When you hear the word “Africa” do you immediately think of small, starving African children living in grass huts with dirt floors? Did your parents ever tell you to be thankful for what you were served for dinner because there are “starving kids in Africa” who would be grateful to have your brussel sprouts? Contrary to popular belief, there is more to Africa besides naked children, grass huts, and dirt.
Usually, when Africa is featured by the media, the image portrayed is often negative. Africa is often associated with poverty, illness, humanitarian crises and starving teary-eyed children. [i] As a result of the images and stories provided by the media, many people have a distorted or even false view of Africa and the people who live there.
One of the mistakes many people make is thinking that Africa is a country. In fact, Africa is the second largest continents on Earth, comprised of 54 countries! Africa contains the longest river in the world, the Nile River, as well as the Sahara desert, which is the largest desert in the world.[ii] In addition to Africa’s amazing geographical facts, there is also some fantastic information about African people and the African culture.
Africa is incredibly diverse. It is made up of various tribes and people of many social and ethnic groups. There are approximately 3000 groups/tribes in Africa.[iii] Some of the groups are small with just hundreds of thousands of people while other groups have millions. Moreover, each social and ethnic group also has its own language and culture. There are over 2100 languages spoken in Africa. Another attestation to Africa’s diversity is the number of different religions practiced there. The religions practiced in Africa include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and some people even practice Judaism.
In order to put an end to some of the stereotypes and reveal the Africa that the media never displays, young Africans started posting on social media to show what their lives are really like. [iv] Using the hashtag #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou, these young people are disposing of many of today’s myths and misconceptions about Africa and showing the world a real look at where they live. Here are some of the latest social media post:
Another subject people don’t hear much about is Africa’s rich literature. Modern African writing, whether it is written in African languages or in former colonial languages, is beginning to be recognized internationally.[v] There are a number of African writers who have received literary awards world-wide. Specifically, there are three African Nobel prizewinners for literature. Nigerian author, Wole Soyinka was given a Nobel Prize in 1986. Najiib Mahfuz from Egypt received the Nobel Prize in 1988. Last, but not least, South Africa’s Nadine Gordimer receive the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991. Whether one is interested in only written works or expands to folklore, oral historical epics, and praise poetry, Africa’s literary traditions are long and rich. Today, you can even find some African literature on American bookshelves like Akiti The Hunter – the 1st African Action Superhero, a bestselling children’s books that has saturated the American market and children’s classrooms across country.
Africa is so much more than the place where giraffes and zebras run around. Although the media rarely shows it, Africa is abundant in geography, culture, literature, etc. Is everything in Africa picture perfect? Of course not. Some Africans still experience poverty and disease, but Africa is much more developed and has much more potential than the media displays. The media needs to expand its portrayal of Africa to include the many positive aspects and stop grouping over a billion people from 54 countries into one limited image. It’s time everyone took a real look at Africa.
This is Nigeria Courtesy of Lagos Capitalist
By: Angela Lewis
[i] www.huffingtonpost.com. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/02/the-africa-media-never-shows_n_7714992.html
[ii] www.worldatlas.com. http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/af.htm
[iii] www.intersting-africa-facts.com. http://interesting-africa-facts.com/Africa-People/Africa-People.html
[iv] www.upworthy.com. http://www.upworthy.com/young-africans-are-posting-images-of-their-lives-to-show-what-the-media-wont?c=ufb2
[v] www.bu.edu. http://www.bu.edu/library/guide/africanculture/