Whenever I try to encourage people to visit Africa, most of them look at me like I’m crazy, and I kind of understand. The mainstream media has created a negative image of the continent, which makes people not even think about going there.
After talking to people from the continent and visiting South Africa, I realized that there are a lot of things about the continent that are either completely untrue or highly exaggerated. There is so much more to Africa than a lot of people think, and a visit will make them realize that.
Here is a list of some of the misconceptions that people have about Africa.
- Everybody is poor
While there are people in extreme poverty, just like anywhere else in the world, there are people who are doing really well financially. In Cape Town, there are live in mansions near Table Mountain that are worth over $1 million. The level of poverty, however, is unlike something I’ve ever seen and there are a lot of people living in huts, but that does not represent all of Africa.
- Everybody has diseases
As long as I can remember, Africa has been associated with many diseases. People think that going to Africa means that you’re going to come back home with AIDS. There are certain countries in Africa where you have to get certain shots before you get there, but as long as you take the proper precautions, you’ll be okay.
- There are wild animals roaming the streets
A lot of people think that if they go to Africa, they’re going to see a lion or an elephant walk right next to them. Most of those exotic animals are in captivity, so you’ll only see them if you go on a safari. In other words, a tiger is not going to walk into your hotel room, unless you steal one from Mike Tyson.
- It’s dangerous
It doesn’t matter what state, country or city you go to, there are going to be areas that are more dangerous than others. Movies like Blood Diamond and Captain Phillips have made a lot of people think that all Africans are murderers and criminals, and that’s not true. When I go out in my hometown, there are certain places that I won’t go to because of the crime. So, just find out where not to go in Africa and you’ll be safe.
- Africans don’t like African Americans
I’ll admit, I was guilty of believing this. When I was planning my trip to South Africa, I was talking to a friend from Ghana and he kept reassuring me that the people would treat me great out there, and he was right. Those are some of the most welcoming people that I’ve ever met. They were quick to strike up a conversation and share the history of their country. By talking to them, I learned that they want more African Americans to visit.