Battling Stereotypes of Africa


Africa is a huge continent, made up of over 54 countries. The landscape ranges from desert to beach to jungle to savanna to subarctic mountain, and everything in between. As such, it should go without saying that Africa is an incredibly diverse continent, both in terms of landscape and culture.

Despite that fact, many people often get the same images in their heads when they think "Africa":

-Safari animals

-Mud huts

-Tribal music/ drumming

-Corrupt, violent governments

These stereotypes do not represent Africa truthfully. Only the southeastern part of the continent is suited for safaris; the continent is filled with bustling cities, with more and more people moving to urban areas; Africa has a thriving music scene, with modern, contemporary songs and the production of high-budget music videos; and many countries in Africa have peaceful governments.

Just like not all stereotypes about America are true - that we're all bigoted, selfish, greedy, etc. - stereotypes about Africa are often not true. I believe that the less we rely on stereotypes when forming opinions on people or places, the better. This is because A) stereotyping creates animosity, and B) making generalizations can be hugely detrimental to a group of people. Police brutality and the rampant incarceration of people of color is one example of this.

Here are some real facts about Africa that may contradict some stereotypes that people have:

-Africa, as a whole, is pretty tech-savvy. According to Portland Communications, "Africa has seen the fastest growth in mobile subscribers in the world."

-Certain African countries are expected to be great powerhouses in the future. Nairobi, Kenya is already emerging as a major tech hub. Bloomberg says, "Kenya’s tech sector accounted for about 8.4% of Kenya’s GDP in 2014, and [developers] expect it to grow further." For reference, America's tech industry accounted for 7.1% of its GDP.

-The country of Zambia has seen a peaceful exchange of power since its independence in 1964, i.e. through six presidencies. The nation has never gone through a civil war, despite having over 70 different ethnic groups.

-Botswana scored #31 on the Corruption Perception Index, ahead of European countries like Spain, Portugal, and Poland.

Of course, there is poverty, there is corruption - but there is much more to Africa than its stereotypes. As is always the case in life, it pays off to challenge your assumptions and continually educate yourself, because in my opinion, there is nothing more important than the truth.

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