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7 Common Misconceptions About Africa

7 Common Misconceptions About Africa

Have you ever questioned what you know about Africa?  Chances are, you buy into at least one stereotype of this hauntingly beautiful but misunderstood continent.

1. We all live in huts

Johannesburg_Sunrise,_City_of_Gold by dylan harbour 2008

    This is a variation of the question that gets asked more often than you think. People who have never visited our decidedly un-mud-hutted cities frequently ask this.  Fueled by a visual diet of the rolling plains of the Savannah, it can become hard to believe that this massive continent is home to some of the world’s fastest growing cities. Granted, in rural districts mud huts are a common form of housing, but rapid economic growth has led to migration towards thronging urban cities. Yes, that means cities, with brick houses, electricity, internet and running water.

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     2. ‘African’ is a language all on ts own

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      “Do you speak American?” is usually the good-humored retort to the question of whether or not I “speak African.”. Sure, there are plenty of languages that spill over national boundaries, but African is just not one of the approximately 2,000 languages spoken. Colonisation of the continent has led to the adoption of English, French, German and Portuguese as well.

      3. Everyone owns a pet antelope/lion/insert Savannah-dwelling animal

      The carefully cultivated perception of Africa as a safari haven has irreparable implications on common sense. Your average Mulenga will answer, “ Yes, I have a pet lion, I ride it to the office everyday, except when I don’t get parking – then I take the gazelle…”  Sure, you may find a stray chicken and some cattle wandering around in villages on the outskirts of the cities, but our city centers are big game free. Any animal that you would not be inclined to pet is found in a controlled game area. If you do happen to find yourself face to face with a lion though, here’s what you should do.

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      4. Africa is lacking in advanced technology


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        According to CNN, Africa “has become the world’s second most connected region by mobile subscriptions.” The continent has seen sky rocketing rates in the number of mobile phone owners, as there are more than 754 million connections in Africa. And Tunisia has 10.8 million more phone subscriptions than people. It is true that internet access is somewhat limited to urban and industrial aggregations, but as of 2015, a total of 297 million people have access. That number is growing thanks to initiatives such as Facebook’s to increase access to 5 billion more people.

        Renewable energy is also a focus for a lot of Africa countries. Hydroelectric power and solar panels are used as alternative solutions to energy problems. Egypt, Ghana, Madagascar, and South Africa have aimed to obtain 20%, 10%, 75%, and 13% of their electricity by 2020 through renewable sources.

        5. Everyone’s nationality is African

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          Africa is a continent. There are 54 countries spread across this vast land mass. There can be significant cultural differences between countries that result in a multitude of different beliefs, practices and lifestyles. A well known example is South Africa, dubbed the “ rainbow nation.” It is a melting pot of different ethnicities that shows just how diverse one country can be, to say nothing of the whole continent.

          6. You must be darker-skinned to be African

          This is usually announced with the air of one gifted with extraordinary powers of perception. This stereotype is just not true. There is a shocking array of diversity interspersed all over the continent. Every skin pigment known to man is present. Immigrants from other continents arrived generations ago and their descendants have settled in Africa ever since.

          7. Africa is always at war and plagued by poverty

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            Contrary to popular belief, not all African countries have descended into political and economic turmoil. Zambia, for example, is a shining example of a country that has maintained peace and has seen a peaceful handover of power from each of the country’s six presidents since its independence in 1964. It has 70+ different ethnic groups and has never had any civil war or serious tumult.

            Corruption is not rampant all over the continent either. Botswana is number 31 on the Corruption Perception Index, indicating that corruption is minimal. Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana are economic powerhouses that have registered increasing growth in recent years as well as a rising middle class.

            Featured photo credit: Dylan Harbour via commons.wikimedia.org

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            Last Updated on September 12, 2019

            12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

            12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

            Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they feel lost in life and isolated from everyone else.

            While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:

            What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?

            Here are 12 things to remember:

            1. Recognize That It’s Okay!

            The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.

            However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.

            We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.

            Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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            2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide

            You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

            Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.

            Remember, there is more to life than what you’re feeling.

            3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth

            Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.

            Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!

            4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think

            Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.

            No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react.

            5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer

            Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.

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            Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that  you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.

            6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now

            Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.

            Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.

            Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable

            7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best

            Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.

            Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.

            And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.

            8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious

            When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.

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            Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.

            9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason

            Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.

            Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.

            Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.

            10. Journal During This Time

            Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.

            This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.

            11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way

            It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.

            The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!

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            Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

            12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists

            The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.

            Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.

            When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.

            Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

            Final Thoughts

            Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.

            Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.

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            Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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