African Stereotypes, Myths and Misconceptions

Dispelling some of the fictitious beliefs held about Africa
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Created by mbugguss

Published on Sep 5, 2023
landscape photo of Africa
Photo by Damian Patkowski on Unsplash


In 1993 the New York Times published a photo of a starving little Sudanese boy, right behind him was a vulture stalking him. After the sensation caused by the Kevin Carter Pulitzer winning photo, The Vulture and the Little Child, aid organizations widely used it to raise funds.

The photograph created awareness about the famine in the Sudan then, but it also accomplished something damaging. It depicted and sealed into people’s minds, the unreal and fictitious face of Africa. I have always thought that picture sealed Africa’s fate on how it is viewed up to the present day.

Here are some of the stereotypes, myths and misconceptions; Africa has to endure every day:


Africa is a Country

Africa is, in fact, the second largest continent after Asia, 6% of the world is covered by Africa. It comprises of over 50 countries that are independent. Each country has different tribes that speak different languages and have different cultures. There are over 1500 languages spoken in Africa today. Africa is very diverse.


There’s No Wi-Fi in Africa

Most people who visit Africa from the diaspora often go to remote lodges and camps deep in the bush. After all, they want to disconnect from their hectic lifestyles back at home. There is a need to stay connected to the internet, with remote work being typical now.

Nowadays, it is the norm for most camps and lodges to have an internet connection. It might not be as dependable as the one you are used to, of course. There's often a connection on tour vehicles as well for those very long incursions. There is Wi-Fi even in the African wilderness.


All of Africa is Dangerous

It is basic common sense to always stay alert and vigilant no matter where you are because your safety can never really be guaranteed. However, Africa is much safer than it is portrayed in the West. Choosing an experienced and respected tour company will offer you security and a smooth visit, with every aspect handled professionally.


Africa is a Jungle

This is a common one, supposedly people live with wild animals in Africa, and it is a misconception that has been widespread, especially by the film industry. Many animals in Africa live in game reserves and zoos, just like in the rest of the world. Sorry to disappoint you, but there are no lions and pythons roaming the streets.


All of Africa is Poor and Depends on Aid

Africa struggles with a myriad of problems, and aid comes in handy, and that is a fact. But not all African countries are wallowing in poverty. There are some countries with a lot of resources, such as crude oil, gold and diamonds. There are African countries that feature in the top 100 richest countries on the globe.


All Africans are Black

Not all Africans are black, as a matter of fact there are immigrants from all over the world who settled in Africa generations ago. There are white Africans, other Africans have different skin pigmentations varying from very dark to very light, and there are also mixed race Africans.


Africa still has a long way to go and there are huge problems yet to be handled, but most of the myths you’ve been privy to about it have been there for centuries. It’s only natural to speculate when there isn’t enough information or when the media sensationalizes a story. 

Africa has always been associated with the big five, and it’s not the majestic Elephant, the lion, the cheetah, the leopard or the rhino. It has always been poverty, Aids, corruption, famine and war. The fact is, not every African is sick, starving or is begging for a handout.

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