West Africa - Whorrall - 7.4.4

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West Africa Quizzes & Trivia

Questions and Answers
  • 1. 
         The lack of a written language does not mean that the people of West Africa didn’t know their history, though. They passed along information through oral histories. An oral history is a spoken record of past events. The task of remembering West Africa’s history was entrusted to storytellers.  West African story tellers were called griots (GREE-ohz). They were highly respected in their communities because the people of West Africa were very interested in the deeds of their ancestors. Griots helped keep this history alive for each new generation. West African Epics      Some of the griot poems are epics—long poems about kingdoms and heroes. Many of these epic poems are collected in the Dausi (DAW-zee) and the Sundiata.      The Dausi tells the history of Ghana. Intertwined with historical events, though, are myths and legends. For example, one story is about a terrifying seven-headed snake god named Bida. This god promised that Ghana would prosper if the people sacrificed a young woman to him every year. Sculpture      Of all the visual art forms, the sculpture of West Africa is probably the best known. West Africans made ornate statues and carvings out of wood, brass, clay, ivory, stone, and other materials.      Most statues from West Africa are of people—often the sculptor’s ancestors. In most cases, these statues were made for religious rituals, to ask for the ancestors’ blessings. Sculptors made other statues as gifts for the gods. These sculptures were kept in holy places. They were never meant to be seen by people. Masks and Clothing      In addition to statues, the artists of West Africa carved elaborate masks. Made of wood, these masks bore the faces of animals such as hyenas, lions, monkeys, and antelopes. Artists often painted the masks after carving them. People wore these masks during rituals as they danced around fires. The way firelight reflected off the masks made them look fierce and lifelike. Music and Dance      In many West African societies, music and dance were as important as the visual arts. Singing and dancing were great forms of entertainment, but they also helped people honor their history and were central to many celebrations. For example, music was played when a ruler entered a room.      Dance has long been a central part of African society. Many West African cultures used dance to celebrate specific events or ceremonies. For example, they may have performed one dance for weddings and another for funerals. In some parts of West Africa, people still perform dances similar to those performed hundreds of years ago.  
  • 2. 
    1. Griots can be defined as
    • A. 

      A. West African epic authors

    • B. 

      B. West African musicians

    • C. 

      C. West African storytellers

    • D. 

      D. West African sculptures

  • 3. 
    2. Griots contributed to West African societies by
    • A. 

      A. fighting battles

    • B. 

      B. collecting taxes

    • C. 

      C. trading with the Berbers

    • D. 

      D. perserving oral history

  • 4. 
    3. The importance of sculptures was for
    • A. 

      A. identifying family members

    • B. 

      B. religious ceremonies

    • C. 

      C. spreading of religion

    • D. 

      D. encouraging positive behavior

  • 5. 
    4. West African masks were mostly of
    • A. 

      A. animals

    • B. 

      B. ancestors

    • C. 

      C. religious rituals

    • D. 

      D. leaders

  • 6. 
    5. Why was dance so important to West African culture?
    • A. 

      A. it was used for entertainment purposes

    • B. 

      B. it was used for honoring history

    • C. 

      C. it was used for religious ceremonies

    • D. 

      D. all of the above