Africa is a country : The ignorance of the white man
Algeria, Cameroon, Djibouti, Eritrea, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Gambia, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, Central African Republic, Uganda.
These are all independent countries which are located on the African Continent and there are 54 of them on the Continent comprising of both Arabs and Blacks. they have their own government and institutions and are not under any colonial rule.
Before I proceed, First What is a country?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a country is an area that has used to have its own government and laws.
That said, So clearly from this short definition, you already know that Africa is not a country, but rather a place where all these countries are located, so but who doesn’t know this in today’s global world?
No offence meant, but the Number one offender is the middle class, normal Caucasian who thinks the whole of Africa is a country.
According to scientific American “ Africa is bigger than China, India, the contiguous U.S. and most of Europe — combined! Look at the usual flat map of the world and it appears that Greenland is nearly as big as Africa. But it’s not even close. Africa is 14 times larger “
Africa is the second largest continent in the world, then you wonder how some still refer to it as a country.
This particular stereotype of “ Africa is a country” has repeatedly been used by many ( permit me to use the word) “ white people”, although this tag by these people might not be deliberate but rather, a result of their ignorance.
Let me narrate a few experience of Black people on this issue.
A Nigerian female journalist narrated that on one of her trips abroad said, she was approached by a kid who asked her “ if there was ice cream” in Africa, although irritated by the question, she answered in the affirmative. Also the same lady, also narrated her ordeal with a white woman who happened to have a friend in one of the African countries and asked the lady if she by any chance knew him.
Also, another lady who happens to be an On-Air Personality during her school days in the United States. The lady said “ She had a roommate who was from Alaska and was “very white” and on seeing her, the lady asked if she could touch her skin, and revealed that she had never seen a black person in real life except on TV.
These people meant no harm, in fact, they are not racist, but this is, as Ngozi Adichie put it “ The Danger of the single Story”.All their lives, the middle-class white person who have never travelled outside their country or continent has viewed Africa as some place still existing in the communal stage of development.
I must state that the inspiration to write and contribute to this topic was when I heard for the first time , Chimamanda Adichie ‘s “ The Danger of a single story” and as she stated in the lecture, one of the major factor contributing to this ignorance by the sophisticated middle-class white person is the literature they are exposed to.
Some of the literature these people read always paint the picture of Africa in terms of days before the independence and during the independence of most of the countries. The literature paints a picture of a rural village with rural people whose main economy is Agriculture. In the literature, Africans are represented as archaic, ignorant and poor people living simple lives”
Like Adichie said, when some people view Africa, all they think of is a country of beautiful landscapes and fine animals with clueless and ignorant people who live in Huts with thatched roof”( emphasis mine)
This lecture was although given in 2009, but till today the middle-class white person is still yet to change his or her opinion. For instance, there was the issue of Jidenna in 2015; the musician who made some disparaging comments about Nigerians, and Nigeria took him to the “cleaners” over the issue but in the war of tweets between Nigerians and the American fans of Jidenna, some of them actually posted what they thought Africa looked like but Nigerians were quick to correct this wrong view with pictures of beautiful places and beautiful structures in their respective states . My favourite was a guy who posted a picture where he posed beside his car in front of his fine house and asked the American, is this a hut?
So that stereotype and misconception still exists despite the globalised world we live in and it is quite ironical that this level of ignorance comes from the first world countries which are reported” the most developed”
Apart from literature, there are other factors contributing to this very wrong stereotype and one of the major ones is the media( Both foreign and local).
Foreign media is one of the major contributors to the negative depiction of Africa.
In fact some of these foreign media companies report false news to an audience who have not travelled beyond the shores of their country and as a result, these people are exposed to the danger of a single and false story in this case and ignorantly believe that is all there is to the Africa continent.
For instance, In Nigeria, a Nigerian artiste invited Kim Kardashian to an event he organised and she came to Nigeria” The show was titled “ Love like a movie”. Kim Kardashian who is a fashion icon to many in America and other parts of the world came to the event dressed like a character out of a medieval movie to attend the show.
Why did she dress like that? If it was a Grammy Award or an Oscar ceremony, she would not have dared to adorn such fashion absurdity. Something surely must have likely informed her decision to believe that African do not have any dress sense, or the show was going to be held in the bush, but she was probably surprised when she attended the event and saw Nigerians in beautiful clothes that probably featured on runaways and colourful African attires. She must have felt out of place that day.
Another instance was the CNN report on Kenya prior to Barack Obama’s visit to the country in 2015 the report tagged Kenya as a “terror hot bed”. This sparked a lot of reactions from Africans and Kenyans and CNN eventually apologised.
Like Adichie said, “stereotypes are not false but are not the entire story”.
Also, another instance is the case of Curtis Jackson( 50 Cent) who posted on social media that he “bought a house in Africa” the way the rapper announced his new acquisition in one of the African countries painted the story like “it was the first of it’s kind in Africa or Africans had never had or built such structures before”.
Yet, there are Africans who have mansions built in Europe and America, although a few of the personalities who acquire such buildings are government officials who stole public money but aside this group there are those who have worked hard and have made enough money to build Gigantic and Gorgeous structures in countries whose people think they live in Huts in their country. How can a man live in a Hut and build or buy a mansion in Europe?
Secondly, Local Media
Until recently and prior to the advent of social media, Africa’s reportage of the people of the continent has been majorly in negative light and on negative issues like “Tyrannical leadership, corruption and poverty” and with emphasis on the last issue, Africans are believed to be poverty -stricken, hence the many AIDS from foreign countries who behind the scene get some sort of incentive in return from the African government.
On the contrary, Africa is not poor. In terms of natural resources. Africa is, in fact, one of the most naturally rich continents on the planet but the way the resources have been used have led to the impoverishment of some of these African nations, so the reportage on the negative things are true but the way it is reported in Local media makes it seem like there is no positive or goodness in the continent.
There is no continent without their respective challenges and issues. Sit -tight syndrome in leadership, impunity and Fantastic corruption are the major ones Africa is known for and these are the issues which have led to the poor state of some nations in Africa.
At this junction, I would like to states some things you need to know about Africans based on the analysis I have given
- There are many Rich people in Africa but some are not so generous
- Africans love fashion and colourful clothes. They wear designers and very expensive Jewellery
- They Live life to the fullest and they travel a lot.
- Africans own mansions as big as the White House but like I said some of the owners are not as generous.
- Africans stay ahead and on Global trends apart from the issue of Government.
- Africans have some of the most beautiful brains and people the world has ever seen. The African’s Melanin-rich skin is a Mystery to many and envy to some.
On a final note, for those who don’t agree with what has been stated here, you should try to read about beautiful places in African like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, , Seychelles, Ghana, Johannesburg, Capetown, and visit places like Madagascar, Cairo etc and see the beauty of the African continent and how they have developed and confirm that Africa is more than a country but a continent blessed than many others .
As it is commonly said, “ Google is your friend”.