African Myths, Busted

We’re all guilty of some stereotypes about Africa – I’ve never been there and I can assure you I have my own, mostly based on literature and my academic interests in development studies. That’s not the problem, but we should ask ourselves why. This powerful video confronts them spectacularly and challenges many of the most common ones.

I’m surprised so many ridiculous myths about what Africans live, work and play like are so powerful, and so monochromatic.

For a continent the size of the US, China, India, Japan, Eastern Europe, UK and eight other European countries combined, the fact that there are still only a handful of images of its life and people is outrageous.


I hope you enjoy this thought-provoking video and its message. It’s high time we started a proper series of conversations about why we are painting an entire continent with one stereotype (and let’s not shy away from the racism inherent in all of these assumptions) and thinking nothing of it.



  1. Clearly a mind opening video … and it emphatically states that the rest of the world has been lazy in getting to know Africa. Somewhat thin on the details, but that obviously is not the video’s purpose. How would you suggest we go about learning more about the real Africa?


    1. Absolutely. I think it serves as a good introduction to why an entire continent can’t be generalised.

      There are some really great news sources around, like New African (, This is Africa (, SABC ( and News from Africa (

      I also find Al Jazeera (, – and they also have a very good section on poverty, which is global in focus, NPR (, France 24 ( and the NYT ( often have very good reportage on the continent, since many of their journalists have either lived there or reported on Africa for decades and understand the different cultures well. NYT actually has different ‘Topic’ pages on each country, which you can see here:

      The Guardian has a very good section on Africa, though there is a risk of paternalism in their writing – it all depends on the journalist, so sometimes it’s a real miss and very patronising, while others are very strong writers who speak about many different topics, rather than just about how people are ‘helping themselves’.

      Having said that though, this is also a great blog:

      I also enjoy blogs from writers on the continent, though for some of these, the backing is either dubious – DHL sponsors a blog for example – or it’s clearly a front for a Western news organisation, to help them seem more ‘connected on the ground’. Here are some good ones though: (despite being connected to Western news groups, I like this one)

      And African news sites are also great, like this:

      There are also some incredible books on the topic, with Martin Meredith’s ‘The State of Africa’ a great starting point for understanding the history of the entire continent and how its countries are related. From there, I can recommend further books and journal articles to learn more about the academic side of different countries and regions of Africa.

      Enjoy! Are you sorry you asked?!


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