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10 Common Misconceptions And Stereotypes About Africa

By Parker Diakite

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It’s no secret that there are a ton of misconceptions about Africa from the West. In 2018, for example, the world watched in disbelief as Donald Trump referred to African nations as “sh*thole countries.” And while his comments could not be more wrong, they reveal a bigger issue: people are misinformed about Africa.

Africa is complex, like many places around the world, but its imperfections are just as beautiful as its complexities.

Here are 10 common myths about Africa debunked.

Myth 1: Countries In Africa Are Lacking In Innovation

There’s this misconception that countries in Africa are lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of innovative technology.  Not only is that a myth but the rest of the world should pay attention to what’s happening in Africa and follow suit.

In 2013, Nigeria’s first drone was created at the Nigerian Air Force School of Engineers. It can fly nonstop at 3,000 feet for nearly four hours and known to be Nigeria’s first indigenous drone flight, according to Aperian Global.

Myth 2: “African” Is A Language

It is estimated that there are over 2,000 languages spoken in Africa. In some countries like Nigeria, there are reportedly more than 200 languages spoken by various ethnic groups.

Myth 3: Africa Is A Desert

This one may come as a surprise but, yes, it snows in Africa.  In fact, there are ski resorts in Morocco. In some countries with high elevations, you can experience snowfall as well.

Myth 4: The Continent Is Disease-Ridden

Similar to other countries around the world, some African countries lack adequate health resources.  Even though there has been a huge amount of attention on HIV/AIDS and more recently Ebola, the truth is the hysteria around diseases like Ebola is due to misinformation.

It’s possible to get good care in Africa.  In fact, Rwanda is on track to be the first country to eliminate cervical cancer.

Myth 5: It’s Not Safe To Travel

Sure, there are parts of Africa that may not be recommended for international tourists, but that is not reflective of the continent as a whole.

Crimes happen everywhere and with any other destination, staying safe is mostly using common sense. 

Senegal,  Ghana,  Kenya, South Africa, and Rwanda are just a few countries on the continent known for its hospitality.

Myth 6: Dangerous Animals Roam The Streets

You can see rhinos, lions, and hyenas roam around “free” but they’re confined to national parks and reserves.

Myth 7: People On The Continent Share A Homogenous Culture

There’s a common misbelief that people throughout the continent share a single culture. 

Africa is so diverse that no country is governed by the same culture or principles. 

Myth 8: Africa Is A Country

Africa is a continent made up of 54 countries.  It’s the second-largest continent in the world.  Out of more than 190 countries on this Earth,  a quarter of them are located in Africa where the population exceeds 1 billion.

Myth 9: Everyone Lives In Extreme Poverty

Poverty in Africa is not exactly a result of a lack of wealth.  In fact, of the 15 Black billionaires in the world, 7 are African.

Africa’s failure to distribute wealth evenly is actually one of the direct causes of poverty.

Myth 10: Africa is Full Of Corrupt Governments

Corrupt politicians are a problem everywhere and while some countries have their issues in Africa, many of the countries have been regularly praised for their lack of corruption, including Cape Verde, Seychelles, Rwanda, and Namibia. 

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