Dear Americans: Africa is a beautiful continent, not a jungle!

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Everyday we wake up to blanketed statements labeling the continent of Africa a s**thole, a jungle, ebola-infested, war-ridden and famine-stricken place. Even the people whom you would think should know better actual perpetuate this characterization. While ignorance is bliss, it is actually a burden to those who know better and we have been left with no option but to aggressively continue to seek the re-education of the world about our motherland.

When I came to the United States, it took me by surprise when I realized a lot of Americans hardly know anything about Africa. When I speak in English , I get comments like “Your English is good! How come you speak English? Where did you learn English?” As soon as I hear such comments, my sixth sense wants to seize that opportunity and give a detailed account of Africa. But in most cases , I nicely inform them that we do have schools in Africa.

I have been asked many weird, funny and at times offending questions.  My African fellows and I have been  asked how we came to United States. Some do not even believe there are airports anywhere on the continent. We  have been asked how  life is like living in the jungle with animals. We have been asked if we lived in trees and dined with baboons. In most cases we have faced contempt even at workplaces because some do not believe an African has neither intellectual ability nor the skill required to solve first world problems.

It was offending at first but they say, if the world throws lemons at you just make lemonade, and we have taken this opportunity to aggressively tell the truth and re-educate our friends and neighbors.

1. Africa Is Not A Country! 

Africa is the world’s second largest continent. It spans over 30.3 million km2 which is about 11.7 million square miles. It has a population of over 1 billion people. So when I meet you and we nicely connect. Please do not ruin our conversations  by  asking me if I know your neighbor from Kenya or your former employee from Senegal. I appreciate your good relations with your neighbor and workmate. I don’t know them, for the same reason you won’t know Bill from Canada and Miguel from Mexico. Africa has 54 countries. Just like North America  has USA, Panama, Mexico etc , Africa has Namibia, Egypt, Botswana, Kenya and Fifty other countries. How about a quick look at the map of Africa. 

 

2. Africans Don’t Live In Caves 

I am not so sure from which movie y’all have seen Africans cuddled up in a cave or in some nest on a tree. Just like in United States you have people who are extremely rich, those in middle class, the poor and also the homeless.

An Upscale 5 Bedroom Home in Lusaka, Zambia

 

The above picture is a model house for the rich Africans. They live in low-density suburbs. The very rich own multiple properties that are much bigger and nicer than the above house.

Generally, the middle class in cities live in cozy homes that are comfortable for families of 5-8 people.  There are also places that are known as high density suburbs. There people still live in decent houses except the houses are close to each other. Just like the images below.

Rural Africa has many different types of houses. While some places might be advanced, some might still be backward. Depending on the culture, the houses may differ. Down south you can encounter pole and mud houses, reed homes, brick homes and  stone homes. Below home is a beehive home found in  South Africa.

A Beehive home in KwaZulu South Africa. Photo by Maureen Barlin

 

3. We Have Cities And Towns Too!

I am just going to post a few pictures of cities and towns in Africa just to help you understand that it is not a jungle out there!

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia . Photo Credit Ayibamagazine

 

Khartoum, Sudan

 

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

 

4. Not Every Place Is a War Zone

Here is  a startling fact, the number of people who died as a result of conflict in Africa in 2017 is four times less that the total number of opioid fatalities in USA during the same period! That should give you an indication of the limited threat that exists.

Of the 54 countries, less than 10 can be considered active zones of conflict. There are places in Africa where a kid can grow to death without hearing the sound of a gun except on TV. There are places for example in Botswana where people generally do not lock their doors.

So, my friends there is a lot that is going on in Africa, like any continent there are good things and bad things; there are problems and also great initiatives. Our hope is that you will continue to visit this blog as we chronicle the beauty that has been hidden from you for all these years.

Asante Sana!