There’s plenty of misinformation — or lack of information — about African and African-American history available to kids. Just months ago, there was backlash to the Texas Board of Education over a McGraw-Hill Education geography textbook describing enslaved Africans as “workers.”
One company aims to dispel erroneous information about African history and better educate students on the subject.
EdAnime (short for Educational Animation) Productions was created to produce innovative and engaging educational media. Co-founded by a host of African-American teenagers and young adults, the Baltimore-based company has produced a series that makes learning about ancient Africa fun for students.
Officially released in October 2014, Meltrek (“Mel’” is short for melanin and “Trek” means ‘journey’) is a collection of eight lessons designed to teach children about the history, culture and contributions of Africans and African-Americans from 3,000 BC to 2008 using hip-hop music as a teaching tool.
“We’re taking you on a journey to understand the history and journey of melanated people,” said Dr. Oya Ma’at, co-founder of EdAnime Productions in a BabaTv interview.
The first animated lesson of Meltrek, “Exploring Ancient Africa,” teaches children about the birthplace of humanity, Africa. Children are taught about the great black rulers, culture and defining landscapes of pre-diaspora Africa. The narrative involves a teacher who sends her students back in time to explore these civilizations. The students begin their journey in the Nile Valley, where they meet an Egyptian boy (Rameses) who guides them on a tour of Africa. They explore Kemet (Egypt), Nubia, Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Congo, Zimbabwe and Zulu.
The objectives of the animated series are to preserve African history (since African history is omitted and/or includes distorted facts); to foster self-awareness, self-esteem and solidarity (studies have shown that the self-perception of African-American children has been drastically affected by a Eurocentric education); and to project positive images of African-Americans into the national consciousness.
Since its release, Meltrek has sold in 24 states in the U. S. and six countries around the world. Meltrek-themed products such as DVDs, coloring books and unit plans are available for educators.