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16 Stereotypes Every African Hates

Africans are uneducated, speak African, living in mud houses, lions and monkeys everywhere, Africa is one country, it’s not safe to travel there – you’ve heard it all. But is there any truth in these African stereotypes? It is pretty hard to paint a continent with 54 independent countries, each with its own languages, cultures, and histories, with one brush. It robs the people of their individuality, oftentimes it can also lead to discrimination and racism. Do you have any strange misconceptions about Africans and the continent that is home to over a billion people? Read more to debunk commonly held stereotypes and misconceptions that every African hates.

Africa is one country

“Africa is one country, right?” Don’t say that to an African. Period. It stings ignorance to mistake 54 independent countries with unique histories and cultures as one state. That’s like thinking Asia is a single nation. No one likes cultural ignorance!

Africans speak African

The myth of Africans speaking African, it simply isn’t true. African as a language is not a language. Simple. Africans also don’t have a central language, that is simply because no one African language exist. English and French are the continent’s main languages, however, its thousands of distinct languages spoken throughout Africa.

Lions and monkeys run around everywhere

Africa is known for its abundance of wildlife; the continent is a prime destination for safaris, which plays an important role in tourism (especially the Big Five game). You could spend a lifetime expecting to find a lions, tigers and monkeys roaming the city streets, or see a local riding an elephant to work, it simply won’t happen. Forget it. These wild animals don’t co-exist within the commonplace and they are not domestic animals. The majority of Africans stick to the traditional cats and dogs when choosing an animal companion. Just like many citizens of African countries, if you want to see wild animals, your best bet is to visit one of the many nature and game reserves in various African countries.

Africans are uneducated people

The notion of Africans being uneducated is consistent with the general stereotype that the continent is widely traditional, remote, and uncivilized. Many Africans go as far as Europe or the United States to acquire higher-quality education, most of whom are sometimes not content with just bachelor’s degree, so they add Masters and oftentimes a Ph.D. Africans might have thousands of languages which isn’t spoken elsewhere, but the population is also very well educated. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, one of the most translated books in the world was written by an African (Nigerian), the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations was an African, late Kofi Annan (Ghanaian). Also, stats show that More than 75% of black doctors in USA are Nigerians, and 29% of Nigerian-Americans have graduate degrees (compared to 11% of the overall American population).

Africans live in mud houses

Most Beautiful Skylines in Africa
Corniche waterfront in Alexandria, Egypt. © David Evers/Wikimedia Commons

While there’s a misconceived notion that Africans live in jungle and mud houses in the middle of nowhere with no knowledge of the outside world, the stats show otherwise. In 2017, there were over 62.8 million international tourist arrivals to Africa. Many parts of the continent are now well developed, several big cities dense with shopping mallshotels, high-rise building with vibrant skylines, and other modern facilities. And even the inner cities smaller towns have electricity and internet connection. Africans make up a large part of global netizens, proving that many of the citizens are tech-savvy with ample technology.

Africans are lazy

Africa is not synonymous with laziness; Africans have showcased their talent in various fields. To name a few current popular personalities from Africa – Aliko Dangote (Business), Mohamed Salah (Football), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Author), Elon Musk (Automotive), Wizkid (Music), Masai Ujiri (Sports) and Trevor Noah (Comedy). In short, the talent pool in the African continent is vast and diverse.

You don’t sound African

All the different cultures and plethora of languages in Africa makes it such an interesting continent. Hence, it’s only logical then that English and French accents comes in countless varieties. A local’s first tongue more often than not comes to the foreground when speaking a foreign tongue as a second language. To the untrained ear, they sound African, but that is the same way an English-speaking native sound when speaking African language as a second tongue.

It’s not safe to travel there

Busiest Airports in Africa
Airplane landing at the O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa | © O.R. Tambo International Airport

Every African really hate it when people tell them that they would love to visit any part of the beautiful continent, but they would be scared to get kidnapped or murdered because it’s so dangerous. A horror image the media often push into a narrow context that shuts out the broader reality. Whereas, many more tourists and safari-goers are satisfied with the friendliness and hospitality of the locals. While issues with crime cannot be ignored anywhere in the world, just as when visiting any foreign country, it’s always important to take safety precautions. But not visiting out of fear of crime is simply inexcusable, because muggings happens in cities like London and New York.

African women are hopelessly domesticated

The cliché of African women being spineless homemakers that do nothing but just cook couldn’t be any further from the truth.

In fact, African women are extremely independent. To name a few current powerful and influential African women:

  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia: First female president of Liberia and Nobel Peace laureate 
  • Shale-Work Zewde, Ethiopia: President of Ethiopia 
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria: sits on the Boards of Standard Chartered BankTwitter, and Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) 
  • Angélique Kidjo, Benin: Four-time Grammy award winner and humanitarian 
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigeria: Author and public speaker 
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, South Africa: Executive Director, UN Women 
  • Fatou Bedsouda, Gambia: Prosecutor, International Criminal Court 
  • Fatma Samoura, Senegal: Secretary-General, FIFA 
  • Amina J. Mohammed, Nigeria: Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations,  
  • Folorunso Alakija, Nigeria: Executive vice-chair, FAMFA Oil 

Everyone is corrupt

All of Africa is corrupt and every African take bribe, this is a favourite media African stereotype to cash in on, but it’s far from reality. Money cannot solve everything; some tourists have made the mistake of thinking like that. It’s better to follow the law and official procedures to solve problems, as you may get into even more trouble for trying to bribe an official in different states of the continent.

Africa is one big desert

sahara camel trekking
Came trekking in Sahara Desert | © Giulia Eleonora Lo Basso/Flickr

With a total land area of 3.5 million square miles, the Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world, doesn’t mean that the continent is a patch of scorched red barren land. More than 95 per cent of the population live built up cities, urban and rural areas.

Scammers and fraudsters

The stereotype that all Africans are scammers and fraudsters is not only false, it is also harmful, because every country has its underbelly of criminals. That is just like saying Switzerland is nothing but just a getaway for many international criminals. Sadly, these things do happen, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t citizens of African countries who are law abiding. So, it is straight up unfair: saying that all scams are set up by Africans is an insult to a population of the beautiful people of Africa.

It never gets cold in Africa

That all of the African continent is always hot is somewhat untrue. North African countries and South Africa are notorious for its wet winters which are like regular winter seasons anywhere else. The continent boasts some of the best climate and beaches in the world, but it’s not always sunny in all the countries. When planning your holiday in Africa, always check weather reports for your destinations and pack accordingly.

Afrobeats is the only music

Afrobeats is shaking up the global music scene, representing the continent unlike any other genre. While many Africans may know a few afrobeats giants like Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Davido, and Burna Boy, not everyone listens to afrobeats; nor is it the music that every African country gets down to at parties. It’s another one of those African stereotypes that ignores the diversity of the continent and its cultures. Afrobeats is popular, but what about bongo flavandombolo, soukous, fuji music, Coupé-décalé, kwaito, highlife, and the hundreds of diverse musical genres that come from Africa?

That they know every African you have met

The Western world often mistake Africa for a single country, so they believe that an African in a foreign country knows the next African. Which is utterly stupid, because the non-Africans with those lines of questions don’t even know 0.5 per cent of their country’s population. Next time before you ask an African if they know so-and-so, because he/she is from African, please remember that Africa is a continent with 54 independent countries with well over a billion population. Use common sense, thank you.

Africans practice radical Islam

different religions in africa
Africa religions map | © T L Miles/Wikimedia Commons

First of all, it should be noted that various African countries are secular states by law—they are not all Muslim countries. Religion may have its influences, it’s also important to remember that different states officially acknowledges other religions, including African Traditional Religion, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, etc.


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