I get absolutely shocked when I am asked certain questions about Africa. Sometimes I am just forced to say, “Really, do you seriously think that is Africa?”
At least I get to answer questions but when they are comments on television or an overhead conversation, I have no other choice but to twitch.
Let’s begin by addressing a number of questions people ask about Africa;
“How do you manage to live on trees?” This was the most shocking question. Okay, the whole of Africa is not some remote desert without buildings. Besides, it is definitely not the 1400’s. There are huge mansions and luxurious properties in Africa too. I agree that there may be remote desert lands in certain areas in Africa but I have never seen such a place yet. Yes, guess that must be a bummer. I am Ghanaian not a monkey.
I remember when I was asked by a white lady from London this question,” How is your President, Nelson Mandela?” The fact that I am African does not mean I am South African. Africa is not a country; it is a continent. We have different countries in Africa like every other continent. The fifty four countries in Africa are not under one president. I don’t get why Africa has to be a country to the west. This is the 21st century, come on!
On a visit to London, I was asked by a girl at the mall, “Are you hungry?” I was stunned at the question. As much as I was touched by the little girl’s heart, I didn’t know what exactly to say because I had visited the mall to get some groceries for a meal. However, it is an ideology of the west that since you are from Africa, you are hungry and poor. Not all Africans are hungry….what am I even saying? Let me try to explain this better. There are definitely some very poor African countries but not every country is poor and hungry. I am certainly not hungry all the time because I am African. When I am hungry, I eat just like everybody else.
“How do you manage to travel many miles on foot?” is apparently a typical question to hear when people find out you’re from Africa. Mostly, I simply do not know how to answer these questions. “He definitely does not think I travelled to London on foot, does he?” were my thoughts when I was asked that question. There are great vehicles in Ghana; latest models that flood the roads of Ghana are usually not so common in many areas in London. There are AEROPLANES too. That is how I travel if you are still wondering.
“Do you speak African?” this one is the billion dollar question. “WHAT?!” I almost lost my mind when I was asked that question. There is nothing like African. How do I ask if anybody speaks Asian, American or European? They are continents not languages. I am from Ghana and the dominant language is Twi. I speak Twi not African and obviously, I can speak English as well so quit the sign languages and the slow speech… I get it.
All these thoughts triggered as I watched the CNN news and heard how repeatedly Africa was addressed as a country. Their constant referral to the Ebola epidemic to have swallowed the whole of Africa was so irritating. Meanwhile, Ebola had been recorded in few countries in Africa. Right now, Sierra Leone is the country that is still fighting the epidemic.
I posted this some time back whilst I was on wordpress.com and my favorite fan at the time, Julie Buhite from the U.S.A, laughed so hard when she read my post. She however made a comment on the post that explained the level of ignorance of the west pertaining to Africa. Africa is usually portrayed to the outside world as primitive and poor; that is the part people often see on the television.
Oprah Winfrey confessed that she hated it…in fact was embarrassed when she was called the African girl because of how she saw Africa on the television. Little did she know, that Africa is a continent with beautiful nations as well. So we can agree with the woman in the video after all, “Africa is a nice CITY”. To stay updated on the diaries of Africa, please subscribe to stay updated. You can send in your questions and contributions, would love to hear them.