Skip to Content

Africa's Great Civilizations

found in: social studies; 6-8; 9-12

In Marvel’s new movie Black Panther, the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda has successfully maintained its independence and pristine environment while the rest of Africa has suffered. (See Marvel’s Activity Packet.)

Historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes a look at the reality of African history in PBS’s six-hour series, Africa’s Great Civilizations (2017).
Six episodes open with the origins of humankind and conclude in the 19th century with European depredations. Five lessons for grade 6-9 social studies and history students are offered. Each Lesson includes national and state standards as well as support materials: background essay, discussion questions, follow up, and glossary. All materials can be printed. Three lessons explore Africa’s civilizations before European influence and one the Berlin Conference during which Africa was divided up by Europe’s powers for colonization.

The Aksum Kingdom: Trade and Ancient Africa | Africa's Great Civilizations  This lesson features three activities: mapping early trade routes, researching trade markets, and assessing the Stelae of Aksum and comparing them to other memorials of the ancient world.

The Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 This lesson has two activities. Students research the partitioning of the African continent and students closely read and compare Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden” and Mark Twain’s essay response to it in “To the Person Sitting in the Darkness.”

Other resources provided are a Map and an Image Gallery

Two additional resources from other sources provide further insight into African achievements before colonization.

Mali: Ancient Crossroads of Africa  (6-12) This unit has three lessons that can be used together or separately. The first one, West Africa Then and Now – Empires and Countries, asks students to compare current geo-political boundaries of Mali and surrounding nations with boundaries of the ancient West African empires.

Teaching Mathematics Using African Cultural Numerical History  ( PDF, 368 KB, 12 pgs.) (grade 9) In this unit, four lessons explore Sub-Saharan Africa and indigenous African mathematical systems.


Average User Rating (0 users)

3 stars
of 5.

Your Rating