Bad news sells. Yes, bad news about Africa sells. Western media does not bate an eyelid when reporting the narrative that suits the Western agenda. Western media's portrayal of African news and culture is driven by commercial interests, socio-cultural bias, and political concerns. As a result, there is a lack of a fundamental understanding and perception of Africa, and most importantly, the appreciation of its difference from other continents.
The image of Africa propagated by Western media is far from reality. But, unfortunately, this is how Western media misinterpret Africa.
1. Africa has no technology and innovation.
You will often hear remarks such as, ‘I didn’t know they have internet’ or ‘I didn't know they have phones.' Such statements are driven by the narrative pushed by the western media that Africa is so backward that they have never come across basic ICTs. Although Africa is slightly behind, they have almost every technology that the rest of the world has. Africa is the fastest region growing when it comes to mobile growth. Egypt is recognized for its digital media and technology efforts, with some of the highest graduating rates.
2. All African countries are poor and dependent on aid
No doubt, poverty is one of Africa's biggest problems and struggles. But not all regions and countries are deeply impoverished. Perhaps the same with some European areas such as Ukraine and Georgia in Europe. Africa is one of the wealthiest continents, endowed with minerals and other natural resources such as gold, diamond, and oil.
3. Africa is full of corruption and war.
Like any other region in the world, Africa is not immune from corruption in its governing structures. However, the level of corruption in Africa is blown of proportion. Some of the countries in Africa are listed amongst the most transparent and least corrupt rankings. The interference of the West in the internal affairs of African countries has significantly contributed to wars and turmoil.
4. Education is non-existent in Africa.
Western media has done the most to portray Africa as ignorant, illiterate, and uncivilized. Hollywood movies are guilty of creating stereotypes which shape prejudices about Africa. The unfortunate portrayal is that there are no schools in Africa. Children spend their time in the wild hunting and gathering. Of course, education in Africa is lagging, but it's progressing towards a developmental trajectory. The literacy rates have been increasing since 2008.
5. Africa had no civilization in its history.
Egypt contributed significantly to civilization through learning, languages, and technology. The Kingdom of Kush, Great Zimbabwe, and the kingdom of Aksum influenced Europe and Asia. These were wealthy kingdoms in the abundance of gold, ivory, and so forth. Great Zimbabwe is amazingly praised for the long structures without mortar, just bricks only, excellent knowledge of architecture. Early Egyptian civilization devised methods of multiplication and division, which is a significant contribution to mathematics.
6. African countries have no urban areas of town; it’s just villages and towns.
The depiction of Africa in movies as 'Wakanda' falsely represents Africa. In the eyes of many Western people, Africa is seen as a wilderness with no buildings. People are roaming around clad in animal skin. This is by far the biggest misconception. Africa is developing and already has impressive infrastructure and facilities. Cities like Cape Town stand as testimony that Africa has more urbanized regions than other regions in America, Europe, and Asia, with clean water, tarred roads, electricity, and internet connectivity.
7. Population boom in Africa.
Predictions by the likes of Bill Gates that there will be a boom in the African population, and the adverse risks and propagation of such falsehoods by Western media have done massive harm to African image. Africa has a lot of unused lands; the notion of overpopulation is false. The growth of the African population is good for the development of Africa. A lot of new land will be developed.
8. African is a language, and African people don’t speak English.
If 'African' was a language, I don't know how it would sound; as a matter of fact, I cannot imagine. Whether in movies or news channels, Africans are hardly presented as English-speaking beings (not that English is superior); the uniqueness of our languages is interpreted as mumbles, the African language. There are over 2 000 languages used in Africa, including English, French, Italian, and Spanish.
9. Africa is disease-ridden.
The Western media have overplayed images of Kwashiokored kids, bony men, and women, and persistent breakout diseases such as Ebola to portray a stereotypical view of ever diseased Africans. In truth, African countries are always held responsible for any illnesses that break out, Aids and Covid-19. George Bush once said, “Africa is a nation that suffers from terrible diseases." Africa is not the only continent plagued by diseases; the only difference is the nature of the conditions. The truth is that Africans are inclined to heal faster than other continents, perhaps because of the abundance of natural medicine.
10. Africa is always hot.
The historical lie that Cecil John Rhodes moved away from England because his doctor had recommended that he live in hotter temperatures, and Africa was ideal, is responsible for such stereotypes. Of course, some regions are desirable, but not all of them. Africa experiences varied temperature ranges according to the seasons. Some countries experience snow during winter; South Africa, Lesotho, and Morocco. Assuming Africa is always hot is equivalent to asking, “How’s the weather like in Europe”?
A content writer passionate about the history of Africa. An observer and researcher on social-political issues affecting Africa. He who speaks his mind speaks the truth.
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