There are a lot of myths attributed to Africa; I must say in all sincerity that in comparison with other Continents, Africa scores highest in misconceptions and fallacies bundled around as existing cultural truths and ethnic realities of Africans. There has been over the years some concerted efforts to reorient highly contagious negative perceptions and narratives on the culture of Africans. However, the skewed editorial policies of established mainstream media outlets, especially the Western media and movies staged in Africa has subtly fueled this negativity derailing the forward march of the African continent. Just like every other part of the world has its own flaws, the African continent is also not immune to challenges. But it is purely unfair to hinge onto the negatives of the continent while neglecting all the beauty that exists there. There are over thousands and if not millions of misconceptions out there about the continent but I will focus on a few ones I find to be very hilarious.
- People live on trees: Excuse me? It is interesting to hear people say this in the 21st century. Although I can't speak for all the 54 countries on the continent, I can say with all certainty that humanity has advanced past the evolution phase were archaic sheltering prevailed. Yes, people live in houses made of clay and thatch, yes there are people living in uncompleted structures but NO HUMAN BEING in Africa lives on trees, in fact, some of the most luxurious mansions I have come across in my life, are sited in African countries.
- Living in Africa is unsafe: Well, there are few countries on the continent due to their history of wars and raging conflicts has made those parts unsafe. I must reiterate that not all 54 countries on the continent are plagued with these challenges. I have had some people tell me they are scared of traveling to Nigeria because of the ongoing terrorist activities in the Northern part of that country. It is a known fact that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with 186 million inhabitants and the seventh most populous country in the world. So to characterize the whole nation as unsafe because of conflict happening in a small region is really unfair and fallacious. Yes, some countries have safety issues, but that’s just like anywhere in the world.
- Africa is a country: In 2001 George Bush famously commented that “ Africa is a nation that suffers from terrible disease” insinuating a continent which is known to be the second largest in the world to just a nation. A simple internet search on Africa would have easily corrected this misinformation that flooded the various media platforms that covered that news. If you ever have the chance to travel across the continent of Africa, you will experience how vast and diverse it is.
- You will be eaten by a wild animal: Africa has one of the most natural habitats for many fauna and flora species. Countries such as Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania are known worldwide as a tourist destination mainly because of its Safari. But no! You won’t be eaten by a lion while walking on the streets of Nairobi. Most wild animals are either in the wild where they belong or are kept in the zoo.
- All African countries are poor: I often see pictures of malnourished children and poverty-stricken communities accompanying the narratives on Africa on flyers, news publications, the internet, etc by NGOs soliciting for funds for poverty alleviation purposes. Although it’s a noble course to render support to persons in need, one has to be discreet in doing so. Majority of children in Africa are well-nourished and hearty. In fact, there are millions of children living in Africa that eat balanced and nutritious diets every day. It may interest you to know that they are many choicest communities and places in Africa that are inhabited by the affluent in society. Also, some countries in Africa have been ranked amongst the fastest growing economies in the world.
- All African leaders are corrupt: Although corruption is indeed widespread in many African countries, corruption doesn’t occur only in Africa. In fact, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) published annually by Transparency International indicates that corruption is a global trend that must be addressed head-on by all countries. Indeed many of the finest and transformational leaders with imprints globally are of African descent. Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela are classic examples.
If you wish to visit a country in Africa, kindly research thoroughly on that country and do not be dismayed or confounded by misconceptions or hearsay information. Speak to people who have lived in those places and go experience it for yourself and you will be glad you did.
Let’s get the conversation started, which misconceptions have you had or heard people say about the African continent? Leave your comments below, subscribe to our newsletter and buy from our shop.
Blog Credits: Stephanie Hiewobea-Nyarko
Editor: Michael Annor-Nyarko