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Nigeria

Nigeria: History, Identity, and Change

First edition. June 2017.

Overview

Nigeria: History, Identity, and Change invites students to explore the history of Africa's most populous country and the largest black country in the world. While Nigeria's importance as a global actor is clear, many people know very little about the country and the diverse people who live there. In this unit, students read about the country's history, from the precolonial era to the present, and are exposed to numerous themes and concepts, such as colonialism, nationalism and national identity, independence, military dictatorships, activism, democracy, and many others. Nigeria: History, Identity, and Change helps students understand the complexities of Nigeria's history and think critically about its present and future.

Readings

Part I of the reading explores the development of precolonial Nigerian societies, their interactions with each other, and how they responded to European exploration as well as the transatlantic slave trade. In Part II, students read about the complexities of the colonial era in Nigeria, how certain Nigerians experienced—and therefore responded to—colonialism differently, and Nigerian fights for independence. Part III includes information on the era of military dictatorship in Nigeria, the growing importance of oil in the economy, and the ways that different groups in Nigeria challenged the dictatorship and called for democracy. Finally, in Part IV, students trace Nigeria's history from its transition to democracy up until the present. This section of the reading focuses on current events and issues as well as questions about Nigeria's future.

The Choices Role Play

Students examine three distinct options that Nigerians faced in late 1966 and early 1967. By exploring this spectrum of alternatives, students gain a deeper understanding of the values and beliefs that were contested at this important turning point in Nigerian history. The role play helps students clarify their thoughts and, ultimately, understand that historical events are the results of contests of ideas and power.

After the role play, students examine Nigeria's era of military dictatorship and its transition to democracy and consider how historical forces shape the present.

Lessons

The Geography of Nigeria
Students familiarize themselves with Nigeria and its neighbors, significant cities, and landmarks on a map. They then work together to explore images of Nigeria and identify issues and themes for inquiry.

Artifacts as Primary Sources
Students examine artifacts from precolonial Nigeria to explore the differences between various societies and to consider how historians can use artifacts to learn more about history.

The Women's War: Feminist, Anticolonial Resistance
Students analyze primary source documents representing a variety of perspectives to better understand the Women's War and discuss the process of crafting historical narratives.

The Choices Role Play
Students work cooperatively using primary sources to present three options Nigerians debated in late 1966 and early 1967 about the future of democracy in their country.

Cultural Responses to Dictatorship
To better understand the social and political factors that contributed to resistance to military dictatorships in Nigeria, students analyze various artistic and cultural sources, including poetry, excerpts from novels and memoirs, song lyrics, and political cartoons.

Media Coverage: The Niger Delta Conflict
Students interpret data about the media coverage of the conflict in the Niger Delta and draw conclusions about the implications of the media coverage of this conflict.

Assessment Using Documents
Students analyze primary and secondary sources in order to answer questions about the Nigerian Civil War and historical debates about characterizing the war as a genocide.

Nigerian Historical Fiction
Drawing on just a few examples of Nigeria's rich literary tradition, students read and analyze excerpts of works of Nigerian historical fiction, present dramatic readings to the class, and discuss the benefits and limitations of using fiction as a source for historical learning.

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