opinion · Questions and Answers

QotD Oct 11 — Africa

Today’s prompt is an interesting one. And it’s neither happy nor sad, well not for me anyway. I don’t have a lot to say in the introduction so I’ll get right to the prompt. Which is: What do you think of when you think of Africa?

What do you think of when you think of Africa?

When I think of Africa, I think of how huge it is. I think that a lot of Americans from the United States have this idea that Africa is one country, but it is a continent and it is huge. I have had friends from different countries in Africa and over time came to realize just how enormous it is. Here is a map that compares the USA to Africa

From here

Yeah, I know that the USA is a country and Africa is a continent, but here’s the thing, dear reader. So many people think of Africa as a country, and I’m not sure why. It is not a country. For instance, the friends I mentions before came from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, and Kenya. All of them are different and distinct countries with their own laws, governments, customs, people, and environments. But the minute my friends said they are from Africa, so many people would assume that they are basically the same, just because they’re all from Africa. Nothing is further from the truth. That would be like saying someone from the USA is the same as someone from Canada or Mexico because we’re all, technically, from America. Hell, it’s one of my pet peeves that people assume everyone from the United States is basically the same. We’re totally not. The United States may not be as huge as Africa, but we’re totally ginormous for a country. We’re not homogeneous. Someone who was born and raised in Washington will be a completely different person than someone who was born in raised in Florida. Different laws, different customs, different weather. Everything. But I digress. We’re talking about Africa.

It’s the same though. Africa is a very diverse continent. And I just don’t understand where a lot of people got this idea that it’s this one, uniform land mass where everyone is exactly the same. I can guarantee that someone born and raised in South Africa will not be the same as someone born and raised in Kenya. Part of the problem, I think, stems from the old maps we used to have in our classrooms. Some classrooms still have them. They showed Africa as a much smaller place. And — I’m going to say a controversial thing here — a huge contributor to this idea, at least here in the United States was the whole slavery debacle. Now we have the identity of African-Americans. There is nothing wrong with this identity, and I’m not looking down on African-Americans at all. But because slaves came from all areas of Africa, the descendants of those slaves do not know what part of Africa their ancestors came from. They know nothing of Africa really only that they are from there — distantly. I speak generally of course. Maybe some have traced their lineage back, I dunno, but most of my friends have said to me that they’ve not. Slave owners did not bother keeping records of where their slaves came from, so we do have this… conglomeration of “African” here in the United States. Which — I think — has contributed to idea that Africa is one entity and not a diverse continent. I guess what I’m saying is, if the thing that you think of, dear reader, when you think of Africa is lions and giraffes, that’s fine, but that’s only part of Africa. I mean, if someone thinks of cowboys and horses when they think of the USA, that’s okay, but that is also only a small part of the USA. So far as I know, cowboys never made it to New York City other than as tourists. ^_^ Stereotypes serve their purposes, I suppose, but when they define a place… I think that’s kind of sad.

Image courtesy of NASA.

Edited to add. I totally forgot that I have had friends from Egypt. and that Egypt is in Africa. I mean, I know Egypt is in Africa, but I sometimes forget that it is too. It’s weird how my geography knowledge gets all mixed up. So there you are.

3 thoughts on “QotD Oct 11 — Africa

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