May 28, 2006

One of Toyota’s regional headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia looms large over a shanty town in the northern part of the city. Huge transnational corporations like Toyota often operate in developing nations taking advantage of cheap labor and low production costs. Companies like Toyota, and the way they do business, are an important part of globalization.

What do fashion, potato chips, diapers and dandruff have in common? Proctor and Gamble. Better known simply as P & G, it is a huge TNC (transnational corporation) and is the owner of Hugo Boss, Pringles, Pampers, Head and Shoulders and hundreds of other brands (P & G – go to the “choose by brand” scroll box). It operates as a horizontal monopoly, controlling a diverse number of businesses to insure its survival in our very cutthroat global economy. If people ever quit eating Pringles because they make you fat that’s OK, because then they will get skinny and buy Hugo Boss designer wear, look really good, attract a member of the opposite gender, make a baby and then have to buy Pampers. It all works out in the end for these global behemoths. They are an integral part of globalization, the latest economic process directing human activity and use of space. It is also quite a trendy catch word and oft used to explain all sorts of things going on in the world today.But what exactly is globalization? A generic definition reads something like this; globalization is the increased mobility of goods, services, labor, technology and capital throughout the world. It is due in part to a relaxing of trade barriers between countries and new developments in technology, particularly in the fields of telecommunications and transportation. Some simply describe it as the process of the world getting smaller or people working on a more even playing field economically due to the all powerful leveler the PC. Have a computer, a phone line, reliable electrical outlet and you are in business, literally. You don’t need to have the suit and the money to get the plane ticket to fly around the world to make various business deals. Just dive into the World Wide Web and go to town. The use of new communication tools and techniques is certainly a key aspect of globalization. But it is the giant corporations who are the major players and driving force behind this economic entity. Globalization seems to be one of these things that is easier understood by looking at real life examples of the process rather than investigating various definitions and explanations. Let’s investigate a couple of the major players in the globalization game and see if their stories will shed some light on this rather elusive concept.

The founders of Nike, originally called Blue Ribbon Sports, started selling running shoes out of their cars at local track and field events. Now the company is one of the most recognized brands in the world and is presently in a very tight battle with Adidas for the top spot in the multi billion dollar athletic equipment and apparel industry. It employs some 24,000 people and operates on all the inhabited continents. Nike also operates as a horizontal monopoly acquiring some high profile companies in its 33 years in operation. Cole Haan, Bauer, Hurley and Converse are all owned by Nike. But it hasn’t been all easy going for the global giant. Several years back Nike offered a promotion in which customers could get a personalized slogan placed on their Nike shoes. A potential customer requested that the word “sweatshop” be emblazoned across his new Nikes. The Nike Brass declined citing a bunch of technical legal mumbo jumbo and linguistic gymnastics rather than simply explaining the obvious that they would not produce something detrimental to their own image. The story gained quite a bit of bad press for the company. You can do a quick internet search and find the original or read about it here via a secondary site. Many TNC’s operate factories in less developed countries to take advantage of cheap labor and low production costs and are often accused of running virtual sweatshops. Other typical critiques of TNC’s and globalization include economic entities controlling too much of world affairs, environmental devastation, exploitation of the developing world, and suppression of human rights.

A Scottish owned tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia employing Indians and Indonesians as laborers. These particular housing units were for the workers from Indonesia. A good example of companies from the developed world operating in the developing world to take advantage of cheap labor and low production costs so that we can drink less expensive tea.

Rows of cultivated tea plants in the Cameron Highlands. Interesting thing about tea, if the bushes are not closely cropped and tended to they will grow into a proper tree like shrub reaching heights of twenty to thirty feet. These were very well tended.

Enjoying less expensive tea. This is at the “Smokehouse”, a remnant of the British imperialist lifestyle in Malaysia. It is now a restaurant that serves a very nice high tea. TNC’s are often refered to as the newest batch of imperialists in the developing world.

Kraft is another TNC with a rather interesting story which indicates another aspect of these multinationals that are at the forefront of globalization. Kraft started a long time ago and slowly began creating new food items and buying out others as the company grew. It is now the second largest food company behind another monster in the globalization game, Nestle. The company has branches in many countries around the world, employs almost a 100,000 people and owns many of the most recognizable food brands such as Kraft Cheeses, Oreos, Post Cereals, Kool Aid, Maxwell House coffee, Planters nuts, Nabisco brands, Toblerone, and Oscar Mayer meats to name a few. But what most people do not know about Kraft is that it was acquired by Philip Morris of Marlboro cigarettes fame. In 2003 the company renamed itself Altria Group “to better clarify its identity”. It seemed that it wasn’t such good publicity having Fruity Pebbles cereal and Kraft Mac and Cheese so obviously linked to a cigarette company. So now Kraft is owned by Altria Group which is Philip Morris minus the name change.

Globalization is very evident in the field of professional sports. Sports are big business and like any economic activity are influenced by economic trends. Consider the English Premier League, one of the wealthiest, competitive and well known sports leagues in the world. It is home to many of footballs most high profile teams, players and managers and is also an excellent example of globalization. Thirty years ago, while Bowerman and Knight were still hawking Blue Brands, English football was a very different beast than it is today. The FA Premiere League did not exist. The teams that battled it out in the First Division were primarily made up of players from Britain. The owners and mangers were also most likely Englishmen. The adverts on the pitch and team uniforms carried the logos of British companies. Much of this changed as the tide of globalization began to flood various world markets including the lucrative business of sports. In 1992 the English (FA) Premiere League was introduced to the world and globalization hit the “joga bonita” like a Ronald Koeman free kick (really hard).

Other than the fact that the Premiere League is English, and played in England it is barely English. What???? Consider Chelsea, the league Champions two years running. Most of their players are not English; the owner is a Russian oil magnate, the manager is Portuguese, and their primary sponsors are Samsung, a Korean technology giant and Fly Emirates, the royal airlines of the UAE. Most of the top tier Premier League teams offer similar lineups. It is big business and extremely competitive. Manchester United is one of the most recognizable sports brands in Asia. Singapore has a giant Manchester United store and a while ago I had a very mediocre sandwich at the Manchester United restaurant in downtown Jakarta.

So the next time you go shopping play this little game – select a giant TNC that operates as a horizontal monopoly and only buy its brands. If you select the right TNC(s) you might be surprised how many diverse products you can get! And then go home, kick up your Reeboks (owned by Adidas) poor yourself a nice glass of Tropicana OJ and bust open a bag of Cheetos (both PepsiCo), and enjoy watching John Arne Riise (Norway) in his Liverpool (England) red Jersey with the Carlsberg logo emblazoned across the chest (Denmark) rocket a shot at the Arsenal (England) goal keeper Jens Lehman (Germany) while coaches Rafael Benitez (Spain) and Arsene Wenger (France) yell frantically from the sidelines.


CGS Final Exam Review 0506

May 25, 2006


Know the following terms as they relate to contemporary global studies.

urban, site, situation, Osaka, Singapore, CBD, Chicago “L”, concentric zone model, sector model, multiple nuclei model, zoning, agglomeration, hinterland, megalopolis, urban hierarchy, urbanization, specialization, urban function, suburb, megacities, world cities, satellite city, primate city, forward capital, infrastructure, commuter, metropolitan area, cityscape, basic sector, non basic sector, European Union, devolution, globalization, biological pollution, invasive, Pleistocene overkill, scourge bunnies and cows, water wars, 3 Gorges Dam, acid rain, economic activities (primary, secondary, tertiary), WW Rostow, stages of economic development, core, periphery, Specialized Economic Zones, Four Dragons/Tigers, Maquiladora’s, TNC’s/MNC’s, Kraft, Altria Group, Philip Morris, rural sector, CAFO’s, GM plants and animals, staple crops, TATER TOTS, Dr. Khush, IR 8, Christianity, faith religion, works religion, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Islam, Sunni, Shia, Hinduism, caste system, reincarnation, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism Shintoism, Judaism, Sikh, secularism, global religions, regional religions, ethnic religions, diffusion, monotheistic, polytheistic, Kansai airport

Respond to ten of the numbered statements below. Use specific examples from our world as supportive evidence in your responses. Indicate where each of the situations you are writing about is located by placing the number of the question precisely in the correct location(s) on the map provided. Also state the name of the location (country, city or some other geographic indicator) in your written answer.

1. Explain the difference between an interfaith and intrafaith conflict. Provide a specific example of each.

2. Explain how religions diffuse (relocation and expansion) from their place of origin to other locations.

3. Explain how religion can be a divisive and unifying factor?

4. What are some religious examples of a cultural landscape? Provide at least three and explain the significance of each religious landscape.

5. Select one world religion and describe its origins and main characteristics.

6. What are the three Agricultural Revolutions?

7. Explain the controversy surrounding CAFO’s.

8. Explain the controversy surrounding genetically modified foods.

9. Explain the controversy surrounding TNC’s and Maquiladoras.

Why are tater tots so freaking good?

10. What happens to the value of land as it approaches urban areas and how does this influence the type of farming activity practiced on this land?

11. Explain how the core keeps the periphery from developing in the circular causation model of development.

12. Explain how Hershey's, Lipton, and Starbucks each contribute in a way to the core periphery model by using different aspect of the core and periphery in their business.

13. Explain the criteria used to measure levels of development.

14. What factors within periphery countries keep them from developing?

15. Explain how the Age of Continuous Warfare is related to food production and environmental damage.

16. Describe the negative impact of three invasives.

17. What does it take to become a member of the EU? Describe a country that has met the criteria in the last year and been accepted into the EU and one country that has not met the criteria and still remains outside the EU.

18. What is the difference between a metropolitan area, megacity and megalopolis?

19. Describe the changes taking place in urban areas of the core and periphery?

20. Explain the “Hasselhoff Phenomena” as it relates to culture and politics … seriously – this is a question.


The world is dynamic. Presently it seems like the world is going through a period of transition and no one is certain what will define the next stage of history. What do you think?

In a well developed essay explain what the world will be like in fifty years. You need to make your predictions based on contemporary global events and trends. In making your predictions address three topics that we have discussed this year. For example, you might want to make predictions related to economics, religion and language; or migration, politics, and agriculture. Be certain to give specific evidence for your predictions based on information related to the contemporay global situation which we have investigated this year.


MWH Exam Review 0506

May 25, 2006

Mr. Duell
Final Exam Review 0506

The exam will cover information from the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Reform and Expansion. You need to know why the Industrial Revolution began and how it changed society in a dramatic way (Revolution!). The Age of Reform and Expansion was a reaction to the changes in society due to Industrial Revolution. You need to know specific examples of reform (positive change) in Europe (child labor laws) and areas influenced by Europe (slavery in the US; education reform in India). You also need to know where Europe expanded to and why they expanded to these places (New Imperialism) and the lasting impact they had in these places (legacy).

Know the following terms as they relate to the subject matter included in the above statement.

Industrial Revolution, Reform Movement, expansion, Abolition Movement, Imperialism (new and old), colonization, child labor reforms, labor reforms, women’s rights, Women’s suffrage, education reforms, prison reforms, settlement houses,  prison colonies, US expansion,  Manifest Destiny,  US slavery,  Peculiar Institution,  US Civil War,  Louisiana Purchase,  Missouri Compromise,  States rights,  secession,  Union,  Confederates,  Emancipation Proclamation,  Civil War weapons,  Civil War medicine,  Civil War,  US Civil Rights Movement,  race discrimination,  separate but equal,  segregation,   slavery today,  nationalism,  European nation-state,  balance of power,  British Raj,  Hindu,  South Asia,  Himalayas,  Islam,  Sikh,  Buddhist,  Jain,  caste system,  British East India Co.,  White Man’s Burden,  Jewel of the Crown,  suttee,  cricket,  English education,  Sepoys,  Meiji Restoration,  Extraterritoriality,  Boxers,  Opium War,  Spheres of Influence,  Hong Kong,  Chinese Nationalism,  Dutch East India Co.,  Siam,  Indochina,  paternalism,  ethnocentrism,  “Dark Continent”,  disease in history,  navigable,  Berlin Conference,  David Livingstone,  slave trade,  Darwinism,  survival of the fittest,  salt

Be able to answer the following questions in a well developed paragraph.

Explain the relation between Social Darwinism and Imperialism.

Explain how the argument in the US between States’ rights and a strong national government led to the American Civil War.

Describe the positive and negative impact of Imperialism on the world. Overall, do you think European colonization had a greater positive or negative impact on the world?

Explain the reasons for European Imperialism and give examples of each from different parts of the world.

Why was the US Civil War such a costly war as far as casualties? How does this aspect of the war relate to the Industrial Revolution?

Explain the legacy of Imperialism in the world today and give three specific examples.

Explain the impact geographic features have on where people live and what they do. Be specific, citing three examples from the topics we have investigated this semester.


The discipline of history was created in part to allow people groups to prepare more adequately for the future by studying the causes and impact of past events.

In your opinion which event from the Industrial Revolution through the Age of Imperialism and Nation State building had the greatest impact? In your answer, include the influence the event had on the world today (legacy).

Make sure that you:

  • state your opinion clearly
  • support your opinion with convincing evidence from history
  • use the format of a formal essay
  • write according to the 6 traits

Draw a mental map of the world. Draw in when necessary and label the following geographic features.

Water Features

The four oceans, Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, East Asia Sea, Persian Gulf, Mississippi River, Amazon River, Nile River, Congo River, Ganges River, Huang He River, Yangtze River, Great Lakes

Land Features

Rocky Mountains, Andes Mountains, Alps Mts., Himalayan Mts., Great Plains Amazon Basin, British Islands, Greater Antilles, Malay Archipelago, Japan Archipelago, Florida Peninsula, Scandinavian Peninsula, Italian Peninsula, Balkan Peninsula, Sahara Desert,Congo Basin, Namib Desert, Malay Peninsula, Indochina Peninsula, Arabian Peninsula, Korean Peninsula, Great Rift Valley






MWH Course Outline

May 22, 2006

Maps and the Controversial World of Spatial Relationships

  • Types of maps and their functions
    • special purpose (infinite variety – any data that can be put on  a map) vs. general purpose (physical and political)
  • Maps and Bias
    • historical maps and their inaccuracies
    • modern maps and their inaccuracies
  • Working with various types of maps

The Age of European Exploration and Discovery

  • Motivation to Explore
  • Technological advances that enabled open ocean exploration
  • The Marinheiros and Wind Patterns
  • The Columbian Exchange – the Collisison of two very different worlds (Old World – Eurasia and Africa and the New World – the Americas) – the impact of this event can not be underestimated. It is therefore investigated in detail.
    • food focus
      • the impact of potatos and corn on the Old World
      • travelers food
    • impact of disease on the New and Old Worlds

Revolutions of Society and State

  • Enlightenment and the importance of ideas
    • relativism vs absolutism
    • some philosophy
      • Greeks: the Big Three and the Allegory of the Cave
      • Descartes: I think therefore I am “cognito ergo sum”
      • Mind and Matter Dualism
    • Philosophes: impact of their ideas on leaders of Europe
      • Enlightened Leaders? or Despots?
  • The French and American Revolutions
    • The impact of the French Revolution on European society
    • The American Revolution and the creation of a country based on ideas of the Enlightenment
  •  Art and Music
    • Bach, Beethoven and Mozart; Baroque, Classical, and Romantic
      • Child Prodigy investigation, analysis and contemporary comparison to child stars
    • Art from the Rennaissance to Shock art
  •  The Industrial Revolution
    • Causes
    • Role of inventors and thier inventions
    • Impact of the IR on different classes of society
    • Captains of Industry vs Robber Barons
      • Compare to TNC’s of today
    • Impact of the IR on the environment
      • Introduce biological pollution and invasives in today’s world

The Age of Reform and Expansion 

  • Response/reaction to the Industrial Revolution
  • Reform Acts
  • Darwinism: impact and controversy
    • connection to the present
      • genetic modification of plants and animals
      • eugenics
  • Reform and Expansion in the US
    • Manifest Destiny: “America the Beautiful” – legacy of environemntal use and abuse
    • the “Peculiare Institution” – slavery in a country founded on principles of the Enlightenment
    • Westward Expansion and the causes of the US Civil War
      • Why was the Civil War such a costly confrontation concerning casualties?
    • Legacy of the Civil War
      • Race relations in the US from Reconstruction to the present
      • Urban population map analysis
  • European Expansion and New Imperialism
    • New vs Old Imperialism
    • Nation building, nationalism and imperialism
      • contemporary connection: the irony of the European Union
    • Reform’s role in the New Imperialism; paternalism, ethnocentrism and the “White Man’s Burden” – Kipling poem
    • Europe in Africa
      • the “Dark Continent” a geographical analysis through acting out scenarios
      • legacy of imperialism in Africa
    • British in South Asia
      • Impact of Religion: focus on Hinduism and the caste sytem
      • Jewel of the Crown
    • Europe in East Asia
      • Spheres of Influence
    • Europe in Southeast Asia
      • Indochina
  • Europe on the brink of war: too much power, nationalism and tension
  • WWI: long and short term causes of the First World War

CGS Outline

May 22, 2006

Intro to our contemporary global society

  • Demographics and Human Mobility
    • Sequent Occupance
    • Major Migrations in Human History 
      • contemporary connection: transmigration in Indonesia
    • Population Patters
      • population pyramids
      • Malthus, neo – malthusians, Boserup; population theories

Culture in our contemporary global society

  • Aspects of Culture: gestures, values, behaviors
    • Fall-out shelter role play
  • Cultural Relativism vs Cultural Absolutism 
    • ethnocentrism
    • case studies: relativism and absolutism
    • cultural behaviors from around the world: relativism and absolutism
  • The Language Mosaic
    • language challenges
      • deciphering a preliterate society 
      • homophones, idioms, slang
      • Japanese and Khoisan: unique language challenges
        • clicks of the Khoisan
        • 4 writing systems of Japanese; kanji, hiragana, katakana and romaji
      • English language dialects: the languages dialects of NJIS interview and map work
      • SMS dictionary
  • The Power of Religion
    • 5 w’s of the major world relgions
    • Religion as a divisive and a unifying force
      • case studies of relgion as a unifying and divisive force
    • Religion and pop culture: The Simpsons

 Economics in our contemporary global society

  • Sectors of Economic Activities
    • Primary, secondary, tertiary (qaternary, quinary)
  • Economics of Agriculture
    • Commercial agriculture
      • CAFO
      • Genetically modified foods
      • Environmental impact
    • Subsistence Agriculture
    • Food consumption journal and log: processed vs non processed foods
  • Economics of Industry
    • Rostows stages of economic development
    • Core – periphery model
    • Globalization and TNC/MNC
      • Case studies of various TNC’s
      • Globalization project
        • globalization of soccer
        • horizontal monopolies
    • Stock market investigation: interdependence of the economic sectors
      • Stock market simulation
      • Analysis of the relationship between stock values, world events and news
    • China controversy: human rights vs economics

Urbanization in our contemporary global society

  • Mental map of world cities
  • Urbanization
    • Development of urban areas
    • Urban models: sector, concentric, multi nuclei
    • Case study comparison: Tokyo, Moscow, and Chicago
    • Focus on transportation: Chicago’s Loop, Kansai Airport
      • Challenge – improve Jakarta’s transportation

Political situation in our contemporary global society

  • Contemporary trends of devolution vs globalization
    • Political Devolution
      • Decolonization and its impact on Asia and Africa
    • Political Globalization
      • Focus on the European Unio
        • “Join our team”
        • Characteristics necessary for EU membership

Human and environmental interaction in our contemporary global society

  • Case studies:
    • The former Soviet Union
      • Aral Sea irrigation and water depletion
      • Acid Rain in Eastern Europe
      • Soft coal residue in urban areas
      • Chernobyl
    • Forest depletion and “The Revenge of the Rainforest”: impact of new diseases in contemporary society
    • Biological pollution and invasive species
  • The world in 50 years?? Future predictions based on past and present trends

Forget about the Gun – I’ll Take the Cow

May 21, 2006


Annabelle – Wyoming, USA

The Pleistocene Overkill (see May 11th entry "Pleistocene Overkill") along with some other variables insured that the Americas and Australia (the “New World”) were void of large mammals and thus the percentage of developing any indigenous domesticated animals dropped significantly. This situation would have a resounding impact on the development of the modern world.

Due to the fact that the New World had no large animals to domesticate (horse, cow, pig, etc were all brought over with Europeans), they had very little contact with live animals. This meant they were quite healthy as a population compared to their Old World cohort. Most deadly diseases originate in animal populations or from the teeming group of creatures that use the animals as a host. Humans in close contact with a disease carrying animal are at risk of contracting the disease if the germ has the ability to make the leap onto or into farmer Jones and has what it takes to adapt to the environment of its new host. Diseases are in the survival and procreation business same as any living being and they are quite efficient at both of these ventures. Because diseases reproduce so rapidly and in such huge quantities their evolutionary potential (or for those of you who don’t like that word – ability to adapt to their environment – like brown bunnies who turn white after a few generations in the tundra) is astounding. Once they are at home in their new host, they then go about the business of settling new environs, meaning infecting more humans, with a rather self absorbed intent – a biological Lebensraum if you will.


The people groups inhabiting Europe and some other parts of the Old World lived in very close proximity with live animals due to their dependence on domesticated animals. Indeed, to many poor families living a subsistence lifestyle off of the land, their animals were indispensable towards survival. So if a blizzard came you bet Bessy moved inside with farmer Jones and family. Many houses today in certain parts of rural Europe are still connected to their barns – most likely a carry over from times when the aforementioned situation was more common. Due to this living situation, many Europeans were incredibly diseased. There are only two real options a body has when it gets ill, it dies or it gets better, a process which might take a brief moment or many years. Those who survived the myriad diseases contracted from their animals or from other animal dependent friends developed some serious immune systems. The Europeans constantly carried various diseases, as many lay dormant waiting for a drop in the immune system, or were simply giving settlement another go. The Old World persons were virtually walking Petri dishes. Throw this human Petri dish into the “healthy”, immune deficient New World society and you have one of the greatest pathologic disasters in the history of the world. This led to the European conquest of the Americas and is why most Mexicans speak Spanish not Yukatec and New Yorkers speak English not Iroquoian.


The Dark Continent: European Colonization in Africa

May 16, 2006

Africa was deemed "The Dark Continent" (most likely used in print for the first time by US journalist and explorer Henry Stanley – of “Dr. Livingstone I presume?” fame – in his Africa account “Through the Dark Continent”) due to the fact that it remained a mystery to Europeans for so long. While most of the world had been under European control for quite some time Africa held out until the final decades of the 19th century, when it was carved up and parceled out to the main European powers in the Berlin Conference. But even after Africa had been divvied up, in reality the majority of the continent remained largely unexplored. It was not exploited until later when various factors collided enabling Europeans to begin a systematic exploitation of Africa's vast resources.

The fact that Africa was last to be colonized also meant that it was the last to gain independence as European imperialists wanted to hang on to their African colonies long enough to get a return on the investments they had put into their various economic ventures. Most of the countries in Africa have undergone decolonization in the latter half of the 20th century. This explains in part why there are so many conflicts going on in Africa today. It is not an easy task to form an independent nation. Every country has a difficult time in its formative years. Consider the US: it was practically bankrupt after the Revolutionary War, had a number of violent rebellions and was basically a group of largely independent states unified in a lose federation in its infancy. It was still trying to solidify its nationhood 90 years after it had begun its fight for independence. The US Civil War almost ripped the US apart. Instead the results of the war actually helped to strengthen the power of the federal government over the independent states and the US forged ahead as a powerful unified country. Most African nations are undergoing this process of nation building. And they face other challenges relevant to their specific traditions and historical development.  The dominant political organization in most of Africa is based on tribal affiliations. The model of a nation state – a European creation – does not apply well to such a political system.  So the fact that Africa was colonized and thus decolonized last explains in part why there is so much turmoil in the continent today.

But why was Africa colonized last? Compared to all the other parts of the world taken over by Europe, Africa is geographically the closest! Why then did they wait so long to get into Africa? The answer lies in the land itself. Africa is bordered by some of the harshest deserts on earth, the Sahara in the north, Namib and Kalahari in the south. The Great Rift Valley in the east creates some of the most spectacular landscapes on earth, many of which are impenetrable. Extensive rainforest and jungle cover much of the Equatorial zone. The interior of Africa is a large plateau so the continent's rivers tend to be fast movingas they seek the coast creating many impassable rapids and waterfalls. Sand deposits in the slow moving areas of the rivers downstream from the rapids create underwater hazards for any boat that is not flat bottomed or does not have a shallow berth.  Africa has a tremendous variety of fascinating yet horrific diseases that have a very impressive track record of evolving with great efficiency to form resistance to human vaccines and other treatments. Because of these situations Europeans had an incredibly difficult time penetrating into the interior of Africa and thus fully exploiting its resources until they had the technology of the 20th century at hand.

The following scenarios are made (but based on fact) up for kids to act out in class. It is meant to be an introductory activity to European Imperialism in Africa. A group randomly selects one of the scenes and acts it out in front of the class. Once all the scenes have been acted out the class tries to figure out what they have to do with the colonization of Africa. If they have trouble figuring out the connection the term, “The Dark Continent” can be introduced and any other hints that might be of assistance.

Select Scenes from the Colonization of Africa

You are French and are on an expedition to claim more land for the glory ofFrance. You are traveling 300 miles up a large river in Africa from the Atlantic coast. 50 miles into your journey you come across a large waterfall. You decide that the only thing to do is unload the boat, take it apart, carry it and the supplies to the top of the waterfall, rebuild and reload the boat. This process takes several days but you are finally to the top of the waterfall and on your way. After about a mile the boat comes to a sudden stop. You realize that you are stuck on a sand bar. The only way to get unstuck is to unload the boat so that it is lighter. After unloading you realize that there are many more sandbars in this part of the river. You slowly make your way past this 5 mile section and reload your boat. Unfortunately you realize the next day the cause of all the sandbars – a huge set of rapids has brought the sand to this part of the river where it was deposited in the slow moving water at the bottom of the rapids. You have no choice but to unload and disassemble your boat again and move it around the rapids. After three weeks of travel you have only moved 30 miles upriver. 

You are British and are on an expedition to claim more land for the glory of the British crown. It has been three weeks since you left the coastal area in the Gulf of Guinea. You and your team of 50 men have had quite an ordeal so far in your expedition. Upon leaving the coastal area you entered into a dense forest. At times the underbrush was so thick that you had to cut a path in order for the team to move forward. On the third day you came upon a very wet swampy area. You decided to walk through the swamp. After several hours of trekking through the swamp the water began to get increasingly deeper. Many of the porters can not swim and were getting quite frightened about the water’s depths. The only option is to backtrack and come up with another plan. When you get out of the water you realize that your legs and lower body are covered in huge leaches that have been feasting on your blood for quite a while to have grown to such a size. That evening you collapse exhausted in bed only to be overwhelmed by swarms of mosquitoes. Every uncovered bit of skin is immediately covered by mosquitoes. You wrap your self up completely but the heat and humidity are almost as unbearable as the mosquitoes. Then it begins to rain which brings relief from the mosquitoes and heat. But soon the rain becomes a downpour soaking you and your equipment completely. Eventually you fall into a fitful sleep for a few hours. The next day you decide the only solution is too walk around the swamp. But it is the rainy season and the swamp is growing larger everyday. You don’t realize this and began what will be an unsuccessful expedition. You will run out of supplies and have to turn back after 3 months of incredible hardship. 

You are a German and on an expedition to explore land in Southwest Africa for possible colonization for the glory of Germany. The ship you are traveling aboard has been sailing off the coast for several days looking for a suitable harbor to dock in or a safe area far off shore to lay anchor and shuttle smaller boats into shore. But the captain has found neither. Early one morning you are jarred awake by a horrible crunching sound and the ship seems to be in an awkward position. You go up to the deck to see what is going on and realize that the ship has run aground about 500 meters from the shore. The captain explains that the ship is stuck on a sand bar and they have to wait to see if high tide will release the boat. In the meantime huge breakers are pounding the boat sending huge sprays of water over the deck making work conditions on the boat very dangerous. The tide does not free the boat and the captain fears for the worst. He does not think the ship can take much more battering by the waves. He decides that everyone on board should make for shore in the lifeboats, not an easy task considering the huge shore break. Soon all essential supplies and persons are loaded on to the life boats and they are lowered into the pounding surf. Immediately three capsize leaving its passengers a 500 meter swim through the waves to shore. The two other boats make it to shore and wait for the capsized passengers. Only a few make it to shore. The crew explains that these waters are a major feeding ground for various types of sharks and that the currents are some of the worst in the world. After a few days on the beach you organize a party to go inland and explore the area. You pack up all your provisions and set off from the beach into the giant sand dunes (hills) that parallel the beach. At the top of the dune you look out and can not believe what you see. Desert landscape for as far as the eye can see. You realize that you are in a very bleak situation and fear greatly for the survival of your group. 

You are Belgian and have been assigned by King Leopold to get some land inAfrica for the Glory of Belgium. You sail into the port city of Kinshasa in land claimed by Belgium. It is your task to venture inland and claim all the land that you possibly can for King Leopold. In Kinshasa you are to make arrangements for the expedition, hire porters and guides and buy supplies. A few days into your stay you develop horrible stomach cramps, and can not keep any food or water in your system. You are running a high fever and spend the next few days lying on the cool tile floor of your room delirious, dehydrated and very weak. Eventually after a few days you feel well enough to continue with your job but still do not feel complete. The next day you break out in another fever and feel achy all over. That night in a state of delirium you tell the servant who has come to help you that you love him/her, want to marry him/her and raise sheep with him/her on a small farm in Canada. Frightened, they leave and you spend the night shivering and sweating. The next day your fever has broken and you feel a little better but still very weak. That evening the fever returns with a vengeance. You once again make a marriage proposal but this time to the lizard that is hanging out on the wall. Satisfied that your affections have changed to lizards the servant tends to you through the night and the next day your fever breaks. At breakfast you receive a letter from the King’s secretary asking how far along you are on your expedition. Behind schedule you throw yourself into your work to make up time. One of the most crucial connections you need to make is with the representative of the Belgian rubber company who will help you get your expedition on its way. You take a boat a few miles up river to where he lives on his plantation and receive news that he had passed away in the night due to several days of high fever and the inability to keep any water in his system. You return to Kinshasa frustrated and exhausted when another bout of stomach cramps keeps you in your room for the evening. The next day you awake to find yourself covered in some sort of skin rash that becomes very itchy and irritated when the skin gets hot and wet – which is all day in the tropical heat of Kinshasa.  Later that week, you get another bout of malaria, realize that Africa is not for you and return to Belgium a broken man.   

This is a joke – we have a Canadian kid in class who likes to kid around. You are Canadian. You have been assigned to go to Africa and try and claim some land for the glory of Canada. You step off the boat onto the dock in the port city Lagos. Your foot slips and you fall off the dock and into the water. You try and grab a hold of the dock but an octopus grabs your leg and pulls you back in. Then a shark comes and eats the octopus freeing your leg. You are happy and begin swimming for the dock – then the shark eats you.  This is why there were no Canadian colonies in Africa. 

Image links:

Rapids on the Congo River at Kinshasa. Kinshasa is the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the the Congo and is only 150 miles or so from the coast. To get beyond the rapids is no easy task today and presented  formidable barrier to European colonization.

The Namib Desert and Skeleton Coast in south west Africa. The coastal waters are prone to storms and have very strong currents. Few natural harbors exist on the coast for ships to take refuge. Offshore winds carry desert sand into the coastal waters creating a maze of underwater sand bars. The relentless, pounding surf often sinks stranded ships. Those who make it to shore face the Namib desert, one of the driest deserts in the world.

The Congo Rainforest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). This is the main road across the country. Imagine what it was like to penetrate this environment 100 years ago (actually probably not too different than it is today considering the development – or lack thereof – in this most curious of countries).

No images of diseases necessary. You can imagine how they caused problems for the Europeans. A few map links to show the proliferation of certain diseases in Africa: Malaria; AIDS; Sleeping Sickness (trypanosomiasis)