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Exploring Africa's untold history of past Successes, Ruins and Stolen wealth

Keywords: precolonial Africa; precolonial,colonialism , imperialism, forgotten history; lost power

Aims and Rationale

Before the colonial rule, Africa was made up of about 10,000 different states and groups with distinct languages and customs. Global perceptions and narrative about Africa is focussed on AIDS, starving orphans and civil war. The aim of this activity raise awareness that history is written from different standpoints. It is designed to help students understand about the “scramble for Africa” and its effects on perceptions and postcolonial narratives. 

Learning Outcomes and Associated Areas of Knowledge

  • Recognise that African history has been written from different perspectives
  • Discuss imperialism and colonialism in Africa and examine the long terms effects caused by them. 
  • Practice research skills and  questioning historical narratives that are used to justify  human rights crimes.

21st Century skills

  • Collaboration and Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Self-Direction
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Research Skills and Practices
  • Public Speaking and Presentation


  • paper 
  • pens
  • A range of audio-visual media resources that students can consult before or after completing this activity. See the additional media teaching resources at the side of this page.

How to

This activity should be done as a group activity so that students share and compare their thoughts and start a meaningful conversation.  The students should be given enough to discuss the topics between them, consult additional resources outside face to face class time.

This Discussion Point Worksheet provides a template of discussion sub-topics.

You can follow use these lecture slides before or after the activity:  Exploring the differences between pre-colonial Africa versus colonial

They have been made by author Nasra Hersi. The slides are made available via a Creative Commons Licence.

Alternatively, you can create your own set of visual aids based on this activity guide and adapt the slides using an updated Creative Commons Licence.


Challenge: Sensitive topic matters ( mass murder, rape torture etc.) could be triggering for some students and some topic that others may find uncomfortable ( racial discrimination, slavery and imperialism etc)
Solutions: Trigger warnings before starting and discuss the these uncomfortable needed to talked about in order to overcome and understand the struggle of other less privileged.

Assessment for Learning

An essay written on what made Africa be “the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped continent with a continental GDP that accounts for just 2.4% of global GDP” would be a great way to see if the learning outcomes are being achieved.

Another way would be  to have a  3- 5 mins presentation on the activity made by students.  

Please rate this activity:

Further online courses

Introduction: Early African History

Background to the European colonisation of Africa

Additional media teaching resources

Decolonization and Nationalism Triumphant: Crash Course World History #40

Kingdoms Of Africa – Nubia – Ep 1/8

Empire How Britain Made the Modern World – Why Britain ep 1/6

Further web reading (2018). Wonders of the African World

South African History Online. (2018). Early African civilisations: Ancient Egypt, Nubia and Swahili

Hilali Community Contributions

The activity in this section was  co-created by teachers, students, researchers, academics and others interested in developing tools for those working in Higher Education and Cultural Heritage. To make the activity, the Hilali Toolkit Learning Designer was used. If you are interested in contributing activities, please use our learning designer or contact us.

Creator of ‘Exploring Africa’:

Nasra Hersi (Inclusive Curriculum Consultant, Kingston University, UK)