Debunking Top Five Misconceptions about Africa

Fredrick Ngugi Apr 18, 2016 at 10:58am

April 18, 2016 at 10:58 am | Opinions & Features

Fredrick Ngugi

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

April 18, 2016 at 10:58 am | Opinions & Features

A lot has been said about Africa. Some even refer to Africa as the Dark Continent or the Jungle. The question is: How much of this is true?

While some people maliciously portray the African continent in a bad light for reasons best known to them, others are innocently echoing long-held misconceptions about the continent. The time is always right to debunk some of these myths.

This article seeks to set the record straight on five of the most common misconceptions about Africa.

Africa Lacks Technological Capacity

It’s laughable for anyone to assume that just because Africa hasn’t built multi-billion dollar technology firms such as Google, Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook, the continent is technologically backward and lacks the capacity to create anything meaningful.

The truth is that innovation is in Africa’s DNA.

Consider the young Kenyan university students whose research project led to the creation of M-Pesa – a mobile money transfer platform that is transforming lives across the world. Cardiopad is another groundbreaking technology invented by Marc Arthur, a young Cameroonian. This heart examination tablet has helped healthcare workers in remote areas to examine heart conditions and send results to urban hospitals for further examination, saving patients the hassle of traveling all the way to the hospital.

Africa Is a Desert

For those who have only travelled to North Africa (Sahara Desert) it’s excusable to imagine that the entire African continent is always dry and hot. But the narrative that Africa is a desert couldn’t be farther from the truth. From West Africa to Central Africa, East Africa and South Africa, the continent is ever green. Even in countries that are covered by the Sahara Desert, climates are conducive for farming, habitation and holidaying.

Africa Bleeds Corruption

Just because there are numerous corrupt individuals in Africa, it doesn’t mean the entire continent is corrupt. While some African leaders are involved in serious corruption scandals, the continent has produced its fair share of great and honest men and women. The late Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, proved to the world that he could stand his ground and demand for fairness. Late Professor Wangari Maathai – a former Kenyan minister, member of parliament and Nobel Prize Winner – was a woman of honor. She stood against a government that wanted to destroy the only forest in the capital city of Nairobi. Let’s not forget the likes of Desmond Tutu, Steve Biko and other great Africans who have always stood up for the truth.

Africa Is about War, Hunger and Diseases

It’s true that Africa has experienced some of the worst civil wars and politically-instigated massacres, but to assume that the whole content is ever submerged in war is naïve.

Africa has been and continues to be the safest part of the world. It would be wrong to judge the whole of Europe by the unfortunate terror incidents that recently happened in Belgium and France. It would also be wrong to label the United States of America as unsafe because of the deadly 9/11 terror attack. So it’s also not right to condemn the whole African continent for what is happening in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi and Central African Republic.

Africa Depends on Foreign Aid to Develop

Without doubt, foreign aid has played a significant role in giving less fortunate Africans a better life. However, it is a serious fallacy to assume that the entire continent relies on aid for its daily sustenance. Africans are some of the most hardworking human beings in the entire world. Even with the slow economic development, Africans are doing their best to live decent lives. Gone are the days when African governments waited for handouts from overseas.

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