Home / Lesson Plans / Beat the Drum – Curriculum Guide (South Africa)


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Beat the Drum is a contemporary South African film about the devastation of HIV/AIDS. It follows a young boy, Musa, who is orphaned after his parents die of the disease. In order to help his grandmother, he leaves his village in KwaZulu-Natal to find his uncle. As Musa makes the journey from his remote village to the urban landscape of Johannesburg, the film follows his emotional quest for survival, understanding, and community.


Lesson 1: Apartheid and South African History (Social Studies)
Lesson 2: Pandemics and Epidemics (Social Studies)
Lesson 3: HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa (World History)
Lesson 4: Viewing the Film Beat the Drum (Media Literacy)
Lesson 5: Musa’s Heroic Journey (Language Arts)
Post-Viewing Lessons:
Lesson 6: Affirmative Action in South Africa (Cross-Cultural Understanding)
Lesson 7: Zulu Cultural Traditions (Cultural Studies)
Lesson 8: Beat the Drum in Your Community (Media Literacy/Service Learning)


"While I can explain a situation, a culture, a social injustice, or crisis around the world, for many students, they cannot even begin to imagine what this might look like due to their often limited exposure to global issues. If you have never seen or experienced poverty or orphans, what you may imagine could be very different than the reality of these circumstances. 
This film brought a realistic, yet relatable, journey of a young boy while giving them insight into AIDS, poverty, crime, African culture, orphanages, and the human experience.'"

Charlotte, North Carolina

I am able to do a lot by showing a film in a couple of weeks...Beat the Drum still remains a class favorite film to watch.

Springfield, MA





Beat the Drum - Curriculum Guide (South Africa)