Dance Challenge:

Makanaka, Celebrate Africa:       Home. Celebrate Africa:

Jump Shamador:

Film Human’s Musics:

African Relaxing Music:

Show students and discuss the diverse talents of South. A good choice is the 2021 YouTube interview by South African host Trevor Noah (comedian) from The Daily Show of South African guests: Zozibini Tunzi (Miss Universe 2019), DJ Black Coffee, Nelson Makamo (visual artist), Nomzamo Mbatha (actress), Thusa Mbedu (actress) and Charlize Theron (actress).

Optional Activity related to BLM Movement in School: Last 2020-2021 school year, my 4th graders participated in an Opera Philadelphia Art Residency, and music really helped them to openly express their emotions. I’ve designed a lesson for students to discover new relationships between hip hop, opera, and other music genres by discussing the 13 principles of the BLM movement. Students were assigned the task to align each principle with a protest songs, artworks, poetry, and personal narrative on a shared Google Slides.


Teacher Google Slides and Resources

Google Slides on Pygmy Music (view only)

Google Slides on BLM’s 13 Principals (view only)

Annotated Bibliography

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Abdallah, K. (1977) The Liberation of Swahili from European Appropriation. Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau. Google Scholar

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “Transcript: The Danger of a Single Story.” TED, 2009.

“African High Life Music,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. n.d.

Arom, Simha. Polyphonies Et Polyrythmies Instrumentales D’Afrique Centrale: Structure Et méthodologie. Editions Delatour France, 2019.

Bales, Kevin (2004). New Slavery: A Reference Handbook, Second Edition, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004, pp. 55-68.

Bodomo, Adams. “Africa: Sending Money Back Home Beats Foreign Aid.” Africa in Fact. April 1, 2013.

Bryceson, Deborah Fahy. “The Scramble in Africa: Reorienting Rural Livelihoods.” World Development 30.5 (2002): 725–39.

Chamberlain, Muriel E. “The Scramble for Africa,” 3rd ed. London: Routledge, 2010.

Chang, Jeff. Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. Picador, 2020.

Devin, Luis. “BakaWater Drums.” Before Farming. 2012.

“Early African-American Music: A Bibliography: Digital Music Resources.” Library of Congress: Research Guides, 2021

“Egypt’s Music of Protest.” MERIP, October 21, 2016.

Elliott, Mary, and Jazmine Hughes. “A Brief History of Slavery That You Didn’t Learn in School.” The New York Times, August 19, 2019.

Epstein, Edmund. The Language of African Literature. Africa World, 1998.

Estrella, Espie. “African Music.” Music Education. March 1,  2014.

Floyd, Jr., Samuel A. The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States, Jan. 1, 1995.

Hale, Thomas A. “Griottes: Female Voices from West Africa.” Research in African Literatures 25, no. 3 (1994): 71-91.

Hitchcock and Lee. African Hunter-Gatherers: Survival, History, and Politics of Identity. African Studies Monographs. 2001. 257-80.

Hoffman, Barbara. “Male Gods & Female Griots: Two Cases of Sexism and (Trans)Gendered Translation in African Languages.” Mande Studies. 2016. 93-108. Accessed April 21, 2021.

Huey, Steve “Zap Mama -Artist Biography.” 2021.

Irigaray, Luce, and Michael Marder. “Perhaps Cultivating Touch Can Still Save Us.” Building a New World, 2015, 272–83.

Kisliuk, Michelle, Colin Turnbull, Jean-Pierre Hallet, Louis Sarno, & Larry Blumenfeld. “Echoes of the Forest: Music of the Central African Pygmies.” Ethnomusicology 41, no. 1. 1997.

Magu, Stephen. “Toa Kitu Kidogo: Corruption Scandals and Their Global Impacts.” 2018, 77–96.

Michalopoulos, Stelios, and Elias Papaioannou. “The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa.” American Economic Review. 2016.

Mitchell, T. (ed.) “Global Noise: rap and hip-hop outside the USA.” Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press. 2001.

Ong, A. “Cultural citizenship as subject-making: immigrants negotiate racial and cultural boundaries in the United States.” Current Anthropology 37 (5): 737–62. 1996.

Pakenham, Thomas. The Scramble for Africa. Little, Brown: 2015.

Mohamed, Adnan Adams. “Pervasive Mismanagement Cause of Economy Woes.” News Guide to Africa. March 30, 2021

Mutume, Gumisai. “African women battle for equality.” African Renewal. July 2005

Pareles, Jon. “Angélique Kidjo Connects with Africa’s Next Musical Generation.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 June 2021,

“Rhythmic Imagination in African Music.” The Library of Congress, n.d.

“Rhythms the Gumboots Show – Jerusalema Dance Challenge (Master KG).” YouTube, November 7, 2020.

Sarno, Louis. Song from the Forest: My Life among the Pygmies, April 7, 2015.

Shumba, Ano, and Butchie Seroto. “Protest Music in South Africa.” Music In Africa, December 4, 2014.

Schellenberg, E. Glenn. “Music Lessons Enhance IQ.” Psychological Science 15, no. 8. 2004.

Swedenburg, Ted. “Egypt’s Music of Protest,” Middle East Report 265, Winter 2012.

Accessed June 17, 2021.

TEDtalksDirector. “The Danger of a Single Story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.” YouTube. October 7, 2009.

“The History of Gumboot Dancing : A South African Story (Full Video).” YouTube. November 16, 2020.

Turnbull, Colin. The Forest People, 1961.

Woodall, Angela. “Hip-Hop Film Portrays New Kenya Revolution.” East Bay Times. August 17, 2016.



[1 & 2] Adichie, Chimamanda. Transcript of ‘The Danger of a Single Story. TED. 2009.

[3] Clark, Msia Kibona. “Africa: The Rise of African Hip Hop.”, October 1, 2007. (accessed June 17, 2021).

[4 & 5] Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana. “The Whole of Africa Was the Cradle of Humankind.” ScienceDaily. 2018 (Accessed May 20, 2021).

[6] “Slave: Search Online Etymology Dictionary.” Index, n.d. (Accessed June 10, 2021).

[7 & 8] Bales, Kevin (2004). New Slavery: A Reference Handbook, Second Edition, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004, pp. 55-68.

[9] Elliott, Mary, and Jazmine Hughes. “A Brief History of Slavery That You Didn’t Learn in School.” The New York Times. The New York Times, August 19, 2019.

[10] Meredith, Martin (2014). The Fortunes of Africa. New York: Public Affairs. p. 191.

[11] Irigaray, Luce, and Michael Marder. “Perhaps Cultivating Touch Can Still Save Us.” Building a New World, 2015, 272–83.

[12] Epstein, Edmund L., and Robert Kole. The Language of African Literature. Africa World, 1998.

[13] Schellenberg, E. Glenn. “Music Lessons Enhance IQ.” Psychological Science 15, no. 8 (2004): 511–14.

[14 & 15] “5 Ways the African Music Industry Is Changing Its Own Narrative.” Music Industry Insights, October 7, 2020. Retrieved June 10, 2021.

[16] School Profiles, n.d. Accessed June 21, 2021.

[17 & 18] Boddy-Evans, Alistair. “Why Was Africa so Rapidly Colonized?” ThoughtCo. n.d. Accessed June 12, 2021.

[19] Brann, Conrad Max Benedict. Official and National Languages in Africa: Complementarity of Conflict? Centre international de recherche sur le bilinguisme, 1985.

[20] Idolor, Emurobome. ”Strategizing Globalisation for the Advancement of African Music Identity.” Journal of Social Sciences. 2007. 107-108.

[21] CIA Factbook. 2012.

[22 & 23]  Zinkina J., Korotayev A. “Explosive Population Growth in Tropical Africa: Crucial Omission in Development Forecasts (Emerging Risks and Way Out).” World Futures. 2014. 20–139

[24 & 25] Dearden, Nick. “Africa Is Not Poor, We Are Stealing Its Wealth.” Business and Economy | Al Jazeera. May 24, 2017.

[26] Magu, Stephen. “Toa Kitu Kidogo.” Corruption Scandals and Their Global Impacts. 2018. 77–96.

[27] Mohammed, Adnan Adams. “Pervasive Mismanagement’ Cause of Economy Woes.” News Guide to Africa. March 30, 2021

[28] “Sahara Desert.” Africa: Sahara Desert, Geography. n.d.

[29]  “Africa’s 10 Iconic Women Leaders.” This Is Africa. February 19, 2015.

[30] Nsehe, Mfonobong. “The 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa.” Forbes Magazine. December  7, 2011.

[31, 32, & 33] Pareles, Jon. “Angélique Kidjo Connects with Africa’s Next Musical Generation.” The New York Times,  June 17, 2021.

[34 & 35] Mutume, Gumisai.“African women battle for equality.” African Renewal. 2005 Accessed June 15, 2021.

[36] Bodomo, Adams. “Africa: Sending Money Back Home Beats Foreign Aid.” Africa in Fact. April 1, 2013.

[37] Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, n.d. Accessed June 2021.

[38 &39] Huey, Steve “Zap Mama – Artist Biography.” 2021.

[40] Turnbull, Colin M. The Forest People / Colin M. Turnbull. Simon & Schuster, 1961.

[41] Kisliuk, Michelle, Colin Turnbull, Jean-Pierre Hallet, Louis Sarno, and Larry Blumenfeld. “Echoes of the Forest: Music of the Central African Pygmies.” Ethnomusicology 41, no. 1 (1997): 165.

[42] Arom, Simha. Polyphonies Et Polyrythmies Instrumentales D’Afrique Centrale: Structure Et méthodologie. Editions Delatour France, 2019.

[43] Devin, Luis. “Baka Water Drums.” Before Farming. 2012. 1–11.

[44] Sarno, Louis. Song from the Forest. Trinity University Press, 2015.

[45, 46 & 47] Woodall, Angela. “Hip-Hop Film Portrays New Kenya Revolution.” East Bay Times. August 17, 2016.

[48] Nas. “Hip Hop Is Dead.” Genius. 2006

[49] Monae, Janelle. “Hell You Talmbout (Say Their Names).” Karaoke. 2015.

[50 and 52] “Umm Kulthum: The Voice of Egypt.” NPR. May 11, 2008.

[51] Evans, Jules. “The History of Emotions Blog.” March 20, 2015.

[53, 54 & 55,] Lotfi, Fatma. “Mahraganat: Controversy over barring Egyptian Street Popular Music.” Daily News Egypt. Feb. 23, 2020.

[56, 57, 58 & 59] “Egypt’s Music of Protest.” MERIP. October 21, 2016. Tanbura was on Tahrir Square every day,nationalist songs multiple times from various stages.

[60, 61 & 63] Blair, Elizabeth. “The Songs of The Egyptian Protests.” NPR. Feb. 11, 2011.

[62] “Egypt Youth Unemployment Rate 1991-2021.” MacroTrends, n.d.

[64] Smallberg, Rebecca. “Tell Me A Story: The Importance of Oral Storytelling.” Rose & Rex. August 13, 2017.

[65, 66] Coughlan, Michael, and Anthony Brennan. Sundiata: the African King. Rubicon Pub., 2008.

[67] Pelt, Jeremy. Griot. PeltJazz Publishing, 2021.

[68] “Afel Bocoum.” Highreaudio. n.d.

[69] Hale, Thomas A. “Griot.” African American Studies Center. 2010.

[70] Tsioulcas, A. “The Queen of Saharan Song, Khaira Arby, Has Died.” NPR. 2018.

[71] Jobarteh, Sona. “The Official Website.” Sona Jobarteh, n.d.

[72] “Inner City Griots – Freestyle Fellowship: Songs, Reviews, Credits.” AllMusic, December 31, 1969.

[73] “The fascinating story behind the birth of Gumboot dancing.” South Africa. n.d.

[74] Crystal A. deGregory. “This Is Why We ‘Step’: A History of Stepping in Black Greek-Lettered Life Culture.” Hbcustory. June 14, 2015.

[75] “History: STOMP: Official Site.” STOMP. n.d.

[76] Moore, Sian. “South Africa’s National Anthem: What Are the Lyrics and Why Are There Two Separate Songs?” Classic FM. November 1, 2019.

[77 & 78] “Biography of Miriam Makeba by Narcy Negrete.” South African History Online, n.d.

[79, 80, 81 & 82] “Vuyisile Mini.” South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid, n.d.

[83] Hannerz, Ulf. “Sophiatown: The view from afar.” Journal of Southern African Studies. June 2992. 20 (2): 185. doi:10.1080/03057079408708395

[84] Sindane, Lucky. “Remembering Sophiatown”. September 24, 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2017.

[85 & 86] Christgau, Robert. “Not Yet Uhuru: Mzwakhe Mbuli.” Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics. N.d.

[87] “ResistanceIs Defence.” Napster. n.d.

[88] Msjaie. “The Role of African DJs in the Rise of African Music.” Afromixx. 2020.

ELA Common Cores Standards:

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas RI.4.7 Interpret info. presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, or interactive elements on Web pages). Explain the info. contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears. Vocabulary: L.4.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies. Comprehension and Collaboration: SL.4.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own. Narrative Writing W.4.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Math Common Cores Standards: Geometry and Measurement Data 4.G.A.1: Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in 2-D figures. 4.MD.A.1: Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, cm, inches, feet, yards and miles.

PA Science Standards: Map scale and Sound 3.1.4.D.1. Identify the use of scale as it relates to the measurement of distance, volume and mass. 3.4.4.C.1. Identify characteristics of sound (pitch, loudness and echoes)

PA Social Studies Standards: Rights, Conflict, World History and USA History

5.2.4.A. Identify individual rights and needs and the rights and needs of others in the classroom, school, and community. 5.2.4.B. Describe the sources of conflict and disagreement and different ways conflict can be resolved.  5.3.4.F. Explain how different perspectives can lead to conflict.8.3.4.A and 8.4.4.A Differentiate common characteristics of the social, political, cultural and economic groups in U.S. and World History. 8.4.4.A and 8.4.4.B Locate historical documents, artifacts, and sites, which are critical to history. 8.3.4.C and 8.4.4.B Explain how continuity and change in U.S. and World History have influenced personal development and identity: Belief systems and religions, commerce and industry, technology, politics and government, physical and human geography, and social organizations 8.3.4.D and 8.4.4. D. Distinguish between conflict and cooperation among groups and organization that impacted the history and development: ethnicity and race, working conditions, immigration, military conflict and economic stability

Maps and Geography, 7.2.4.A Identify the physical characteristics of places and regions.7.3.4.A Identify the human characteristics of places and regions using the following criteria: population, culture, settlement, economic activities and political activities.

List of Children Books, Websites and Video Channels about Africa:

Agawu, Kofi. Rhythmic Imagination in African Music, January 26, 2017

Editors of Caterpillar Book, Illustrated Lindsey Sagar. African Music for Schools

Evolution of Hip Hop (1979-2017),

Falling in Africa,

Hip Hop History for Kids,

Grazing Back Home, 2020.

Pritchett, Dylan. The First Music: A Folktale from Africa

The Story of Rap Board Book, 2019.

YouTube Channels: Kids Learning Tube,  KidsTV123, Masaka Kids Afrikana.