How many misconceptions have you heard about travelling to Africa? With no doubts, they are a lot. While it may be a dream of a lifetime to anyone living outside Africa to travel there, there are many misconceptions which you have heard about Africa which are certainly not true and some may induce fear to your decision to travelling to Africa. Below are some of the misconceptions we’ve heard about Africa;
- Africans do not speak English
It may surprise you to know that there are more than a dozen of African countries where English is the official language. Some of them are Zimbabwe, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, South Africa, and Nigeria. So do Africans speak english? Absolutely yes. Though it may not be the official language for all the countries. Most countries took after their colonial master’s language you will therefore find in some parts of Africa, French and Portuguese as the Official language.
- All African Countries are Poor
Some people also assume that all African countries are poor and are always in need of aids and donations. Did you know that South Africa is a gold mining country, that countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles just to mention a few are among the leading tourism destinations in the world and have some of the best and world class hotels and attractions? Do you know that West African countries like Nigeria, Niger and Libya just to mention a few produce and export oil to the world? Do you also know that Kenya which is in East Africa is a leading exporter of one of the world’s finest tea and coffee?In as much as many of the countries are still developing, the poverty levels are not as extreme.
- Africa is Dangerous and Violent
With tribal, political and terrorism stories running through the news all time, most people now fear travelling to Africa, thinking it is one of the most dangerous places to be. We all know that bad news sells, so this should not hinder you from travelling to Africa. In fact 95% of the countries are peaceful and stable. Kenya for example is among the leading world travel destinations in the world and thousands of tourist are visiting the country yearly. This also applies to other countries like Tanzania and South Africa. Talk to people who have travelled before and get to know how their experience was like before fear puts you back
- Africa is Ridden with Diseases
This is quite an interesting misconception and especially to me, because in the course of my placement advising years in Elective Africa, most participants coming for the programs are always very concerned with the vaccines they are supposed to take while in Africa. Vaccines are always good as a preventive measure for contracting diseases but this does not mean mean that when you travel to Africa you will most likely get sick. There are also cases of tropical diseases like Malaria and epidemics such as HIV/AIDS. Even with limited resources within most of the healthcare systems in African countries, it may interest you to know that there are very good and well structured hospitals which are either government or privately owned that provide healthcare services to the population.
- Africa is a Wilderness with very Illiterate People.
Interesting, right? This is very true that most people think of Africa as a very bushy place or rather a wilderness, where people live and behave like animals. You will be surprised by some of the big cities which are in most of the Africa countries and even the level of literacy of the people in most of these countries. Most people also prefer to travel abroad only to come and live in African countries either for their studies or even after retiring. They find Africa quite a good place to rest
There are some communities though who still live in the wilderness e.g Maasai. They are literate but it is their way of life.
- Africa never existed before the colonial periods.
It is a common misconception too that Africa has no history and it only came to exist during and after the pre colonial era. However this is not true as Africa has it’s history way before the colonial period. Today there are many historical sites and museums which give a history and even evidence of the existence of Africa many years ago before it was even discovered by the colonisers. By visiting these historical places like the Gedi ruins and Fort Jesus, you will learn more of how the Africa people existed way before including their way of dressing, day to day lifestyles, traditions, eating habits just to mention a few. There are even communities like the KhoiKhoi people in the Kalahari desert who uphold their lifestyles up to date.
Some Africa communities also have their myths of origin. In many Bantu myths for example; the first man is believed to have come from a plant and other traditions believe the first man to have come from a cave or a hole e.g, According to the Zulu of South Africa the first man is believed to have come from a bamboo stem
- Africa is a Country
There are people even up to date when they hear of the word Africa, think of it as one country.
Africa is a continent, the same way we have Europe, Australia, Asia, America. Africa has 54 countries each of them with its own government. There are countries that have the monarch system of government, where a King is the leader, and the position is hereditary and there are some with the parliamentary system, where elections are held and leaders elected.
- All Africans are black and speak one language called African
This is one of the most interesting misconceptions that I have come across about Africa.
Africa is a diverse continent with some countries having a different races. For instance in Kenyan Coast, you will meet the swahili people, majority of them are light skinned due to the arabic lineage they came from. Africa has diversity of languages. It may be interesting to know that french is widely spoken in West Africa. A country like Kenya has over 42 ethnic tribes all speaking different languages and a country like South Africa has over 11 different tribes
- 10.Africa is a desert with wild animals roaming freely
This sounds quite interesting too. The name Africa sounds like a desert place where animals live freely and perhaps even the people live and interact with the animals. However this is not true at all and even with the results of globalisations most people are now starting to understand that Africa is a land of diverse vegetation all in different parts and countries. The wild animals also do not roam freely as they are enclosed in game parks or game reserves and to note is that they are a major attraction to tourists all over the world.
Now you know some facts about Africa. Make it one of your dream list wishes to travel to this beautiful continent and explore what mother nature has to offer