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10 Highly Publicised Misconceptions About Africa

Everyone across the globe agrees that Africa is a beautiful continent, but the beauty they speak of is relative and this is larargely due to misconceptions about Africa they hold. To many, the beauty of the African continent does not rank on the same scale as the people—or the level of their civilization.

Africa is the most misunderstood and misaligned continent in the world, and the conception of many is that the continent is backward and uncivilised. During the COVID pandemic, many people wrote the obituary of Africa, with the wife of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates, infamously saying that ‘there will be dead bodies on the streets in Africa.’

But every time, Africa has forced its doubters to eat their words because, indeed, the continent is not as backward as they think. Although there have been many innovations and achievements on the continent, there are still many who have stereotyped misconceptions about it. Below are some of the highly publicised misconceptions about Africa.

Africa is a country

This is probably one of the most popular misconceptions about Africa. Africa is a continent made up of 54 independent nations and has the second-largest land mass of 30.37 million km2, only second to Asia. It is also the continent with the largest number of countries. Each of the sovereign nations has multiple states with millions of people and economic activities. So, it is really surprising that there are still people who think Africa is a country!

Africa is not all that big

This is one misconception about Africa that is highly publicised but needs to be addressed. There have been cases of prominent people saying they are returning from a trip to Africa, whereas they only visited one country! Africa is larger than the USA, Japan, China, India, and the majority of Western and Eastern Europe combined. It spans an area of 11,724,000 square miles (30,365,000 square km).

Africans have no access to modern technology

There are still many people who have the impression that Africans live in mud houses with no access to electricity, not to mention technology. Well, this is far from the truth because the majority of African populations live in cities and urban areas. Moreover, according to statistics, more than two-thirds of Africans have 24-hour access to modern technology, smartphones, and the internet.

Africa is all about savannah and wild animals

American movies have played a huge role in enhancing this misconception about Africa as they always tend to depict Africa as a jungle where people share the same communities with lions and other wild animals. This is not a correct representation of Africa in any way. Like in any other modern city across the globe, African cities have high-rise buildings, schools, bridges, airports, and other amenities found in Europe and America.

Africa is a land riddled with disease

A good reference to this misconception and the continued skewed narrative churned out by Western media is the recent measles outbreak in the United States. Most of the pictures still used by frontline media outlets are those of occurrences in Africa many years back.

Although there is still a lot that can be done in the health sector in Africa, the African continent is not a continent riddled with disease. Also, the continent has made commendable achievements in handling pandemics and disease outbreaks. A good example is the handling of the Ebola and COVID outbreaks which many people thought would wipe out the African population.

Africa is only for adventure, not education

Most people associate Africa only with adventure and animal sightseeing. They believe Europe, Asia, and America are for education and technology, while Africa is only for sightseeing and adventure.

Discovery Channels and National Geographic could be blamed for promoting this misconception. Fortunately, it is this is not true, and although the continent is blessed with large savanna plains and forests, there is much more to Africa than sightseeing.

According to a 2020 report by uniRank, there are more than 1,225 internationally accredited higher-education institutions in Africa, much more than on many other continents.

Africa is full of violence

Many foreign movies and the international press often project Africa as a violent continent with wars and killings everywhere. Like every other continent, Africa has its fair share of insecurity, but this is not peculiar to the continent and is not the way it is projected online.

Many places in Africa are safe and are international tourist destinations. In fact, countries like The Gambia, Morocco, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, which are part of the countries portrayed as violent, are on record to be safer than the United Kingdom. It would surprise you that the World Economic Forum recently listed Rwanda as the 9th safest country in the world.

Africa is made up of ‘shithole countries

When former United States president Donald Trump made the infamous ‘shithole statement’ about Africa, he was speaking the minds of many foreigners with the same mindset about Africa.

Africa is a continent of bright minds – scholars and innovators who have contributed immensely to global advancement across all sectors. The facts are there to back it up, and there the countries in Africa are making strides on different fronts. For instance, Kenya is on course to become a world leader in geothermal energy within a few years.

Africans can not speak good English

It is funny that many people still think Africans cannot speak fluent English. Although Africans are blessed with over 2,000 languages, they do not have an issue learning and mastering the English language.

Over 237 million people in Africa speak and write the English language fluently, and there are many English professors from Africa who teach the language abroad.

Africa owes its civilisation to the Europeans

Again, there are many books and movies that spread this misconception. Before colonisation, Africa had an array of civilised countries and settlements, and history is there to prove it. Before colonisation, Egypt was already a world power and credited for many of the inventions we are still using today, especially in warfare.

There were other highly successful and civilised kingdoms like the kingdom of Kush, Carthage, Mali Empire, Bini Kingdom, and many more. As seen here, there are quite a number of misconceptions about Africa which turns out aren’t true.

NEXT: 5 African Countries that’ll Attract the Most Investors in 2023

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