Top 10 Misconceptions About Africa

Biggest Myths About Africa

No, it isn’t full of dangerous, wild animals on the loose. It also isn’t just a vast expanse of arid land. Africa – our planet’s second-largest continent, has been battling misconceptions like these for ages. This Buzzle article attempts to clear the air…

“I’ve never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don’t like eating fish. And I know that’s very popular out there in Africa.”
– Britney Spears
Britney, Britney, Britney, dear Britney! It is impossible to determine where this thought came from. But considering the person it came from, it hardly comes as a surprise, since many inhabitants of the ‘developed’ corners of our world seem blissfully clueless about a continent that is second largest in size and population.

Yes, I’m referring to Africa. Home to a billion people. Supposedly the oldest inhabited territory in the world, which also saw the origin of the human species.

Despite all of this, there are several among us who remain ignorant about this vast continent that is brimming with diversity in every aspect. This is just a small attempt to diss the most outrageous misconceptions about Africa.


10 Biggest Myths About Africa

Africa is a country…

Africa is a country

Map of Africa

Africa is as much a country as Asia or Europe. It is a vast continent, second in size only to Asia. Africa comprises 55 recognized states, with other territories being de facto independent states with limited recognition. The multicolored regions visible within the borders of the map are separate countries.

…Which is full of villages

Being an expansive continent with diverse climatic conditions, Africa has dense settlements in some areas, and sparse in others. However, to say that Africans only reside in villages would be a gross lapse of judgment. Pictured above are Cairo, Johannesburg, and Nairobi, all of which are sprawling, busy cities, home to millions of people. They have brick-and-mortar buildings, public transport, and every other conceivable modern amenity. And of course, all of these are found in Africa. U-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d?

Africa is a huge desert/rainforest…

huge desert/rainforest

nother sorry misconception people hold about Africa is about its geography. Africa is not just the Sahara desert or the rainforests. It certainly isn’t searing hot everywhere, neither does it perpetually rain all year round. Geographically speaking, the African continent has the unique distinction of stretching from the northern temperate zone to the southern, with the Equator running through it. The geographic diversity of Africa is simply breathtaking. As an example, we’ve got you the Victoria Falls, the Blyde River Canyon, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and a view of the Indian Ocean as seen from Cape Town.

… Where animals roam the streets…

No they don’t! A significant part of Africa’s wildlife lies safely ensconced in its many game reserves. Now, these parks and reserves could be located a few minutes outside the cities, but this does not mean that citizens have regular encounters with lions and giraffes in their backyard. Yes, occasional incidents of animals wandering into the city limits are reported – but they are far and few in between. Wild animals are not too pro-urbanization, you see.

… Which is why people carry spears and shields everywhere

As ridiculous as it sounds, this misconception seems to have stemmed from a wide-eyed tourist’s overactive imagination. To think that the Maasai people are a precise representation of all Africans is mirthful, to say the least. Various ethnic groups inhabit Africa, and keeping in terms with their lifestyle, they may carry weapons as a safeguard. But to extend this assumption to all Africans is definitely a long shot.

In Africa, you can contract several diseases…

common illness in africa

Traveling to any African nation makes several people fill with dread. Africa, like any other continent, has problems that have stemmed from its environment, its people, and its culture. Certain parts of Africa can do with a lot of improvement when it comes to public health services. Having said that, one can also find state-of-the-art medical care in several pockets, spread across the continent. Generalizing Africa to be a disease-ridden continent is simply unjustified.

… Or become someone’s meal

It is highly unlikely that you’ll be stranded in the Sahara for weeks on end, or that you’ll be mauled to death by a herd of wild buffaloes. Unless you’re one of those over enthusiastic tourists who try to get too close to a lion to capture Nat Geo-like images, your chances of being gobbled up by a wild cat are virtually none. Since ages, Africans have peacefully coexisted with animals in a harmonious setting, so it goes without saying that your safety is vouched for.

All Africans are dark skinned…

Ever heard of South Africa being referred to as the ‘Rainbow Nation’? Well, several countries in Africa have been home to European settlements. The Dutch came to South Africa, the French came to Côte d’Ivoire, the Portuguese came to Namibia, and the list goes on. Besides the Europeans, African nations also have several people of Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian origin. If you’re looking for diversity, this is where you find it.

… Who speak African

African is not a language full of click-clicks and kluck-klucks. Hell, African isn’t even a language! And if you’re confusing it with Afrikaans, then open your eyes to this fact. Afrikaans is one among the eleven official languages spoken in South Africa. Across the continent, however, you’ll hear around 2,000 different languages and dialects. Among these are the Afro-Asiatic, the Nilo-Saharan, the Niger-Congo, and the Khoisan language families, besides French, German, and English being spoken in several former colonies.

… And survive on charities

On paper, Africa seems to have it all – abundant natural resources, diamond mines, oil reserves, tourist attractions, and cultural history. But a closer inspection reveals the appalling state of affairs brought upon by greedy government officials, hand in glove with vested interests from non-African countries. Africa is not the pet project of UNICEF, or even Angelina Jolie, for that matter. It is a continent with a few of its own citizens trying to devour it from within.

Of course, misconceptions about Africa do not end here, as long as people like Britney Spears keep dishing out gems of ignorance like the one mentioned at the beginning. But as far as you are concerned, yes you, please ensure that you educate yourself about the world in general, before shooting from the hip.

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