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Glossary

Berlin Conference - the meeting of European powers in 1884-85 resulting in the Berlin Treaty and the partition of Africa into colonies of the attending nations.

Colonialism - the governing of one country by another; in the case of Africa, specifically applied to the period of European military and administrative dominion extending from the late 19th century to approximately 1960 for most African countries.

Diaspora - the dispersion of peoples; for Africa, related primarily to the slave trade era.

Epic - a narrative poem or oral composition that celebrates a heroic episode of history.

Harlem Renaissance - a cultural movement during the 1920s in the United States when African-American arts flourished and inspired other African diaspora movements.

Indigeneous - relating to a local population.

International Monetary Fund - the international agency in charge of regulating international monetary policies, especially related to national debt restructuring.

Jeli - master of the spoken word (also known as a griot [GREE-oh]). The jelis are recognized as a particular caste in Mandinka society who are in charge of preserving oral history and traditions. Each generation of the jeli inherit the history from their ancestors.

Kingdom - a government, country, state or population ruled by a king or queen.

Mande - a collection of language and cultural groups maintaining traditions linked to origins in the ancient empire of Mali.

Mali (MAH-LEE) - an ancient empire lead by the Mandinka tribe. Mali is also a nation now in West Africa with no direct link to the ancient empire

Mandinka (pronounced MAN-DIN-KAH) - a tribe and society in western Africa.

Mansa - a king or emperor.

Mecca - the birthplace of Mohammed and the most holy city of Islam. It is now a capital of Saudi Arabia.

Muslim - (also spelled Moslem or Muslem) a believer in Islam. Islam is a religion based on the teachings of the prophet Mohammed who believes in one God, Allah, and follows the laws as set forth in the sacred text called the Koran.

Mutton - flesh of sheep or lamb.

Nomads - a group of people that continuously travel from place to place seeking food, shelter and trade.

Oral tradition - stories, songs, and poems about the history and heritage of a people that are passed from generation to generation by word of mouth.

Pan-African - the term applied to recurring movements seeking unity among the people of Africa and its diaspora.

Sahara - a vast area in northern Africa over 3 million square miles that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Nile river valley in the east and from the Atlas mountains in the north to the Sudan region in the south.

Sahel - the southern coast of the Sahara between the desert and the savanna.

Savanna - extended grasslands with few trees.

Sorghum - a type of grass cultivated as a grain and used to make syrup.

Structured adjustment - financial reform programs imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the domestic policies of African governments during the 1980s as a prerequisite to receiving development funds.

Vodun - the religion of Haiti (also known as voodoo) largely derived from the Yoruba pantheon while incorporating aspects of other African religions.

World Bank - the international agency in charge of loans for development programs.

Yoruba - the language and cultural group or western Nigeria and parts of Benin.
 

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