Homeschooling Journey 1

February 5, 2015

My son loves mythology. I have invested quite a few dollars and I don’t know how much energy in meeting his mythological needs. From D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths to D’Aulaires’s Book of Norse Myths, it seemed as if we had gone around the world of myths but one day, during a geography lesson, he realized we had been missing a continent or two and that the world wasn’t actually represented by the two books mentioned above. So we went looking for myths that reflect the fact that the world actually consists of seven continents (or six for this purpose). We also went looking for the types of mythological figures who have power like Zeus yet who also shared my son’s pigmentation. A Google search yielded results that can be seen here.

In the process of researching African myths, specifically, we found the following statement on mythencyclopedia.com to be  true:

The line between legend and history is often blurred.

The path toward a deeper understanding of what that statement means led to a detour into the difference between epic and myth.

Odysseus is an epic that tells us about the mythology of a portion of the ancient Greek world as retold by Homer. It tells us (or maybe just me) that Odysseus was a jerk of the variety that upholds the opinion of the minority over that of the majority. (Didn’t his crew implore him to head home but he overruled them? The opinions of the working class seemed not to hold much sway in ancient Greece.)

Sundiata, an Epic of old Mali, “yes, he was born from a Buffalo Woman, yes, he was crippled during when he was little but he still didn’t have any powers like Poseidon. Poseidon could part the waters like Jesus!”

The Epic of Askia Mohammed: I didn’t even bring this one into our fluid classroom. Something about the following passage made it something I did not want to pass onto my son as “epic”:

As he approaches the prayer skin of his uncle,
He reins his horse.

He unslung his lance, and pierced his uncle with it until the
lance touched the prayer skin.

Until the spear went all the way to the prayer skin.

[Mamar Kassaye decides to atone for the killing of his uncle by making a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1497. On his way, he forces many people to accept Islam.]

In each village where he stopped during the day, for example, this place,

If he arrives in mid-afternoon, he stops there and spends the night.

Early in the morning, they pillage and they go on to the next village, for example, Libore.

The cavalier who goes there traces on the ground for the people the plan for the mosque.

Once the plan for the foundation is traced,
The people build the mosque.

It is at that time,
Mamar Kassaye comes to dismount from his horse.

He makes the people—

They teach them verses from the Koran relating to prayer.
They teach them prayers from the Koran.
Any villages that refuse, he destroys the village, burns it, and
moves on.

 

Let me just take a moment and repeat that last line:

Any villages that refuse, he destroys the village, burns it, and

moves on.

Any African-centered student of African history knows what that means. For those of you who are not an African-centered student of African history what that means is the imposition of Islam over traditional African cultures and religions. As evidenced from “any villages that refuse, he destroys the village, burns it…”, the imposition was undoubtedly as violent as Christopher Columbus’ voyages and my family doesn’t celebrate Columbus Day.

The same goes for Mansa Musa and his economy-devastating trip to Mecca. This, despite, a caravan which included

60,000 men, 12,000 slaves who each carried four-pounds of gold bars, heralds dressed in silks who bore gold staffs, organized horses and handled bags… 80 camels, which varying reports claim carried between 50 and 300 pounds of gold dust each

 

(This did yield mini-units on camels, the masons of mali and the Festival in the Desert).

Disclaimer: All text in this post attributed to author’s son is strictly the author’s interpretation of facial expressions, body language, etc., of said son and, as such, constitutes a work of fiction unless otherwise indicated. Disclaimer dictated by the author’s interpretation of said son’s response to post.

 

 

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