Article by Zainab Adelopo. [Photography of my beautiful sis]
“Do you speak African?” - Unfortunately “African” is not one of the approx. There are 2,000 languages spoken in Africa so no I don't speak African. So. Many. Misconceptions. It honestly makes me cringe every time someone asks me, “so did you live in a real house when you lived in Nigeria” or “do you really have computers there?”
It would be fair to say that most of the representations and misconceptions that people get from Africa are down to the media's portrayal of the continent (misconception: Africa is a country. It's not; it's a continent made up of 54 countries.). When you think of the continent of Africa in the Western world, I'm almost certain that you've heard at least 2 nouns and adjectives like hut, black, tribe, tribalism, primitive, nomad, animism, jungle, cannibal, savage, underdeveloped, third world, developing, etc.
Dark or black connotes fear, foreboding, and evil. Africa, as a continent, African nations, African people and lands, in the Western Media, and its constituencies, conjure up a entirely poverty stricken continent; Africa is sort of like the bastardized other, an outcast, subjected to relentless criticism while its vast resources are ruthlessly extracted by the same people who slander it.
So I've just come up with a list of common misconceptions that really should be eradicated
- That Africans are always behind on all the trends. Many people in Africa get access to a new technology gadget before some people in an “advanced country” even hear about it. (In fact my relatives in Nigeria have cooler phones than me, which is quite annoying)
- Another common misconception is that all African people are black. Being African doesn't equal being black. Yes, the majority of people living in Africa are black, however there are many whites, Indians and Arabs who call Africa home.
- Africans all live in mud huts. Wrong. African countries are made up of both rural and urban regions. So yes, if you are in the rural areas of Africa, yes you will see that a majority of the housing is thatched roofed, mud walled huts. But once in the urban areas, Africa is undergoing an explosion of urbanization with new housing developments coming up to cater for its growing middle classes
Those are just a few misconceptions about Africa. There's so much there that the media isn't showing or telling the Western world and so people automatically have this idea in their head that Africa is a complete hell hole.
So no, I don't speak African. I come from a tribe called the Yoruba tribe and we speak a language that is not called African, and it's not called Nigerian (there are around 200 languages spoken in Nigeria) it's called Yoruba. And look, I'm able to construct sentences in English! Woah!
My take-home point is that you shouldn't believe everything the media tells you because they will try to make you see things in a certain way and you're always better off doing your own research!