Africa Then and Now Class Publishes Newsletter

Students in the two term Africa: Then and Now class published a newsletter on Wix highlighting their work from the Fall and Winter Terms.

Students in the two term Africa: Then and Now class published a newsletter on Wix highlighting their work from the Fall and Winter Terms. Africa: Then and Now is a two term course that “evaluates recent events and the current state of Africa as well as [studies] the themes and issues which have contributed to the history of the continent,” according to the course catalog. The faculty member teaching this class, Michael Hanewald ’90 P ’22, not only lived in Africa for nearly two years but also taught history in Ghana and visited countries like Mali, South Africa, and many more.

During school meeting last Wednesday, Ije Achebe ’21 and Laila Bell ’21, two members of the class, previewed the newsletter’s content to the School community. The four topics covered in the newsletter include: Health, which sheds light on the health-related stories that rarely gain traction in Western media and provides updates on the continent’s struggle against Covid-19; Social Issues, which uncovers the education, police, politics, environment, and gender-based violence struggles in Africa; History and Politics, which tracks the rise and fall of Africa over the past few centuries; and Arts and Culture, which explores contemporary African culture through the lens of art, music, and ritual.

When asked about the significance of sharing with the greater community, History and Politics contributor Amelia Roselli ’21 said, “The political history of Africa is a deeply important topic because it gives much needed context to everything else; essentially, how did we get to what modern Africa is today? We have that context for European and American history as students at a Western school, but we don’t really [learn about Africa’s political past]...I think the newsletter is the perfect culmination of all the interdisciplinary work we [have]been doing.”

Social Issues contributor Ndeye Thioubou ’21 added, “In the Social Issues section, we aimed to inform the school community about social issues that spanned across many aspects of society, from the environment to gender-based violence. Working on this section was incredibly rewarding, as to be informed on African current events and social policy you have to dig to find information—it will not be in mainstream media. By designing a class website and sharing our work with the Lawrenceville community, we are taking a step in the right direction to increase knowledge and investment in the African continent.”

Reflecting on the process in constructing the newsletter, Esha Akhtar ’21 said, “Creating this newsletter really felt like a culmination of all the knowledge we have learned this term as a class...I’m really glad we were able to share it with the community, and I hope it inspires others to think more deeply about Africa as a continent beyond headlines and stereotypes.”

When asked about the course, Alessio Raso ’21 said, “I’ve had a great experience in this class because it allowed me to learn about the distinctive cultures across Africa and its beautiful history. The course was eye-opening, and it was fun to learn about [Hanewald’s] stories and the stories of my fellow peers.”

Amaris Hernandez ’21 agreed, recalling that “both terms of Africa: Then and Now never failed to amaze [her]. Not only [was] the course material interesting, but [Hanewald’s] passion [kept her] wanting to learn more. To say that these two terms have been intriguing is an understatement. If [she] had the chance to do it all again, [she] would.”

Anyone interested in reading the newsletter can access it through the link in Mr. Hanewald’s email from March 24, or reach out to him with any questions. Africa: Then and Now will be offered as an interdisciplinary credit to IV and V Formers next year who will have the option of enrolling for the Fall or Winter Terms.

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