FilmQ03f_Ch.15- Mali as a West African Trade Empire
How to Use Video as a Source
Step #1: Familiarize yourself with film questions prior to viewing the film. By reading the questions and understanding the vocabulary contained within, you allow yourself the luxury of viewing the film without having to look at the questions continuously.
Step #2: View and Listen Attentively. Unlike a book, a video provides information via visual images and audio. Both forms of data are ‘more valuable together’ than separately. For example, turn the volume off on your TV during your favorite program. Then, raise the volume while ‘blacking out’ the image. Under which conditions was the data most richly delivered? Always make sure that you have unobstructed viewing of a film and that the sound is audible.
As you view the video, pay attention to visual and/ or audio cues that reflect the issues raised by the questions below. Your responses should refer to video content as well as your current knowledge and understanding of history.
Step #3: Organize Your Thoughts. Unlike a book, the data from a video is often delivered at a constant rate. With a book, you can slow your reading speed when you encounter a particular segment that is complicated. You can also turn back to a previous page to review information. A film is a bit different in that you may not always have the option to use ‘slow motion’ or ‘rewind’. Therefore, maintaining focus on the imagery and sound is important. Targeted Notes will reduce the amount of time you’re looking away from the film. By writing quick and simple phrases of a few words each, you maintain greater attention to film events. Targeted notes use key words/ phrases that will ignite a thought or idea when you read them later. There is no concern for grammar or spelling while doing this. After the film has ended, you look at your targeted notes and manipulate the data to compile responses in complete sentences.
Organizational Tip: Vertically divide your sheet of paper (where you’ll write your responses). On the ‘left’ half, take targeted notes for each question given. After viewing the video, use the targeted notes to compose complete responses to each question (on the ‘right’ half of the sheet).
Your responses to these film questions will form the foundation of, or supplement, your notes for this lesson. While the focus of the film is Mali, keep close attention to the values and goals that motivated this society to build a commercial empire and flourishing civilization. These same values/ goals were pivotal in Ghana, which preceded Mali, as well as the Songhai kingdom which succeeded Mali.
SOURCE: CNN’s Millennium Video Series: The 14th Century: Century of the Scythe ©1999. [~10 Min.] Narrated by Ben Kingsley.
Context: West Africa, c. 14th-15th C., Mali Empire
1. Who does the narrator use as a source for information about the Mali empire?
2. How would you describe the environment in which the critical Salt – Gold trade of Mali took place? How did this impact the mode of transportation of the Salt and Gold?\*
3. We know why gold would be a sought-after commodity in trade, but why is ‘salt’ paired with it?
4. Like many other great cities from the past and present, what did the cities and other urban areas of the Mali empire offer to stimulate scholarly thought and discussion?
5. a. What singular event involving Mansa Musa publicized to the world the great wealth of Mali?
b. What attempts were made to keep the source of that wealth a secret?
6. How was the Mali military affected by the wealth of the empire?
7. How did a European map of the period immortalize the wealth of Mali and its most famous ruler? What impact could this and similar images have on a Europe that is on the brink of venturing into unknown waters?
* This trade was part of a vast network of tribal merchants and the routes they used to traverse the expanse of North Africa. The Sahara desert dominated the region and thus the commercial activity is referred to as The Trans-Saharan Caravan Trade.