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Zan, one of our crew asked, "Is it OK to submit lesson plans for the website that involve countries other than Senegal, but in the West Africa region? (Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, for example) The way I’m thinking about it is that we’ll see many other influences from the surrounding countries while in the markets and along the countryside. It would be like someone coming to US and visiting Pennsylvania and wanting to know about something in New York or Washington, D.C . That’s within the realm of knowledge for people living in PA, right? Does knowing about surrounding countries/states hold true for people in Senegal, too?

Tony's answer...

Hi Zan,
Yes, I like how you're thinking. First of all it's a region that has known many political shapes. It's been part of at least three major empires that I know of; Songhai, Ghana, and Mali. Each one included all or part of Senegal, but were also different from each other. Secondly, many of these countries (Senegal, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire) have been or are part of a confederation of nations that cooperated on several levels. The currency that we'll use is used by these three, although it differs slightly. When they first regained their independence (1960-61) they formed an alliance, and now they are often subject to similar problems; everything from post colonial issues to the current fishing crisis where European fishing companies are competing with the local fishermen for the same food.

They also share similar musical sensibilities and related art forms. So yes, use their interconnected histories and current situation in your plans. I'm sure those Africans who consider their future seriously, see how their fates have been and are connected. (Baaba Maal; song titled "Africans Unite.") You could even look into the writings of Leopold Senghor (the first and longtime president of Senegal) or Kwame Nkruma (socialist first president of Ghana). They had similar feeling about the interconnectedness of their fates and the power of them united at least by common interest if not more.

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