Yinka Shonibare

All Ages
Visual Art, Social Studies
30 minute - 1 hour

Yinka Shonibare (b. 1962 in London, England)

Scramble for Africa, 2003

Yinka Shonibare



Students will be able to
  • Interpret and analyze the art of Yinka Shonibare 
  • Compare the experiences of different colonized people and places 
  • Evaluate differing points of view on the same historical event or issue (colonialism) 
  • Conduct independent research

Standards Alignment

California History-Social Science Content Standards

10.3 Students analyze the effects of the Industrial Revolution in England, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States. 

10.3.1. Analyze why England was the first country to industrialize. 

10.4.1. Describe the rise of industrial economies and their link to imperialism and colonialism (e.g., the role played by national security and strategic advantage; moral issues raised by the search for national hegemony, Social Darwinism, and the missionary impulse; material issues such as land, resources, and technology).

10.4.3. Explain imperialism from the perspective of the colonizers and the colonized and the varied immediate and long -term responses by the people under colonial rule.


sculpture, Africa, colonialism, nationalism, ethnicity



  • What do you notice about the figures’ body language?
  • Why do you think the artist chose to make the statues headless? What facial expressions do you think they would have?
  • What people and/or places do the clothes remind you of? What are the national, ethnic, and/or cultural influences can you identify in the work?
  • Why does colonialism matter to me, my community, and the world?
  • How would you feel if the government forced you to change the language that you speak, the way that you dress, the religion that you practice? How do you see this piece addressing these issues and questions?


  • Research the objectives and outcomes of the Berlin conference. What were the historical consequences? What are the present-day consequences?
  • Research a previously colonized country. When and how did they gain independence?
  • Consider the concept of multiculturalism. The fabric the figures are wearing is widely sold across the continent (and in the diaspora), but was constructed in Holland using techniques originating in Indonesia. What do you make/feel of a scene potentially representing white, European people wearing ‘African’ clothing?