This enquiry deals with a particularly controversial misconception. Namely, that Africa before colonisation was simply a story of ‘barbarous tribes in irrelevant corners of the globe’ (as Hugh Trevor-Roper put it), and as such was unworthy of study.
It’s important that students encounter such interpretations and are equipped with the evidence necessary to challenge them.
Here, your students are first tasked with categorising evidence about the various types of trade in which the African kingdoms were involved in the early modern period, before plotting these trade routes on a map. The map ultimately reveals the inter-connectedness of Africa (as well as Europe and Asia) during this period, and the sophisticated nature of the African trade in objects, ideas and people.
Students then return to Trevor-Roper’s interpretation in the context of its time and are finally tasked with writing a response to Trevor-Roper, outlining their responses to his argument.
- Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
- Lesson write-up: PDF
- Worksheet 1 and 2: PDF