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Africa Geography

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Ed Bruce

on 17 May 2015

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Transcript of Africa Geography

Africa - Geography
How has geography affected African history and culture over time?
How did European Colonization affect Africa? What are its lasting effects today?
The Supercontinent that existed 225 million years ago.
Africa was the center and has moved very little.
Mount Kilimanjaro
The highest mountain in Africa in Tanzania
Mount K has lost 80% of its ice over the last 50 years due to deforestation and global warming/climate change. Experts predict it will be ice free within the next 25-50 years.
Question: Why is ice loss on top of a mountain important?
Great Rift Valley
The Great rift valley is a region of Africa where East Africa is slowly pulling away from the rest of the continent. It will eventually fill in with ocean and East Africa will be an island like Madagascar.
As the valley was created, many lakes, rivers, and plateaus were formed.
The Afar Depression
An Area in Ethiopia where the separation of the great rift valley is very active and clear.
Climate Regions: Desert
The Deserts of Africa are some of the driest on earth.
Ex: Sahara, Namib, Kalahari deserts
The Sahara Desert is the largest on earth. (almost as big as the entire USA!)
Deserts in Africa are uninhabitable.
Climate Regions: Semi-Arid
Semi-Arid regions are very dry, but receive enough rain to support some agriculture, like herding.
The Sahel is a region south of the Sahara that is semi-arid. It is undergoing desertification thanks to climate change, overgrazing, deforestation and overpopulation.
Climate Regions – Tropical
Tropical regions receive six months of rain per year, and six months of dry weather.
Savannas dominate the tropical regions – almost 4.5million square miles. They are flat grasslands with scattered trees and shrubs
Climate Regions: Equatorial
The equatorial region is a narrow belt around the equator.
These regions received more balanced rain throughout the year (up to 60 inches).
Rainforests are found in the equatorial region.
Like the Sahel, Rainforests are being deforested.
African Resources
Metals: Copper, Tin, Uranium, Gold
Jewels: Diamonds, etc
African Resources
Trees (for wood, cocoa, nuts, bananas, etc)
Animals, scenery as tourism.
Are these resources really (easily) renewable?
African Resources
Trees (for wood, cocoa, nuts, bananas, etc)

Are these resources really (easily) renewable?
African Resources and the Economy
Natural Resources are the backbone of many African Economies, particularly since most nations do not have the industry or business to support themselves.
Commodities (raw material used for profit) are therefore very important, but can be limited.
Science in Social Studies
Think about it…

Water: Renewable or Non-renewable resource?
African Resources
Metals: Copper, Tin, Uranium, Gold
Jewels: Diamonds, etc
Big Idea - Why is water scarcity an issue in Africa?
Much of Africa is already Desert (about a third), but through desertification - that number could increase rapidly
The Sahel and Savannas are dry, delicate ecosystems that easily become desert due to climate change and human activity.
Africa also has the highest population growth rate in the world
What dangers come from this?
The Next Big War…
Ismail Serageldin, the former World Bank (international bank that provides money to developing countries) vice president, said, "The next world war will be over water."
How is this true for Africa?
Read Jeffrey Rothfeder’s article from the Boston Globe.
Write down four questions or discussion points you have after reading the article.
Renewable and Non-renewable resources
Some History
What important secrets of humanity’s origins does the Afar Depression contain?
What is a proto-society and how does it affect modern civilization?
How do trade routes and control of important commodities benefit a civilization?
How can the introduction of a new idea change society radically?
“The Cradle of Life”
Africa was the home of the earliest hominids - a family of primates from whom humans evolved.
The Cradle of Life: Lucy and Ardi
Lucy (australopithicus afarensis) is a 3.2 million year old hominid skeleton, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974.
Ardi (ardipithicus ramidus) is a 4.4 million year old hominid found in Ethiopia in 1992.
Both skeletons help anthropologists understand the ‘family tree’ of humanity.
How are cultures created?
Do they pop out of thin air?
Do they develop all by themselves?
Or, do they evolve from earlier cultures over time…
The Spread of Humanity
Theory - From Africa, early humans spread around the globe starting around 150,000 BCE.
As early humans spread and became civilized, cultures began to develop.
Proto-societies were the earliest human cultures, formed as people spread across the globe.
These societies formed the basis of many later cultures.
Ex: Many European, Indian, and Middle Eastern societies descended from an earlier group called the Proto Indo-Europeans.
The Bantu
The Bantu were a prehistoric proto-society that spread throughout Africa starting about 3000 years ago.
From the Bantu, later African societies learned agriculture, religious beliefs, iron working, and languages.
Many modern African cultures evolved from the Bantu and share similar customs and traits
Ex: Swahili and Zulu languages are Bantu
All humans can trace their roots back to Africa, where modern humans evolved.
Humans spread across the globe, starting about 150,000 years ago, and created cultures as they spread.
We have many ways of tracking the spread of people and cultures.
Artifacts (skeletons, objects, etc)
So, how do people and cultures spread??
A non-renewable resource is a natural resource which cannot be produced, grown, generated, or used on a scale which can sustain its consumption rate
A renewable resource is a natural resource with the ability of being replaced through biological or other natural processes and replenished with the passage of time.
Main Ideas
All humans can trace their roots back to Africa, where modern humans evolved.
Humans spread across the globe, starting about 150,000 years ago, and created cultures as they spread.
We have many ways of tracking the spread of people and cultures.
Artifacts (skeletons, objects, etc)
Caravans, Trade Routes, and Salt
Salt was an important trading commodity in ancient Africa because it was a preservative (for food) and an essential nutrient.
Salt mines in the Sahara were controlled by powerful empires, that based their society on the salt trade.
Caravans, Trade Routes, and Salt
Your friend in the desert: the camel.
Camels carry tons, need little water, and are biologically adapted to the desert.
Caravans of camels provided security and efficient transportation.
African Empires
Ghana Empire: 700 – 1200 c.e.
Mali Empire: 1240 – 1337 c.e.
Songhai: 1337 – 1590 c.e.
African empires gained power and wealth by controlling trade routes and important commodities like Salt and Gold.
Ghana was called “the Land of Gold and all travelers and merchants had to pay a tax of gold nuggets.
Once Islam was introduced to Mali, it became a cultural, architectural, and scientific center, especially Timbuktu.
African Empires
Ghana Empire: 700 – 1200 c.e.
Mali Empire: 1240 – 1337 c.e.
Songhai: 1337 – 1590 c.e.
African empires gained power and wealth by controlling trade routes and important commodities like Salt and Gold.
Ghana was called “the Land of Gold and all travelers and merchants had to pay a tax of gold nuggets.
Once Islam was introduced to Mali, it became a cultural, architectural, and scientific center, especially Timbuktu.
Mansa Musa
Mansa Musa was a Malian leader who was a Muslim. In 1324, he made a pilgrimage (spiritual journey) to Mecca, a holy Muslim city.
He convinced many scholars, artists, and builders to come back to Timbuktu.
This Golden Age made Mali one of the most advanced cultures on Earth at the time.
Mali’s Golden Age
Beautiful Mosques were built.
Universities were opened
Malian culture and art became important throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
What Caused the Decline of Africa’s Empires?
Check out this quote
"I couldn't help asking him once what he meant by coming here [to Africa] at all. 'To make money, of course. What do you think?' he said scornfully.“
-Heart of Darkness

What does this quote mean in the context of Europe’s role in Africa between 1500 and 1970?
What might it imply about the European relationship with Native Africans?
What were the first ‘resources’ that Europeans sought in Africa?
Slavery has existed throughout history in many cultures, but the European slave trade in Africa took a uniquely harsh toll on African society.

Between 1520 and 1860, Europeans forcibly traded 10-12 million Africans from their homes for sale in America. This estimate only counts slaves that arrived in America, many more died en route.
Slavery’s effects on African Societies
Slaves were selected for youth and strength.
A significant number of native Africans left were more susceptible to frequent slave raids
Guns were provided, this increased warfare and instability
Economic Activities of Africa: Agriculture
Agriculture: There are 2 types of agriculture
Subsistence Farming (majority): growing food crops like Millet and Sorghum to keep your family alive. Selling any surplus to help buy necessary goods.
Cash Crops: growing valuable tropical crops for export. Examples: Sugar, Cocoa, coffee, nuts
African Economic Activities: Artisans and Craftspeople
Craftspeople create goods out of leather, metal, or wood.
African art is valuable both at home and abroad
Musicians spread culture and act as historians
African Economic Activities: Minerals
Geologically, Africa is blessed with many valuable minerals, metals, and oil that can be traded and bring billions into the economies of African countries
Diamonds, gold, maganese, uranium, jewels, etc
Unfortunately, the profits from these commodities are often given to European, American, and Chinese companies, stolen by corrupt leaders, or used to Fund violent conflicts.
Workers in the mines are treated brutally, sometimes forced to work as slave laborers
Children are a source of cheap, easily controlled labor. Punishment for stealing is harsh.
Family Structures and living arrangements
Living arrangements of African cultures are more communal and based on extended family than American cultures.
History of Family Structures and the Role of Women
In some African cultures, women play a prominent role.
Heredity and power is passed down through the mother rather than father
Women are military and political leaders, as well as judges and providers.
Ex: Queen Amina (Greatest conqueror of the Nigeria region and its greatest military architect 1576-1610)
Ex: A UN development report demonstrated that most agriculture is produced by women.
European Colonialism and its effects on Africa
European Colonialism
Later, the slave trade was outlawed in most of Europe (1807) and eventually, America (1865).
Africa’s resources and markets powered Europe’s economic growth during the Industrial Revolution.
European nations competed for colonies in Africa.
Berlin Conference
In 1884, European powers met in Berlin to divide up the territories of Africa.
Leaders debated over valuable land, like:
Mines and Resources
Fertile Land
Native Africans WERE NOT represented at the conference.
As a result…
What do you think happened in Africa as a result of the Berlin conference?
Borders were drawn without regard for African culture, history, or society.
The resources of Africa were assumed to belong to Europeans.
Conflicts occurred over African territory in which Africans themselves were pawns.
Cecil Rhodes,
by Edward Linley
The Legacy of Colonialism
European imperial rule lasted for nearly a century. When African countries finally
became independent, many problems were left:
Africans had no tradition or ability to self-govern.
African nations had been robbed of their natural resources
African conflicts had been created, or made worse by Europeans
Ex: Rwanda and the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
Main Idea Review
For the last 500 years, European Empires and merchants divided up Africa’s resources, peoples, and lands for their own benefit, without regard for Africans or African culture.
Many problems in Africa today are a result of this colonial tyranny.
Let’s say that time travel allowed you to go back to the Berlin Conference.
What would you tell the leaders of Europe and America as they are dividing up Africa? Answer in a 1 page memo, use specific examples and explanation if you can.
Remember, Europeans drew borders without respect for tribes (or common sense) but rather around RESOURCES.
At the Berlin conference, France traded Britain a narrow strip around the Gambia River for extra territory in Sengal.
As a result, The Gambia is a tiny separate country completely surrounded by Senegal.
The two countries fight over access to the River, and the fighting is made worse by the fact that many Gambians consider themselves to be part Senegal in terms of culture and history.
Why would Britain want a piece of land at the mouth of a River?
What factors or events led to a movement for Independence?
Weakened European power and gave Africans a taste of independence

Some Africans were sent to Universities
They became educated (knowledge is power!) and developed a sense of nationalism.

The Pan African Congress brought African leaders together to plan and argue for independence.

During the 1950s and 1960s, nearly all African nations became Independent
When Nigeria gained independence from the UK in 1960, fighting immediately began.

Nigerians fought each other along tribal and religious lines.

The diverse peoples that the UK had held together were no longer under control.

Leaders protected only their tribe and/or were corrupt

In 1966, the Eastern part of Nigeria (called Biafra) broke away and a civil war followed
How is this similar to America’s experience after independence? How is it different?
Example of conflict/instability after independence - Nigeria
Ghana: A successful model for stability: 1992-present
Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast) achieved independence in 1957, but their early independence resulted in a series of coups and economic distress.

In 1979, Jerry John Rawlins took power in a military coup.

Rawlins suspended the Constitution

-Banned political parties
-The economy collapsed
-Millions fled
-Ghana looked like the typical failed African state.

HOWEVER, Rawlins slowly worked towards a Constitution to put limits on his own power. He resigned from the military(seperating military and political power - why is this important?!) and he united opposing tribes.

In 1992, he allowed an election, which he won, and in 2000, he gave up power peacefully after two terms.

Similarly, in 2009, there was another peaceful transition of power to the current president, John Atta Mills.

Ghana has developed a diverse economy, including mineral resources, industry, service, and tourism.
Ghana has become a model for success and prosperity in this region of Africa.

Sub Saharan Africa
South Africa and Apartheid
South Africa and Apartheid
South Africa was one of the first Colonies to gain independence from Europe (1910)
But, after independence, white South Africans dominated the majority blacks.
in 1948 an official policy of Segregation called Apartheid was adopted.
It wasn’t until 1991 that Apartheid ended.
What does apartheid remind you of in American history?
South Africa
In the 1650s, the Dutch (Netherlands) colonized South Africa.
They were drawn by its many mineral resources: diamonds, gold and by it’s farmland (veldt), which was good for grazing.
Over the next 250 years, Europeans fought over this valuable colony. At different times, it was Dutch, English, and French.
Dutch settlers who lived on the coast were called Afrikaners. Settlers who moved inland and farmed were called Boers.
apartheid (Dutch: apartness) was a forced policy of Segregation of black South Africas in effect form 1948 – 1991.
Apartheid was actually tougher than Segregation since blacks had no “separate but equal” rights.
The End of Apartheid
Pressure increased on the White South African gov’t in the 1970s and 80s to end apartheid.
The African National Congress protested both inside and outside of S. Africa.
Leaders like Nelson Mandela led protests. Mandela was jailed for 27 years.
The end of Apartheid
The United States, the UN, and other nations protested the policy as well.
Many nations enacted tough sanctions against South Africa to compel them to end apartheid
The end of Apartheid
In the late 80s and early 90s, the white South African government began to end Apartheid.
Willem de Klerk became president in 1989, vowing to end the policy. Mandela and other leaders were released.
In 1994, South Africa had its first free elections and Mandela was elected President
Based on the definition of a desert as an area receiving less than 10 inches (250 mm) of precipitation per year, the world's largest desert is actually the continent of Antarctica
Resource Activity
Water is technically renewable
BUT fresh water is finite (has limits)

Mainly due to population growth – more and more people need access to freshwater, so much that the ground and freshwater sources could be used up.
Quiz Time: try to guess how much water you use (in gallons) on a given day...

Hint: An average 10 minute shower can use about 40/50 gallons of water (depending on water pressure)

And, one toilet flush is about 2 gallons

After you guess your own individual usage, try to guess a an average (four person) American family uses in a given day
The Hutu
-mainly lie in Rwanda, Burundi, and DRC-Make up about 85% of Rwandans,
11 million in Africa
-made their way over during bantu expansion (200 ce)-Speak Rwandan Rundi, French
Warm up - In your notebooks – If you could have been present at the Berlin conference of 1884, what would you have told the European leaders to warn them of what happens in the future? What would you tell them? Why was the outcome of the Berlin conference bad for Africa?
The Tutsi
historically referred to as Watusi
Minority – about 15% 2.5 million in east Africa - Rwanda and burudiLanguage – Rwandan rundi, French
Why do we study history?

- Not to fill you with facts and dates
- To understand the complexity of the human story and...
"there is no way you can tell that
story in one way and say, that is it.
Always there will be someone who can tell it completely different depending on where they are standing"
"If you want to see it well, you must not stand in one place" - Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart: by Chinua Achebe

- Sheds light into pre colonization Africa (specifically Nigeria)
- Shows what pre colonization life was like in Africa

See other human beings as human beings.
"I verily believe that the far greater part of wars, in Africa, would cease, if the Europeans would cease to tempt them, by offering goods for sale" John Newton
Full transcript