Children of East Africa

Curriculum Connections

The Poem: The following is the full text of Part One of the poem, Children of East Africa (OneWorld Classrooms. All rights reserved).

Amosi in my language means 'I greet you'
My name is 'Sunshine' and I'm happy to meet you
This is my sister, she's not quite so bright
Oh, she's plenty smart, but her name means 'Night'

We're from a small village in a country called Kenya
Would you like to visit, or should I ask 'Can ya?'
You can? That's great, then hop on a jet
We'll give you a tour that you'll never forget

First you'll see our capital, Nairobi, when you land
It's a modern city, so the traffic might be jammed
But it won't take you long to reach the countryside
And the trip to our village is a wonderful ride

You'll pass high land and dry land - and the Great Rift
And grassland where dwell the grand and the swift
Just don't be alarmed when your pace is slowed
By the mild and the wild crossing the road

And when at last you reach Lake Victoria's shore
When you find that the pavement below you's no more
You'll come to our village named after a hero
In the province of Nyanza, the home of the Luo

When you arrive you might think that no one's around
You'll see bushes and massive rocks on the ground
Oh you might spy a monkey, or bird with crown regal
But you'll probably ask yourself, "Where are the people?"

Oh we're here all right, we're just out of sight
Behind the tree fences that protect us at night
At our gate, Mom will greet you with 'amosi' and then
She'll say 'karibu' which means 'Come on in!'

So can you can meet our family and visit for a while
And see what it's like to live African style
Our style is unique as you will soon see
Because a home's not just a house in our society

Related Geography/Social Studies Activity: To get your students familiar with African geography before or after your visit: On large paper, have students draw a map of Africa.  Have them label 10 countries, 5 cities that have at least one million people living in them, 5 rivers, 2 deserts, 2 oceans, the equator, 1 large lake and 1 mountain and Victoria Falls.  Have them color all the rain forests green, the deserts brown, the lake blue and the savanna yellow.  Have them create a legend using symbols to represent 10 animals, then have them research where the animals live and put the symbols in the correct places.  Next to the symbols, have them add a C if the animal is carnivorous, a H if the animal is herbivorous or a O if the animal is omnivorous.  Have students make a chart or graph comparing Victoria Falls to Niagara Falls, New York, showing the following: the name natives gave each; the first nonnative to see or write about it; the river it is located on; how each is used or why it is important; any other information.

Language Arts Activity: For fun, share the following poem with students while doing the above activity. Then, draw another map of Africa on another large sheet of paper. Write the poem inside it and decorate the borders with related drawings. Then find space on the wall for your two student-made Africa posters.

I am a continent, far and wide
With a tropical island by my bottom right side
A half turn to the left makes me look like a shoe
But with the same to the right, what do I look like to you?
If an animal's head is what you say
Then it's easy to find my countries this way
Look to the west and to the north
And you'll see my neck jutting forth
Then look down my face and to the south
And you'll see my snout, my nose and my mouth
My eye is the lake where the Nile river is born
"Can ya" find Kenya in the east under my horn?
My shape is a clue to what you will find here
Some are large and ferocious
Some are small and dear
If it's animals you guessed
Quite right you are
And if you open a book
I'm close, not far
I'm kontinenti wa Afrika, ________.

© Paul Hurteau 1994, from Safari!
(Note: 'kontinenti wa Afrika' is 'the continent of Africa' in Swahili.)

Related Resources: Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams (Lothrop, Lee and Shepard). Why not work with the school art teacher to make your own galimotos out of wire and old foam rubber after reading the book.

Why Do You Speak As You Do? A Guide to World Languages by Kay Cooper (Walker)

Skipping Stones: A Multicultural Children's Magazine, PO Box 3939, Eugene, OR 97403-0939; (914) 246-7828

Teacher Resources: Teaching Tolerance Magazine (free for teachers), 400 Wahington Ave., Montgomery AL 36104


Africa Counts: Number and Pattern in African Culture by Claudia Zaslavsky (Lawrence Hill Books)

Curriculum Connections: Children of East Africa - Part 2
Curriculum Connections: Children of East Africa - Part 3
Curriculum Connections: Children of East Africa - Part 4



© 2007 OneWorld Classrooms