Listening Activity #10 - Today Africa, Tomorrow Rome.

Can music be used to learn about culture, history and self-knowledge? This song and video by Esperanza Spalding beautifully demonstrates how all three can be combined. Given the Black Lives Matter and natural hair movements, combined with the plethora of self-worth material available, this song which was released in 2012, is as relevant then as it will be in years to come. This video seems to break many stereotypes, first showing a black man picking his two boys up from school, cooking and teaching them, an image that's rarely seen in the mainstream media. The comment that the oldest boy makes is an interesting one. Today Africa, tomorrow Rome.

Have you ever noticed that Africa is often spoken of like a country or city and not as a diverse continent? We often hear about African Drumming groups and after-school clubs, but does this make sense? It would be like having a club or group called European Strings! It's also important for children to see women playing instruments that are usually associated with men. Watch this video of Esperanza playing the double bass and singing at the White House. Music can help to break stereotypes and perceptions often in a way that words can't.

  • Can you name all the instruments in this video?

  • Can you name 5 female musicians (not singers)?

  • What do you think 'Black Gold' means?

  • What happens at 3:49?

  • What happens at 5:12?

  • Can you clap the rhythm of the horn section in the chorus?

  • Who was Miriam Makeba? Nelson Mandela? Fela Kuti? Sundiata Keita? Desmond Tutu?

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illustrations by Charity Russell

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