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Posted By Global Black Pages on 01/25/2021 in News

10 Common Misconceptions About Africa

10 Common Misconceptions About Africa

Africa

When you travel out of Africa and meet individuals who have never been to the continent, most of the time they tend to have certain perceptions that depict the continent in ways that are either not factual or are misleading.  Today, we look at 10 common misconceptions and stereotypes about Africa that have been passed on through various forms of media for decades and are believed to be the true representation of the continent.


Misconception 1: "Africa is a country"

One of the most common misconceptions is that Africa is one large country. Africa is a continent made up of 54 countries, with each country different from the other in terms of political, social, and economic structures. For instance, in political spheres, some African countries have heads of states who are kings. The monarchies of Africa include Morocco, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Some African governments are headed by a Prime Minister while others by a President. The 54 countries are all diverse and unique in their own way, and it is a miscue to think of them as one large country.


Misconception 2: "Africans Speak African"

Africa does not have one common language. The continent is a stronghold for diversity, and with this comes thousands of different languages spoken within it. It is estimated that there are over 2,000 languages spoken in Africa, with some countries like Nigeria having over 200 languages spoken by different ethnic groups.  However, it is important to note that there are some languages that are spoken across many countries; for instance, Swahili in East Africa, Zulu in Southern Africa, among others, but this does not translate to the ‘African’ language.


Facts about AfricaPhoto by Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash 

 


Misconception 3: "Entire North Africa natively speaks Arabic"

There is a general misconception that the entire people of North Africa speak Arabic. Morocco and Algeria are typical examples of this misconception.

One-third of Moroccans and one-quarter of Algerians do not speak Arabic as their first language. They speak Amazigh (native Berber language) as their first language.

In addition, French is one of the most dominant languages in Morocco. Far more people in Morocco are fluent in French than Arabic.


Misconception 4: “Christianity in Africa was brought by European Missionaries.”


Africa played a central role in the formation of Christianity. It is well-written in the Bible. Both Moses and Jesus grew up in Africa. The people who identify with modern-day Israel lived in Africa for more than 900 years.

Africans had established Christianity long before continental Europe. Carthage (Tunisia), Tripolitania (Libya), and Alexandria (Egypt) were centers of Christianity long before Rome became one.

Simon (who helped Jesus carry his cross came from Libya) and Mark (the founder of the Church of Alexandria/Coptic Church/Eastern Orthodox Church, and the author of the Gospel of Mark) also came from Africa.



Misconception 5: “Africa is home to only dark-skinned people.”

Most people regard Africa as one Black Country. In this regard, they do not consider North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt as part of Africa. This misconception is fueled by the skin color, race, and development in Egypt and Morocco compared to most of the Sub-Saharan region.

Africa is not only, in fact, a continent but the second largest continent on earth in which entire North America and Western Europe can fit into and leave some space for Australia.

There are more than 52 countries in Africa. The combined land area of the larger Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo is bigger than the combined land area of entire Western Europe. 

It is also important to note that there are also immigrants from other continents who have come to Africa many generations ago, and their descendants have settled on the continent ever since. A good example is South Africa, which is also called the Rainbow Nation because of the diversity it is known for when it comes to matters of skin color.


Misconception 6: Lack of Technology

One of the most common ways of slighting or insulting an African on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook is by someone who has never been to the continent retorting, ‘I didn’t know they have internet in Africa,’ or ‘I didn’t know Africans use computers.’ This is derived from the common misconception that has been advanced for decades that the continent lags behind in technological advancement, or worse, that there is no availability of technology on the continent. When it comes to technology, Africa has almost everything the rest of the world does. 

Africa leads in the rate of mobile phone connectivity and is also among the leading populations with mobile internet connectivity. Internet speeds in some parts of Kenya are faster than in North America and Europe. Kenya leads the world in mobile money usage and is among the global giants in terms of M-commerce.



Misconception 7: All Africans Live in Huts

There is a common misconception that all African people live in grass-thatched huts made of mud and dung. It is true that mud huts are one of the most common forms of housing in rural areas on the continent, but it would not be fair for us not to mention the rapidly growing urban centers throughout the continent. Many African nations are going through economic growth, which is leading to enormous growth in cities with brick and stone houses, clean tap water, internet connectivity, and electricity, as well as other basic necessities that are accessible to residents in some of the world’s best cities. The skyline of most African cities is nothing short of beautifully architecturally designed skyscrapers that have become a source of pride for their home countries.


Misconception 8: Africa is a Desert

While most of those who hold this misconception erroneously think that ‘Africa' and ‘Sahara' are synonymous, the fact is that the Sahara Desert occupies just about one-third of Africa. With an exception of the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, most of Sub-Saharan Africa is naturally vegetative.



Cape Town Facts about AfricaPhoto by Zoë Reeve on Unsplash 

 


Misconception 9: "Very few Africans speak English."

Nigeria has the fourth-largest English-speaking population - after the United States, India, and Pakistan. The world's renowned English literal giants such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka come from Nigeria.

The combined population of English speakers in Africa makes Africa a place with the second largest population in the world where English is spoken as an official language.

In fact, there are more English-speaking countries in Sub-Saharan Africa than in Europe. Apart from South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, other English-speaking countries include Uganda, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, among others.

Some are dual-speakers – such as Rwanda and Cameroon (Both have English and French as official languages).


Misconception 10: "All Africans Live in Huts"

There is a common misconception that all African people live in grass-thatched huts made of mud and dung. It is true that mud huts are one of the most common forms of housing in rural areas on the continent, but it would not be fair for us not to mention the rapidly growing urban centers throughout the continent. Many African nations are going through economic growth, which is leading to enormous growth in cities with brick and stone houses, clean tap water, internet connectivity, and electricity, as well as other basic necessities that are accessible to residents in some of the world’s best cities. The skyline of most African cities is nothing short of beautifully architecturally designed skyscrapers that have become a source of pride for their home countries.


Housing in AfricaPhoto by Grant Durr on Unsplash 

 


Conclusion

As can be evidenced by facts, most misconceptions about Africa emanate from ignorance, prejudices, and perhaps a tad bit of Western media propaganda. Those Westerners who come to Africa for the first time get baffled when they realize that they were living a myth when it comes to Africa.

Tourism and unbiased information are the best ways by which these misconceptions can be erased from Western minds.

We hope that the few facts provided herein have been able to trigger a conscious desire to know Africa more. Interacting with Africans and visiting Africa is the best way to have first-hand unbiased knowledge of Africa.

Read More: 24 Common Misconceptions About Africa

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