Alexandre Kimenyi

Ethnic Studies 10
Africa: Myths and Realities
Kimenyi Amador 562B, 916-278-6802
e-mail: or
website :
Office Hours: MWF12.00-12.50

1.Course Description

Africa: Myths&Realities is an interdisciplinary course which serves as an introduction to African Studies and at the same time dispels the most common myths found in both popular and academic literature about Africa and its people


(a) Required:

Phyllis M.Martin and Patrick O'Meara. AFRICA. 3rd Edition. 1995. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

F.J. Ramsay. 1999. Africa. 8th Edition. Global Studies. Guildford, CT: The Dushkin
Publishing Group, Inc.


The course will consist of lectures, films, and class discussions on assigned readings.
Newspapers clippings will be presented to show how Africa is depicted in the News.
Guest speakers: africanist faculty will be invited to speak on topics which deal with their area of specialization.


The purpose of the course is two-fold:
_To inform the student about all facts and fiction about Africa: history, culture, science and technology and its contributions to the world.
_To teach critical thinking: How to tell an objective writing from a subjective one:
The competence of the writer, the adequacy of the sources, the goal of the writer.

5. Videos

_Chinua Achebe with Bill Moyers
_Africa by Basil Davidson
_The Africans (Ali Mazrui) _Wonders of Africa (Henri Gates Jr)

More videos and films will be shown depending on the availability of material and time.

6.Course Outline

Week 1. African Geography: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
First in-class essay to know the students and their respective writing skills. Study of all maps : geographic, political, ethnic and linguistic

Week.2. Caste, Class, Clan, Race and Ethnicity in Africa (Class lecture and reading of " Genesis of Ethnicity :

_Genesis and dynamism of ethnicity.
_"Conflict" model of pluralism
_"Equilibrium" model of pluralism
_Contributions of Africa to Ethnic Studies

Week.3. Languages of Africa.
Read Joseph Greenberg Languages of Africa chap. 4 and class handout
_Genetic classification
_National, official languages and lingua francas
_Problems of linguistic pluralism and language policies
_Contributions of African languages to Linguistic Theory

Week.4. Politics in Africa (chapter 4 and chapter 6)

_Legacy of colonialism
_Causes of political instability
_Problems and solutions in nation-building
_Theoretical models which best describe and explain the African situation.

Week.5. African History (chapter 2 and chapter 5)
_Contributions of Africa and African scholarship to Historical theories _Video Africa First Midterm: March 16

Week.6. African Economy (chapter 5 and chapter 8)

_African Economical systems : production and distribution
_African mineral products
_IMF and World Bank
_Contributions of Africa to the World Economy

Week.7. African Art &Music (chap.12 and chap.13)

_Concept of African Art
_Genres and motifs of African Art _Musical instruments, types of music and meanings
_African Art in the cycle of life chap.6 of African Religions by Benjamin Ray
_Influence of African Art to the World _Video: Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse

Week.8. African Religions&Philosophies (Chap.11). and language, names and religious beliefs

a. Religions
_Characteristics of African religions
_Myths and Realities
_Contributions of African religions to the World

b. Philosophy
_Concepts (Epistemology)
_Aesthetics _African sytems of thought chap.11

Week.9. African Culture pp.100-105, chap 7
_Afro-centrism Second Midterm April 21

Week.10. Communication in Africa (Lecture and handouts)

_Traditional means of communication (drum languages, symbols...)
_Effects of these to modern communication
_Contributions of African communication systems to semiotics.
Reading : The role of symbols in nation-building

Week.11. African justice systems (chap.17)

_Crime and concept of evil in Africa
_Punishment and rehabilitation systems
_Influence of european systems to traditional systems.
_Competing theories

Week.12. Literature in Africa (chap 15)

_Genres and motifs in African Oral Literature
_Influence of Oral Literature to Modern Literature
_African Literature and Literary criticism

Week.13-14. Students oral presentations

_Each student will be given 15 for oral presentation on any subject of his/her choice for his/her adopted country. The topic has to be discussed with the instructor weeks in advance.

Week.15. Final

Written paper due the day of the final


_Required class attendance and participation (10%)
_Two midterms which consist of short essay questions (60%/30% each)
_Class presentation (10%)
_One short research paper on any one of the myths plus oral presentation 20%(6 pages maximum).

8. Grading System

A: 100%-94%
A-: 93%-90%
B+: 89%-96% B: 95%-93%
B-: 92%-80% C+: 79%-76%
C: 75%-73%
C-: 72%-70% D+: 69%-66%
D: 65%-63% D-: 62%-60%
9. Dates of Exams

_First Midterm: March 23
_Second Midterm: April 21 _Paper presentations: April 27