Close your eyes and picture Africa. What do you see? All of you should have vastly different pictures. And yet, somehow, many of these pictures are the same.
It’s important to challenge the stereotypical depiction of Africa. There are over 50 countries in Africa, and they are all unique, comprised of different cultures and different people. Painting an entire continent with one brush is dangerous and damaging. The stereotypes of Africa are far too rampant: poverty, illness, struggles. I am faced with a challenge many times when I talk to people back in the United States and try to describe my experiences because these labels are what people see. I am surprised to hear some people’s perception of Malawi, and I realize it’s because that is all they have been shown or told. (Example: A friend of a friend didn’t know that cars were driven in Malawi. ←This example is extreme but I realize some people don’t even know where to start when asked to picture Malawi, especially in terms of resources. There are cell phones… everywhere. There are stores to get groceries. I have even found coffee shops that make delicious cappuccinos. :) .
I’m attempting to use this blog to tell people what I see over my year in Zomba, Malawi. And I am excited to do that, but make sure to keep in mind that I am showing you a sliver of a country on a massive continent, and my words in no way represent all of Africa. There is a lot of pressure with this task of sharing my experiences, because my stories may be the only insight into this beautiful country that some people with whom I interact will see. And that’s the danger in a single story.