PURPOSE: To experience some of the problems resulting from changes which take place in a culture.
ACTIVITIES: The students have studied Ghana for at least six weeks before this activity takes place. They have heard one Ananse story, learned one dance and can count from 1-10 in the Twi language. They are aware of the great culture of the Ashanti people and the extent of their influence in Africa at one time. They are aware of the fact that there are tribal chiefs presently in Ghana who have lost much of their power to the new form of government. The students have created some drawings and crafts typical of Ghana. They are told that the person visiting the class is playing the role of a chief, but they are asked to believe it for the sake of exploring some new ideas. (Students will accept this not only because it is fun, but because they do it all the time with television.)
A visiting artist from Ghana is hired to dress as and play the part of a modern chief from a village in Ghana. The chief is visiting the class to plead for help. “My culture is fading. There are too many changes. What can I do?” (This could be video taped.)
The students and teacher(s) will become engaged in a conversation. The teacher can best serve the situation by helping to direct questions or making statements which cause students to think in a new direction. For example the classroom teacher might play devil’s advocate and say, “You should accept facts. Times have changed. You no longer can make the laws.” The teacher could also say, “Is there not a place where you can go with your people and not be bothered by the new ways?”
After approximately thirty minutes the person in role should leave, change into “western” clothes and come back in as himself to discuss what happened. It is this period of reflection which will be most important. (If the situation was video taped, the video tape can be used to review what happened, and will increase the impact of the event.)
(Another way to do this activity is to have the class become members of an Ashanti village in Ghana. A person in role enters as the government Minister of Transportation to discuss the movement of the village because of the new “super-highway” coming through.)