In the 21st century, there’s never been more focus on Africa than now. Thanks to the revolutions sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East, Africa has the world’s attention. But just because all eyes happen to be on Africa at the moment doesn’t mean myths about this part of the world have been dispelled. Despite the intense interest in Africa today, racial stereotypes about it persist. Do you have any misperceptions about Africa?
This list of common myths about Africa aims to clear them up.
What’s the No. 1 stereotype about Africa? Arguably, that Africa’s not a continent, but a country. Ever hear someone refer to African food or African art or even the African language? Such individuals have no idea that Africa’s the second largest continent in the world. Instead, they view it as a tiny country with no distinct traditions, cultures or ethnic groups. They fail to realize that referring to, say, African food sounds just as odd as referring to North American food or the North American language or the North American people.
Africa’s home to 53 countries, including island nations along the continent’s coast. These countries contain diverse groups of people who speak a variety of languages and practice a wide range of customs. Take Nigeria--Africa’s most populous country. Among the nation’s population of 152 million, more than 250 distinct ethnic groups live.
While English is the former British colony"s official language, the dialects of ethnic groups indigenous to the West African nation, such as Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, are commonly spoken as well. To boot, Nigerians practice Christianity, Islam and indigenous religions. So much for the myth that all Africans are alike.
The most populated nation on the continent certainly proves otherwise.
If you turn to popular culture for images of people on the African continent, you’re likely to notice a pattern. Time and time again, Africans are depicted as if they’re one and the same. You’ll see Africans portrayed wearing face paint and animal print and all with