In this project, we explored European imperialism, how it affected the continent of Africa, the inner workings of a courtroom and the Igbo culture in Nigeria. More specifically, we looked into new imperialism, which took place after the Industrial Revolution and before WWI. Imperialism is the policy of forcing your culture, economics or politics onto another society. During the late 1800s, many European countries imposed imperialist rule in Africa, which resulted in many social and economic changes. We saw this through the book, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The protagonist, Okonkwo, has his world turned upside-down when the British arrive in his village. Things fall apart around him and he ends up committing suicide in the end of the book. This leads into the mock trial that we did for our exhibition. In the trial, the people of Okonkwo’s village are suing the British Colonial Government for damages and his wrongful death, claiming that it was their fault. Through this process, we learned about how a courtroom works and what an actual trial looks like. During the trial, I was a juror. This role also meant that I worked on writing descriptions for the characters in the trial, helping to design a brochure and making a ballot. This was a good opportunity for me because it gave me the chance to work on skills that i don't get to work on. Things like, problem solving and graphic design. This project provided lots of opportunities for growth. We ran into a lot of issues that required a lot of patience and time. During the trial, the jurors were required to take notes on the testimonies from each witness and why that particular witness was important to the case. This really gave us a look into what it would be like to be on a jury. During this project, I came to the realization that I could greatly improve my collaboration skills. I think that this was the area in which our group struggled the most. We were frequently asking each other what we were supposed to be doing or if someone had already started to work on a certain thing or not. A lot of my group mates were frustrated with each other because we weren’t communicating with each other about what we needed to do in order to be successful. One incident that sticks out in my mind, is when one of our group members submitted a poster without sharing it with the group or asking for any critique. This was hard because our entire group was held responsible for the bad work that was done. It caused me to realize the importance of group collaboration. Going into this project, I knew very little about how Europeans affected Africa. I knew about slavery but beyond that I had no idea. This project showed me what affects slavery had on Africa, what the partition of Africa was and how European imperialist rule changed Africa. I am walking away with a deeper understanding of a culture that I had never heard of and of a time period that is rarely talked about. This project has made me realize that the quote, “History is written by the winner,” is extremely true. We learned a very different history of Africa, in which there was brutality, oppression and extreme racism. This has changed the way that I view my country and my European heritage, and not for the better.
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