Africa, Africa

There are a few completely ignored chapters in the history of the world. Examples include histories of South America, Native America and most callously, that of Africa. Am not even going to rant about the lack of ‘women’s history of the world’ etc etc. Nor amI going to wail about the lack of reasonable representations of Arabic, Indic and Fareastern ones, keave alone the natural history…

I recall with horror that even the so called ‘learned’ ones, and historically inclined ones would know very little about Africa, and if at all, they may remember some details about Cleopatra (thanks to  Asterix comics) and Mummies (thanks to horrendously hilarious ‘horror’ flicks from US – such as Mummy returns for the Nth time) – whereas for all practical purposes, Egypt is more a part of Asia than Africa. To top it all many a learned folk would call Africa, rather poetically (sic) the ‘Dark Continent!’

With some raking of the brain, some may even come out with names such as Nelson Mandela and ah, I forget the names of the cricketers – but, I reserve them for some future post.

Of course, lately, Africa has been reduced to studies on tribal massacres, internecine warfares, droughts  and occasional stunning  ‘nature’ documentaries, courtesy of ‘Discovery’ or BBC channels on the Idiot Box – on l.e.. ee…eee….aping gazelles and majestically waddling elephants and exotic backdrops and the stereotypical pygmies (!) hunting game.

The great American pulp film productions (there are also really bad German and French ones, to give discredit to them too) have distilled Africa, in their own infernal wisdom,  into sad (um, actually hilarious) & melodramatic films like ‘Tears of the Sun’ or that endlessly abominable ‘Gods must be crazy.’ Sheesh!

History after history books are written about “world” wars whereas those wars were actually fought between avaricious and blood-thirsty european nations and in limited territories. Of course hapless colonies were also drawn in – but even that wouldn’t make those pointless bloodsheddings, WORLD wars.

But am digressing, as is my wont. 😎

With erdkinder, among many other things, we have been  studying the topography of Africa, on which we have layered nations and boundaries, rivers and mountains. Fascinating details to me, of course. From the reaction of the children, I could see that they are fascinated too!

The idea is to look at various (wilfully and often sinfully) neglected things, from fascinating & engaging points of view – so that synthesis at higher levels of abstractions could take place in the impressionable and curious minds of the adolescents.

It is amazing what an encouraged child would passionately do – I am actually thrilled at how the curiosity of some children has been kindled – how they want to know more – how they kept poring over all kinds of information for many an hour – and how, coherently & logically they try to understand and assimilate various factors.

Now our erdkinder know a lot more about the topography and the layers of Africa than probably a civil servent (IFS) wanting to ‘serve’ in Africa.

Darfur? They know what sad things are going on in Sudan. Rwanda? They will soon see ‘Sometimes in April.’ Nigeria? They would soon know how Petroleum is actually a hindrance to development, at least there. They would know about slave trade. They would know about the incredible & brave civil society leaders. They will know about the great scientists – all from Africa. All them interesting thingies, while having fun.

They will have informed, learned & competent opinions on things that matter and that are of importance to us, as a society. They will not spend their time in front of dumb toys like  Sony PSP or discuss inane saas-bahu drivel on the Idiot Box aka TV or suffer from mall-nutrition and all that glitz. They will know how to separate chaff from the grain. They will learn to filter out noises from signals. They will develop finely tuned tastes and a sense of aesthetics, with a keen eye to observe and reflect on the inherent beauty in everything. This is my fervent hope.

They will be responsible and considerate children, having a healthy respect for things that one should have a healthy respect for. Hope, hope. I live on hope. I am an optimist. At least I would like to think so.

Now you may ask, what use this is, this Africa fetish – for the ‘secondary school leaving certificates’ of various kinds. I would be tempted to ask right back, Sir (0r Madam), which part of  ‘secondary’ that you can’t understand. Not. Sorry!

I feel that, SSLC exam of any kind, will not be able to test the range and depth of the capabilities of these young adults (or old children, depending on your perspective) – Anyway, with a little bit of focus, rigour and 7Ps we will handle the exam part of their graduation appropriately. So don’t you worry.

The answer to the question – but WHY? – can be answered by an equally simple – Why NOT? But, the real answer to the question would take a whole big post and I suppose you are too tired now. The answer would be at many levels, questioning our basic beliefs and internalized assumptions about what we think education is.

If at all someone asks, we will handle that later, okay? For those who would want to ask, the forum is always open in terms of comments to this (offending) post and I suppose WordPress allows threaded comments too!

In the meantime, rejoice with me, and peruse the quiz questions that our children reasonably handled – there were two rounds of them. There will be more. I have provided the scans of the questions. Answers, you can figure out yourself, if you want or you know, you can even ask!

Africa Quiz round #1

Africa Quiz round #1

Here’s the next…

Africa Quiz Round #2

Africa Quiz Round #2

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  • By South America Quiz « namma shaale on April 4, 2009 at 7:50 am

    […] 4, 2009 Please refet to Africa, africa – for the genesis of this series of ‘getting to know more about our world.’ – targetted […]

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