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Johannesburg Recycled Material Toys


The photograph shows boys in Diepsloot Township, Johannesburg, South Africa, and one of the rolling toy creations with which the photo shows them playing. These elaborately designed constructions are made from discarded aluminum or steel, soft drink cans, plastic processed food tubs, and water bottles. The material that holds them together is ordinary wire such as coat-hangers. The fanciful... Read More »

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Journal of Jan van Riebeeck


Krotoa, called Eva by the Dutch, is the first Khoikhoi woman to appear in the European records of the early settlement at the Cape as an individual personality and active participant in cultural and economic exchange. Eva joined Commander Jan van Riebeeck’s household at the Dutch fort at around age 12. She was closely related to Oedasoa, chief of the Cochoqua Khoikhoi, but it is unclear... Read More »

Kuttab, or Primary Level Qur’an School


This public building of Mamluk Cairo in Egypt has two functions. Its lower level housed a sabil, or fountain, for dispensing water to thirsty travelers and denizens of the city, and its upper level was a public primary school for the teaching of Qur'an, called a kuttab. Kuttab schools taught basic literacy skills such as arithmetic and grammar along with recitation of the Qur'an needed to... Read More »

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Legal Protection for Scout Uniform, 1935: Tanganyika Government Ordinance


Many African boys, teachers, and community leaders were genuinely inspired by scouting and founded their own unauthorized independent troops. In other cases, individuals dressed as scouts to claim the benefits of belonging to the movement. Scout leaders and government officials in East Africa paid little attention to these informal adaptations of scouting, but they became alarmed when dance... Read More »

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Liberian Letters

Liberian Letters will fascinate teachers and students interested in the late history of slavery, manumission, and repatriation of people of African descent to Sub-Saharan coasts.
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Maasai Murran as Rebellious Youth (20th c)


A number of societies in Eastern Africa, including the Maasai, divide the male life-cycle into distinct stages: childhood; murranhood (or "warrior"); and elderhood. Age-set societies like the Maasai are perhaps unusually explicit in the way that they divide up the life cycle whereas other societies find different ways of socialising the young and managing generational tension. Among... Read More »

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Mabo Song


This is a written representation of the music from the dance mabo, BaAka music is complex. It is polyphonic (many voices) and polyrhythmic (many rhythms). During a dance, participants engage in structured improvisation, knowing when and how to add or change a phrase or a beat and doing so in relation to others. The social and the aesthetic work together.

Market in Southeastern Nigeria


This is an image of local women at a market in southeastern Nigeria in the 1930s. In the precolonial period, women in this society had a very strong role in the economy. They were, in fact, the major traders in palm oil. As palm oil becomes a more valuable export commodity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, men take over that trade. Women always maintain a role, although it becomes... Read More »

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Mau Mau Fighters in Scout Uniforms


In the early 1950s, tens of thousands of poor and landless Kikuyus revolted against the Kenyan colonial government and wealthy members of their own community who were allied with the British regime. Known as the "Mau Mau Emergency," this rebellion was one of the most serious threats to British rule in Africa. The widespread lawlessness of the Emergency inspired many young Africans to dress as... Read More »