How Grangemouth High School celebrated Africa
Pupils and staff at Grangemouth High School in Falkirk celebrated Africa in a fabulous week of cross curricular learning. They used stories, music, food, games and dancing to explore African history and culture. This is how they did it...
In 1976, thousands of black school children took to the streets of Soweto, South Africa. In a march more than half a mile long, they protested the inferior quality of their education and demanded their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot down by security forces. In the two weeks of protest that followed, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand were injured. To honour the memory of those killed and the courage of all those who marched, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated on 16 June every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union).
The media in UK tends to only report all the bad things about this huge, great continent (famine, war, corruption…) so we decided to celebrate all the good things about one continent which contains over 50 countries - a continent which I am lucky to call home having previously lived and worked in Kenya for 12 years.
I discovered that there is a large African community in our area, many of whom were also keen to promote the positive things about their own countries and continent. Through these contacts we were able to present the following events and activities. In fact, if we had had funding, we would have been able to do more as word spread about our endeavours, and more Africans wanted to take part. In involving Africans and those with a personal contact to such a great continent it is possible to make Africa more ‘real’ and touchable to pupils and staff: global citizenship!
How we celebrated Africa in the school library
Mara Menzies, a Kenyan storyteller, got EVERYONE involved with her stories! We all dressed in Kenyan leso (for the girls) and shuka (for the boys), greeted each other in kiswahili (Jambo!) and shook each others' hands til they were ready to drop off! We then participated in stories - and I mean participated!
Jambo Grill, a local African restaurant, came to show pupils in Home Economics how to prepare African food. Pupils got to try some dishes too.
Bibiana Zirra came to school all day to demonstrate playing traditional Nigerian music, show wonderfully colourful Nigerian dresses, tie some splendid head dresses and braid hair!
Our school librarian Mrs Ngabia went to Bo'Ness Academy to talk about when she lived in Kenya, about the community libraries she made in slum and rural areas with Kidslibs Trust, and about how everyone values education and sees it as a way out of poverty.
This actually resulted in 5th years wanting to raise funds to provide one of the rural libraries with a donkey and cart to provide income for the young man who runs the library, who is currently unpaid.
Author Beverley Naidoo (pictured) came to talk about her books and her life growing up under the apartheid regime in South Africa.
PLUS: Every day at lunchtime all week, teachers from many different departments all told African stories in the library, and another teacher demonstrated and played African games, such as 'Wari' which was made by the Design and Technology department.
Nearly every department in school participated in our celebrations. There was dancing in the gym, there were malaria mosquitoes in the science lab, the clinking of many African currencies in Business studies, 'Why' stories in English, Francophile Africa in Modern Languages, and humungous maps of Africa from the Geography department.
We surely celebrated a wonderful continent, and got a glimpse of some of the cultures of Africa! Next year we plan to find sponsorship to include more events and even include our local cluster schools and the local public library. Planning has begun!
If you've been inspired by Grangemouth's week of African celebrations you might be interested in watching our forthcoming Authors Live: Storytelling Relay which will include stories from Africa, Scotland and India. Watch live in your classroom or library on 31 October at 11am. The event is suitable for 8-12years. You can also download our free accompanying learning resources to help you get the most out of the event.