Students report that this paper completely changed the way they thought about the continent of Africa, and that the careful scaffolding of the essay in this handout really helped improve their writing. This is my #1 favorite essay to do with students in my Geography and Global Issues class, and I created it because I was so upset, after returning home from teaching in Ghana, at the level of ignorance so many people have about Africa as a whole. I have been moved and uplifted to see how well students do with this assignment with using evidence to challenge stereotypes.
I'd recommend assigning this paper 2.5-3 weeks after starting the unit and covering the Background Worksheet and Africa Country Research Project (both in my store). Have this paper be the only classwork and homework for students for a full week, modeling how to do an outline, draft, revision, and editing. See my Grammar Demons handout in my store for help editing. Spend at least one class projecting student drafts onto the board and revising/editing them together while students have their own work in front of them and fix it up. The day papers are due, have students read each other's using the Publication Celebration format (lesson plan in my store). Enjoy!