BY Zirra Banu, 12:00am May 26, 2011,

Africa — Is That a Country?

It is likely that you will be asked this question in one manner or another, if you live in the West.

For one time too many, Africa has been assumed to be a state — a single country — rather than the continent of 54 independent states, hundreds of nationalities, and thousands of languages that it is.

Africa — Is That a Country?I’ve met grown men and women, college goers and graduates, who have referred to Africa as a country. It disheartens and amuses me simultaneously. I can only think of two bases behind their reasoning:

  1. Honest ignorance
  2. Limited African representation

The basis of “honest” ignorance may be condoned or rejected. We might assume that they simply don’t know better. Then again, anyone old and sensible enough to be accepted into (any) college must be enlightened enough to deduce that there are seven continents on our planet, and Africa is indeed one of them. Therefore, the assumption that Africa is a continent cannot be credited to honest ignorance alone — surely, it must be more than that.

So we are left to tackle the idea of need for proper African representation. Perhaps there are not enough Africans internationally to explain their heritage. Perhaps they don’t care. But then again, Africa has produced historic giants like Desmond Tutu, political leaders like Nelson Mandela, and even superstars like Seal and Charlize Theron. Africa constantly produces high-caliber global citizens who can educate the world on our heritage. So how is it that to most of the world, Africa still remains (arguably) irrelevant?

How is it that an entire continent brimming with culture and civilization, boasting of languages and life, overflowing with abundant human and natural resources, is so easily overlooked? 


Is this, and should this be excused? Are we, as Africans, doing enough to highlight our heritage? Because no matter what, Africans will most definitely remain African—it cannot change. As an African, your roots will always be African, regardless of any change in your residency or passport. African you were born, and African you will remain. It is written in your persona, because it is your heritage.


What can be done to put Africa en par with other continents that currently overshadow it? Should “Africa” simply remain a country in the minds of those who see it that way?

Surely the existence of a continent cannot be dictated by opinion alone, but if even semi-educated adults wonder about the status of an entire continent, there must be something wrong somewhere. While individuals may be left in charge of their own education, Africans can do something about the perception of their heritage and the prominence of their continent.

So people — Africans, semi-Africans and African affiliates alike — what can we do to elevate the status of our continent?

Think, or the next time you are asked the question, “Is Africa a country or a continent?” you just might ponder over the best answer.

Africa — Is That a Country?

Last Edited by: Updated: June 19, 2018


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