Welcome to the module America Through African Eyes. As you will have noticed, all the other modules in this course are focused on individual countries. America through Chinese, French, and Mexican eyes. But this module covers and entire continent. When I signed up to work on this course, I decided that I wanted to offer a range of examples and cases. As a way to explore the incredible diversity of the African continent, an its multiple engagements with America. To this diversity, I hope to challenge one of the most common misunderstandings about Africa, that it is a homogenous place, akin to a single country. So, let's dispel that notion right now. Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent in the world, after Asia. It includes 54 different countries with more than 1 billion people who speak more than 1500 different languages. The continent is home to sprawling massive cities like Lagos in Nigeria, with more than 5 million people and to millions of people who live in small villages and towns. Africans are farmers, and herders, and hunters, yes, but they are also bankers, lawyers, teachers, factory workers, and IT specialists. With all of this diversity, it would be absurd to think that in our brief time together, that you will be able to comprehend the continent's peoples and cultures in any comprehensive way, and I don't aim to do that. What I hope to do, is to help you explore some fascinating ways that Africans view America. How they engage with ideas of America and how this engagement shapes their lives in novel, and in interesting ways. We'll explore examples from a variety of African countries, including Sudan in the East, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Ghana in the West, and Malawi in the Southeast. Because I'm an anthropologist and archaeologist, many of the cases we study will be framed by anthropological and historical concerns. And as you'll see, I'm particularly interested in the views that Africans have of America, but also what they do with these views. How do images of America help shape the ideas and lives of Africans on the continent? And how do African immigrants to the United States, manage the cultural and social differences between where they are from, and where they now live. In this introduction, it's useful to talk a bit about the historical connections between African countries and America. Historically, prior to the 19th and early 20th century, the connection between Africa and America was bound up in the transatlantic slave trade. Millions of enslaved Africans were taken from the interior and west coast of Africa, and brought to North and South America to work on farms and forms of production. We cannot forget this history, because slavery not only provided a key part of the economic foundation of America, but it also means that many Americans are the descendants of these enslaved individuals. In chapter four, we'll explore the ways that enslaved Africans viewed America, through their own narratives of capture and enslavement in the 18th to 20th centuries. The hundreds of years of slavery in America were a brutal and dark period, which led to the American Civil War in the late 19th century. But the legacy of slavery continues to reverberate in American life through decades of segregation, racist policies, and exclusion. Racism toward African-Americans has not gone away. And our country continues to struggle with the legacy that slavery created. A number of chapters in this module will explore the connections between Africans and African Americans. For example, in chapter six, we'll explore the complexities of race. That Africans experience when they come to the United States. And in chapter eight, we'll see what Africans think of African American tourists that travel to Ghana. While the United States was an active participant in the global slave trade from Africa, it was not a participant in the subsequent colonial period, beginning at the end of the 19th century. From this period, until the 1960s and 70s, most of Africa was under the colonial rule of Great Britain, France, Belgium and Portugal. This colonial past has also been a powerful force in shaping African societies. And its legacy extends to today, as independent African nations remain powerfully connected to the old colonial centers. This movement toward independence is explored in chapter seven. Where we discussed the way that Africans and African Americans inspired each other, in civil rights and independence movements. Finally, America today is a powerful, global, cultural force, and it is through American music, movies, and media that many African people now perceive and think about America. Chapters two and three deal with two different case studies, in which African people have drawn upon and appropriated American performers, and use them in creative and powerful ways. This module is organized into three sections. Section one, explores two cases in which African people have drawn upon and appropriated American images and ideas, and integrated them into their own lives. Section two, includes three chapters. That examine African immigrant experiences in America, through the eyes of enslaved Africans, resettled refugees and immigrants. Section three, returns us back to the African continent, where we explore the complicated and meaningful between Ghanaians and African Americans at two different moments. My hope for this module is that you will learn something of the rich diversity of African people and nations, and understand better the historical circumstances that shaped them. Additionally, I attempt to show how the African diaspora, based on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, has powerfully shaped the way that Africans have engaged with America. The relationship between Africans on the continent, and African Americans is also complex and variable. Finally, we'll see how some myths that Africans have about America are often tempered by their lived experiences, with Americans at home and abroad.