When it comes to visiting or living in Africa, there’s one question on everyone’s mind – is Africa safe? The answer is yes. Africa is home to more than 54 countries spanning almost 12 million square miles, and many of those countries are relatively safe compared to other popular expatriate destinations. But western media presents another image.
Fictional stories 1: Wakanda
The question many non-Africans have asked after watching the movie Coming to America is whether it is a true representation of Africa, depicting as it does a scattered settlement surrounded by wild animals. It was written by Barry W Blaustein, David Sheffield and Kenya Barris, who are not Africans. In addition, it was produced by Eddie Murphy and directed by Craig Brewer, both American.
Murphy created a fictional story about the crown prince of Zamunda, a fictional African nation. The reality of this comedic and cultural phenomenon perpetuated a myth about how Africa lives. A British friend even asked me after viewing it whether Africa is a country surrounded by wild animals!
It always causes an outburst of laughter when such questions are asked by non-Africans who are carried away by fictitious stories about Africa. I once asked an African American friend to name a country in Africa and she said “Wakanda”. It elicited a belly-laugh response, but I could relate to how she had soaked herself in a make-believe story of Black Panther, a fictional African identity, again created by Hollywood.
Fictional stories 2: The Gods Must Be Crazy
The Gods Must Be Crazy is another classic example of how Africa is perceived as an uncivilised, illiterate, poor, and underdeveloped continent. This film insinuates that Africa needs western intervention and salvation for Africa to prosper. This has become the mindset of non-Africans who continue to see Africa as a poverty-stricken continent.
The Gods Must Be Crazy humorously and subtly created an inappropriate impression of the continent. This South African comedy film was released in 1980 during the most bitter years of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.
The Gods Must Be Crazy was written, produced, edited and directed by Jamie Uys, who is a white South African. Part Two was released by Columbia Pictures in 1989 and this became an instant blockbuster, opening in theatres worldwide. The movie has generated a lot of controversies with academic and non-academic writers to date.
The western media portrayal of Africa
Feature-length films and documentaries produced and televised by western media have given the wrong notion of Africa for too long. This has damaged the image of the continent, and it is up to African media to sit up and start telling nuanced and real stories of Africa to change the narrative.
The continent’s storytellers, in partnership with African media investors, must feed a need to change the narrative, by creating a high quality platform for the streaming and broadcasting of real African stories.
NGOs and Africa
Humanitarian organisations such as Unicef, the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders survive by portraying Africa as a poor continent to get funding for their operations. Known international NGOs have become rich portraying Africa as a poor continent through TV commercials in the western media. It has become a perception that will take a finetuned energy to change the narrative.
It is always easy for western countries to provide aid for Africans but, in reality, it is often a smokescreen that can disguise the looting of the continent’s natural resources. If Africa is perceived as a poor continent, why is it difficult for the West to do without Africa’s natural resources? Africa is not poor, but must combat the problem of poor leadership, which has failed to maximise the continent’s potential.
Do Africans hate African Americans?
The Diaspora Affairs Office, established in 2017, said at least 1,500 African Americans have moved to Ghana since 2019. This is the outcome of Ghanaian government campaigns for Africans in the diaspora to get to know Africa and identify with their roots. Many black Americans have continued to flock in their hundreds to Africa. They fall in love with the beautiful continent, being received warmly and treated like sons of the soil.
Many have shared beautiful experiences of love and acceptance while acclimatising to the weather and coping with the challenges of living in Africa. Turning 50, Gabrielle Union, an American actor, travelled to Africa to learn more about the motherland. She visited Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, and Namibia and was well received in an experience that painted colourful memories for her.
American TV personality Steve Harvey advised Americans in the diaspora to put their prejudices about Africa aside and visit the continent. He made this known in a live podcast, sharing his experience of Africa and how he was received with love and acceptance.
Is Africa a continent full of corruption and war?
There are 54 countries in Africa, all of which are unique and with different political, economic and social development. Many people perceive Africa as a country, not knowing it is a continent. Moreover, most countries on the continent are peaceful with peace-loving people, who are keen to conduct their business without intimidation.
A problem in one section of African countries should not be applied to the totality of Africa as many may assume. The war in Ukraine and Russia does not mean that all European countries are not safe to live in or are at war. Also, a corrupt practice by one does not mean all Africans are corrupt.
Learn about Africa
People must endeavour to get to know Africa and Africans and do away with all stereotypical information about the continent. People must seek out true and accurate information, especially in the digital age where knowledge is available to all. A visit to Africa might be a step in the right direction and help spread well-informed knowledge about the continent.