A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun Glossary


The largest tribe in Ghana, the Ashanti grew to prominence due to the wealth of iron and gold found in their country before the rival Mali tribe put an end to the Ghana Empire in 1180.

Benin sculpture

One of the longest-lasting civilizations in West Africa, the kingdom's art centered on sculpture that recounted historical events. Utilizing bronze, ivory, or terra cotta, this style was influential because of its high degree of realism and stylization.

Chaka Zulu

Known for his innovative and revolutionary battle formations, this great military warrior built the Zulu tribe into a powerful nation that united against colonial powers in the early nineteenth century.


Earlier called Abyssinia, the country is located in northeastern Africa. Having enjoyed a long history of trade with the Middle East, Ethiopia has been referenced in many sources, from Homer to the Bible. Ethiopia is unique in that it avoided much of the colonial rule experienced by its neighboring African countries, with the exception of a short Italian occupation from 1935-1941.


The term originates from gheto, an island off the coast of Italy where Jews were forced to live. Today, it refers to a portion of the city where an ethnic group is forced to live due to socio-economic pressures.


The Mali Empire was the most wealthy and prominent in Africa from about 1100-1500, when it was conquered by the Songhai Empire. Present-day Mali is a landlocked West African nation that was invaded by France in 1880 and, along with Senegal, gained its independence in 1960.

Monsieur le petit bourgeois noir

French phrase meaning "Mister small businessman"

Mrs. Miniver

A 1942 Oscar-winning film that starred Greer Garson as a English bourgeoisie wife during WWII. Mrs. Miniver appeared tending roses in many of the scenes.


The largest and possibly the most diverse country in Africa, with approximately 130 million people and 250 different ethnic groups. The two major ethnic groups in the south of Nigeria are the Ibo and Yoruba people. In the past Nigeria has been ruled by several colonial powers, including the Portugese, Spainards, and the British. In 1963, Nigeria gained its independence from Britain.


Popularized by "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by Pete Seeger and the Weavers, the term refers to the title of an African chant about the waking of a lion.


A figure from Greek mythology most noted for stealing fire from the gods and giving it to the humans. Prometheus was punished by being tied to Mount Caucasus, where his liver to be picked out daily by an eagle. Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus became highly regarded by Romantic writers like Percy Shelley, and the figure is emblematic for his defiance against the gods.


Farmers who live on someone else's land and pay a disproportionate share of their crop as rent, leaving little for their families to live on.


After Songhai conquered the Mali Empire in 1470, Timbuktu became the center of education and commerce in the Muslim world. At its zenith, the Songhai Empire reached from modern-day Nigeria to parts of the Atlantic coast in the West. However, by the 1600s the empire had disintegrated into several smaller kingdoms.

South Side of Chicago

A poor neighborhood in Chicago where many blacks lived; also known as "the ghetto".