Adinkra printing 

A free lesson, hints and tips for Black History Month

Kwame Bakoji-Hume of African Activities CIC has run hundreds of Black History Month workshops. Here are his hints, tips and links for teachers for a fun class based activity.
Challenge the stereotypes
If you do make time to explore Black British history it may be interesting to begin with Black Roman emperors such as Septimus Severus. At a world level do children know that the worlds first Universities were in Morocco and Timbuktu? You may even wish to explore why some people think aliens are more likely to have built the pyramids than Africans!
Adinkra Cloth
We love to focus on Adinkra – a traditional form of printed cloth from the Akan peoples of Ghana in West Africa. It’s an activity that everyone can access, enabling children to get in touch with their creativity and have some fun. 
A trip around the history of the Ashante highlights it’s length and depth as it reaches back into tales of long ago, of kings and queen mothers, regiments of female warriors, gold and riches and knowledge. As well as learning about the history children can also explore the present day Asantehene. 
Adinkra symbols from West Africa are a form of hieroglyphic with each symbol representing a proverb. There is a culture of proverbs in West Africa, and indeed across the sub continent. It enables us to challenge the thought of Africa as a continent without the written word.
The Materials to Help
This simple sheet contains Adinkra symbols and their meanings.  You may wish to ask children to select the images that represent themselves, your school or they could create their own proverb and symbol to represent it.
This proverbs for Africa worksheet contains a number of proverbs. Asking children to interpret the proverbs is a great way to get them to explore and challenge language and to see the double meanings within.
In this video Kwame gives and introduction to the adinkra symbols and how to print on the cloth.  He shares the traditional stamps and how they and the printing resins are made.  For your workshop you may wish to consider getting students to make their own stamps from rope dripped in glue and applied to card or simply by carving potatoes.
Finally
We know that for Black children, who may rarely feel represented in the history they learn,  Black History Month is important. But we also know its tough that when this history is explored the role is often that of the victim. We believe BHM is equally important for white children who may know little of Black History. For us Black History Month is about reclaiming the past for all of us. By shining a light on history we hope we can create a more unified future.
If you would like us to visit your school you can find out more about our workshops at www.africanactivities.org.uk, there are some more resources too.