People all over the world tend to understand Africa only through books and movies which most of the time are a very poor representation of the continent. As an African who has lived in Africa for over a decade, I know that the depiction of Africa in movies and books as been extremely backward, poor and uncivilized is extreme exaggeration.
Foreign media tends to tell the bad stories of Africa but leave out the good ones which are far more than the bad ones. Here are some common misconceptions about Africa and the truth with hard facts.
#1 – All Africans are poor
Many people world over believe that all Africans are poor but nothing can be farther from the truth. There are thousands of US dollar millionaires and a couple of billionaires from the continent. A perfect example is the richest black man in the world currently, Alhaji Aliko Dangote who at his peak in 2014 had a net worth estimated by Forbes at 25 billion US dollars, yeah you read that right.
#2 – Africa is violent
Foreign media tends to give the impression that Africa is always having violent clashes, civil wars and the like. Well the truth is Africa does have some violence but no more than some western countries themselves, bad news sells and so media companies capitalize on bad occurrences in Africa to make quick bucks. You hear stories about Boko Haram, Al-Shabab Militants, religious, political and ethnic crises and feel there is no peace in Africa, that’s a big lie. There are many places in Africa which have not experienced violence in decades and they are more than the areas with violence.
#3 – Africa is a Country
I don’t know why many people still think this because high school geography should take care of this fact. Africa is not a country, it is the second largest CONTINENT in the world and has 54 countries in it with a population of over 1 billion people which makes it the second most populated continent.
#4 – Africa is filled with jungles
Many Hollywood movies depict Africa as a land of many jungles which has led many people to believe Africa is filled with jungles. Africa has jungles but just a handful, as a matter of fact some African countries do not have jungles at all.
#5 – All Africans are black and have flat noses
Majority of Africans are black and have flat noses but not all Africans do. Some Africans including myself are light in complexion (not as light skinned as whites though) and have pointed noses.
#6 – Africans are uneducated
It’s a pity many films tend to portray Africans to be uncivilized illiterates who move around naked. Africa has many educated people who have graduated from universities and other tertiary institutions with Bachelors’ degrees, Masters’ degrees and Doctorate degrees, there are also thousands of African Professors and even Professor Emeritus who have made positive impact on the world. Examples are Professor Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian literature professor who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1977*,.
There are over a thousand universities in Africa and African professionals are found in every field of education on earth from Medicine to Engineering and Rocket Science.
#7 – Africans eat dirt
Some people are of the opinion that Africans eat dirt, I guess that’s what they have seen, read and heard in movies and books. That is completely untrue, Africans have a very wide variety of very tasty and healthy foods which can be found listed here.
#8 – Africans don’t wear clothes
Many movies, books and pictures have made people world over believe Africans do not wear clothes. While there may still be extremely few African tribes who do not wear clothes, that does not mean it applies to all Africans. 99 percent of Africans wear clothes made from cotton, linen and other clothing materials like we all do. Africans are also very fashionable people and there are lots of African models and fashion designers.
#9 – Africa is a Desert
Maybe due to the fact that Africa has the largest desert in the world i.e. The Sahara desert and some other large deserts such as the Kalahari desert and the Namib desert, some people think Africa is a desert, Hell No! Africa has many savannahs, tropical rainforests and swamplands.
#10 – All Africans Live in Mud Houses
Lol, this always has me laughing. The media is still the culprit here for always showing typical African villages and not developed African cities. There are people still living in mud huts, yes but majority of people now live in brick and mortar houses with good roofing, interior and exterior design, modern toilets and well furnished with home appliances. There are numerous tall office buildings, thousands of hotels and even skyscrapers in Africa, Examples of modern African cities are Johannesburg, Accra, Abuja, etc.
#11 – Animals Everywhere
One of the most popular things about Africa is the large number of wild animals in it therefore many foreigners feel these animals are everywhere, roaming the streets and living with humans. That’s very wrong, wild animals are located entirely in the forests far away from towns and cities. The kind of animals you might find in most African homes are dogs, cats, goats, sheep and chickens.
#12 – No Technology
I am writing this article on my laptop plugged to an electric power source and with a 3.75G internet connection, internet speeds may not be as fast as in the US but many African countries and citizens have access to current technologies such as smartphones, computers, internet, game consoles and any other technology you can think of. So you see, Africa is not as backward and uncivilized as you thought.
#13 – Africans speak one language
This is quite funny because Africa has over 3000 distinct ethnic groups and 2000 indigenous languages. In addition, African countries have European languages as their national lingua franca based on the European country which colonized them, for example Ghana was colonized by the British and their national lingua franca is English, Niger was colonized by France and its lingua franca is French.