Hi! I live in “Africa”, quotations intended. Or if you have read my About page you know that I am situated in Tanzania. But what’s the difference?!
Living in “Africa”, quotations intended, has given my countless opportunities, expanded my perception of the world and has made me appreciative of what I have. However, my biggest question after living here for some years is “why Africa”? And what I mean by that is why when referring to this continent of over 50+ countries is it simply called “Africa”? Everyone living outside of “Africa”, quotations intended, is guilty of saying this and I have questioned what is the origin of simply stating “Africa”. In short, I have yet to find an answer.
Why does saying “Africa”, quotations intended, bother me?
Well…..when was the last time you heard news on the United States of America being referred to as just “North America”? Or news that has unraveled specifically in Mexico being referred to as just “North America”? Never! Stating North America encompasses three big nations and a couple of smaller ones. How could one possibly fathom where the news was referring to? Unfortunately, in the news, in movies, in your favorite television shows, and your most beloved celebrities are all guilty of just saying “Africa” when referring to somewhere on the continent. But where? Africa is not a country! Are they referring to Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe?! I guess it just does not matter.
Do you see where I am getting at?
By simply stating “Africa” you are generalizing one of the most diverse continents on the planet as a single country. You are unifying languages, peoples, cultures, languages (which total in the hundreds if not thousands), history, economies, societies, governments, the list goes on. Africa is not a continent where there is a collective societal structure! Countries in Africa, like every other continent in the world, are different. Imagine that a 45 minute flight from where I live will result in a change in languages, a change of tribes, a change of people, a change in governments, etcetera. To put this into comparison, the states in the America are agreeably different from each other. New York is not like California, Wyoming is not like Hawaii and Maine is not Texas. Imagine if someone said they lived in America to you, does it not matter to you where? In a country of over 300 million people, culture, accents and societies change within a 2-3 hour drive If someone bluntly said on the news “……..unravelling stories in North America” would you shrug it off and not question if Mexico, Canada or America was being referenced? Then, please, imagine if you are referring to a CONTINENT, not a country of over 1 billion people and how uneducated it sounds to just say “Africa”. Are you seeing the bigger picture?
Why saying “Africa” should bother you?
The term “Africa” is used by the biggest American media sources, its used by writers, people with college degrees, adults, teenagers, etcetera. America is a country of educated people, one of the highest literacy rates in the world in fact, but does saying “Africa”, quotations intended, when referencing somewhere in the continent sound educated after what I just presented to you? Hopefully not. If not, share with me why you also think that the term “Africa” is not an educated expression. Share with me why you believe we say “Africa” and not “North America”. Why is it that we have become indifferent when saying “Africa”? And please, for more thought provoking topics, check out my other post on “Africa” which discusses the misconceptions of poverty.