A Dummies guide to Africa…for our friends from the West

I received an email from an old friend of mine the other day. She’s from a small town in Boston, in the USA and she’s “coming to Africa” for a safari holiday. Seeing as we haven’t seen each other in years, she figured it’d be a good idea if we met up for a coffee. Her email read something like this:

“….I’ll be in Africa for about 10 days. It would be great to see you. Are you still in Johannesburg? Maybe we can do lunch?…”

I was happy to hear from her and thought of course, I can always make time for an old friend. So I responded to her asking where exactly in Africa she’d be and when. I was shocked…no, let me not say shocked…I was amused when she said she’d be in Mombasa (which is in Kenya) & and also Dar es Salaam (which is in Tanzania). So I respond with the following:

“…I’m afraid I won’t be able to do lunch with you on account of the fact that Mombasa is FOUR THOUSAND KILOMETRES from Johannesburg…” (She probably had to Google the relationship between a ‘mile’ and a ‘kilometre’ but anyway…)

We laughed off her oversight (read: ignorance) but I figured I might as well share a few insights into Africa for those who may be in the same boat as my safari friend from Boston.

1. Africa is the 2nd most populous continent on earth. So when you meet an African abroad, don’t ask us if we know some other African you’ve met before. “Do U know Ogba from Ghana?”…”No, I’m from Zimbabwe. I’ve never been to Ghana and even if I had, there’s like 27 million people there.”

2. Contrary to popular belief, we also learnt of the Lion King from TV, stage, and literature…not from personal experience.

3. This one time someone in the US noticed they were trending on Twitter in some African countries and they tweeted “Wow, I’m trending in Africa. Didn’t even know they had internet over there”…..We do.

4. About 2,500 people out of 1.111 billion of us are currently suffering from Ebola. That’s like 0.00023% of the African population. For those fans of Rihanna who were begging her “not to perform in Africa or she’ll catch Ebola”, you need to chill…and I think there’s a pill for that.

5. Africa is the world’s 2nd largest continent geographically. So for those celebrities (and common people) who like to say “Going to Africa”….WHERE IN AFRICA? WE HAVE 54 COUNTRIES.

6. And that “your English (French/Portuguese/Spanish) is quite good” malarkey needs to stop. We know it is. Most of us speak 3 languages.

7. Whilst on the subject of languages, don’t ask me to teach you “African”. WTF kind of language is “African?” That’s like asking a Chinese person to teach you how to speak “Asian”.

8. If we happen to be visiting your countries on holiday (yes, we take holidays too), please don’t ask how we got there. We didn’t swim across the India/Atlantic oceans, if that’s what you’re asking.

9. No, I never met Nelson Mandela.

10. We have planes, trains, automobiles, houses, hospitals, universities, industries, gadgets, politics, taxes, financial institutions, cops & robbers (sometimes the same thing), celebs, twelebs, winners, losers, saints, sinners, lovers, haters, and everything in between.

Basically, our continent is just like yours…the only difference is, we have a few more black people…which is the coolest part about it.

*just scribbling my African thoughts*

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6 comments on “A Dummies guide to Africa…for our friends from the West

  1. cpnp says:

    LOL! 😀


  2. Whitney says:

    Loved this article!


  3. LMAO!! As usual 🙂


  4. Hi, My name is Dov. I had to laugh at your remarks about what people think about “Africa”. I have the same problem and I get this king of ignorance from my own people. I am an American and I am from Hawaii. People on the continental United States have to be told that “we do not live in grass huts and eat pineapple all day and then play the Ukelele. We have the same kind of daily lives that anyone has in the western world. We have public schools, courts, freeway, taxes, divorce, violence, Food Stamps and every other thing that an American city has”. I used to work at a switchboard at a hotel in Waikiki. People would call the hotel and stammer that they didn’t know Hawaiian so they didn’t know if I could help them. Only about 1% (at the most) of the people speak Hawaiian and nearly everyone speaks English; like the rest of the United States. In Hawaii people know far more about British history than they do Hawaiian history. It’s a tragedy.


    • ImTawanda says:

      Wow. Thanks for sharing Dov. I’m surprised you guys also go through such. I just assumed Hawaii was like every other US state.

      It’s the media who perpetuate these ignorant stereotypes. The same way they always show Africans starving on the news or in movies is the same way they depicts Hawaiians chilling with pineapples and ukuleles. Tragic indeed.


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