04 November 2009

53 countries in Africa... why can't you specify which you refer to

I found an article yesterday titled "Giant Crack in Africa Will Create a New Ocean".

I don't believe I have ever read about any event/activity in any parts of Europe where they generalize the whole continent. Or Asia. Or even South America. Even when people go to Antarctica they use the different coordinates to designate which part of that ice island they are occupying.

There are 53 countries in Africa.

Is it that hard to say that the crack is in Ethiopia?

The mainland US could fit inside the continent about four times. The continent is about 30.2 million square km (11.7 millioin square miles). The entire United States is 9.83 million square kilometers (3.79 million square miles) so including Alaska and Hawaii could fit in the continent three times.

Even the countries that look small on the distorted maps that people typically use are larger than several states that are here in the US.

I have had people in my parents' church go to numerous places in the world to proselytize and each time before they go, they stand in front of the church and tell the specific cities and the countries where they will be going.

Except when they go to the Motherland.

Then they are just going to Africa.

No nations specified.

Just Africa.

This is why I introduced an African Studies class at my last school and why I am in the process of trying to get one started at my current school.

There is more than just the opportunity for a safari. There are people there who do not have AIDS. There are places where food is plentiful. There are places where the people are dark in skin tone and places where people are Mediterranean looking. There are places where people live in homes larger than anything I have encountered here in the States. There are people who are very well educated. There are not lions everywhere, nor are there monkeys on every corner balancing on elephants. There are people with fancier cell phones than I have seen here.

I almost understand Europeans old-school ignorance when they thought it was a "dark continent" because they had not explored it, but times have changed. People have seen the vast wonders of the land. We are no longer in the age of Livingstone.

Africa is a continent. Not a country.


  1. Most people are so woefully uninformed about the world's geography that if you specified a country in Africa, they probably wouldn't know where it was!

  2. That is true, but when people name nations in most areas of the Middle East, or islands in South East Asia, or even countries in South America, many are not sure where those are either... but they still name specific country names.

  3. It's really annoying out here. In America at least it's mostly ignorance. In Europe, it's condescension.

  4. All the thoughts show that people really don't care to know and understand the vastness of the continent.

    Annoying. Hurtful. Ridiculous.

    And it perpetuates a lot of the feelings people have about the continent economically, politically, and socially.


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