Curriculum Connections

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

Now getting the water is a whole other tale
You need a hole in the ground and a good pail
But just as important is a powerful neck
And believe me when I tell you Mom's strong as heck

She can carry a pail on her head for a mile
And despite the load still manage to smile
You might wonder how she learned this wonderful trick
Well, we start very young carrying logs and sticks

It's an important skill - especially during drought
Because then the whole family will have to help out
Getting water then is a most difficult chore
'Cause as soon as you find some you need to find more

But sooner or later, the rain does come
To quench the thirst of equatorial sun
And things return to normal yet again
In a cycle of life that recurs without end

That means Mom can get back to normal stuff
And I can tell you that that in itself is enough
There's winnowing, grinding and pounding the grain
Then back to the garden to start the process again

There's cooking and sewing and caring for the young
From early in the morning till the setting of the sun
We children try to help her when we can of course
But around our home she's the main labor force

Once a week, Mom gets a chance to put her chores down
Then she carries her basket to the market in town
There the shopping is colorful and lots of fun
A cross between supermarket and celebration

In town there's so much one can see and can do
Some men fix your bike while another mends your shoe
You can visit the mill, knock on your relatives door
You can even by candy at the corner store

There's also a smaller market down by the lake
Every morning folks rush there shortly after they wake
Because that's where they buy their favorite dish
From the fishermen who catch and sell their own fish

Language Arts/Music Connection: The poem, Children of East Africa, uses rhyme, word repetition, alliteration and consistent line length to create rhythm. Have students locate specific examples of each. Point out that, in each technique, it is a pattern or a repetition of sound that actually produces the rhythm: after all, that's exactly what rhythm is. Break out some CD's and compare this to rhythmic techniques found in music.

Social Studies Connections: This section of the poem takes a look at the many roles and jobs of a typical rural African woman. Nowadays, the roles of women in Africa are diversifying - especially in larger towns and cities, but many rural women follow traditional roles. Discuss with students the plusses and minuses of having to the various jobs listed in this section. Ask them why they suspect women were the ones who got these jobs in Luo tradition and men landed the jobs of caring for animals and fishing. You may want to remind them that in the past, the men also played the role of warrior. How does the evolution of Luo gender roles compare with that of the American or other societies? Research how modern day living changes things for women in various parts of the world? If you're ambitious and want to connect your students with kids from around the world, create a related survey and send it off via E-mail to schools you have contacted in different countries. Evaluate and display your responses - or have students write reports.

This section also touches on work that children do in rural African society. Vary the discussion/activities above by examining the work roles of children around the world. If you are interested in exploring the theme further, go to our LINKS page and click on the UNICEF: Voices of Youth link and then go to the Children and Work and The Girl Child sections. The Children and Work looks at how sometimes children are sometimes exploited as workers.

Curriculum Connections: Children of East Africa - Part 1
Curriculum Connections: Children of East Africa - Part 2
Curriculum Connections: Children of East Africa - Part 4



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