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BG24 Newscast
April 11, 2024

  • Jeanette Winterson for “gAyPRIL”
    “gAyPRIL” (Gay-April) continues on Falcon Radio, sharing a playlist curated by the Queer Trans Student Union, sharing songs celebrating the LGBTQ+ experience. In similar vein, you will enjoy Jeanette Winterson’s books if you find yourself interested in LGBTQ+ voices and nonlinear narratives. As “dead week” is upon us, students, we can utilize resources such as Falcon […]
  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
Spring Housing Guide

What Africa really is, and is not

To most people from the global north, Africa conjures shocking and frightening images. It is one big country, dark and primitive; ruled by a bunch of thugs and dictators masquerading as leaders.

They think that Africa is synonymous with rasping squalor and despondency.

Africa is also thought of as a far-away place, with systems that don’t work, illiteracy and backwardness. Such people think, “what the heck? That is where the new world used to get slaves anyway!”

Epithets like the dark continent, the forgotten continent, even a blemish in the “world conscience” are too often used in the place of Africa. The Economist, a London, U.K. publication titled a piece on Africa “The dark continent” only two weeks ago. Their justification, at night, from outer space, Africa is pitch dark.

Some even think that Africans share neighborhoods with lions, elephants and other wild animals, living like them, in caves or trees. In this Africa, there is virtually no infrastructure, whether for education, transport or telecommunication.

Right? Wrong. Very wrong.

First, Africa is not one big country. It is a continent. Made up of 53 countries. Africa is the world’s second largest continent and makes up about 22 percent of the world’s total land area. According to World Bank statistics in 2006, African countries have approximately 800 million people.

The continent is a veritable “United Nations” of sorts, aggregating an eclectic mix of cultures, languages, government systems, geography and economies.

Due to its imperial heritage, Africans have borrowed from many different cultures across the world. English, French, Portuguese and Arabic are some of the languages spoken in Africa.

With a long and troubled history, Africa is under-studied and given blanket coverage where specifics would be necessary.

The continent, particularly Egypt, in the north is reputed to be the world’s cradle of civilization (those pyramids and the pharaohs).

Evolutionary scientists believe that, east Africa, particularly, the dry strip of land in northern Kenya and bordering Ethiopia, is the cradle of mankind. This past month, the authoritative Nature magazine reported some profound research findings by the “Koobi Fora” research project in Kenya.

The findings call into question a long-held evolutionary fact that human evolution is a linear progression, from Homo habilis to Homo erectus and ourselves, Homo sapiens.

The watershed study shows that Homo habilis and Homo erectus lived at the same time.

South Africa (southern Africa) is the world’s HIV/AIDS capital, a country where you are more likely to get raped than greeted. The former is true, the latter utterly false. It would be nice to also know that it is Africa’s biggest economy, has vast diamond mines (the biggest diamond stone ever mined is from South Africa) and is home to one of Africa’s most eminent leaders, Nelson Mandela.

Liberia (west Africa) is known for its kleptomaniac dictators, it is good to also know that it was founded by freed African-American slaves in 1820 (Liberia means land of the free) and is the first African country to elect a woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2005.

Mention Sudan and a lot of people will envision Darfur (true, it is a tragedy, a theater of the absurd). Sudan though is also Africa’s biggest country and also one of the two sources of the river Nile, the world’s longest river. Nigeria? It is Africa’s most populous country.

Africa could be the world’s last frontier for natural resources, well, but for the cold and desolate Antarctica. Oil-rich countries include Nigeria, Angola, Libya and Sudan.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) has a lot of mineral wealth just like Sierra Leone, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and many others.

Africa, true, has a lot of wildlife and breathtaking beauty. The African elephant is the world’s largest living land animal, so big it has no natural predator. Its trunks, though enormous are so dexterous, it could read a book; turning each page!

From the smallest African country (Seychelles, an island, or the Gambia, the smallest mainland African country) to the largest (Sudan), Africa has a lot to offer.

Next time you visit an African country, strive to learn as much as you can about the particular country. When you come back, talk about the specific country – it is not a representative of the whole!

About Africa being benighted and blighted, that is for you to decide. Like the rest of the world, the continent endeavors each day to develop itself from a long history of economic and political development lags.

However, African countries have infrastructure, education institutions and other fun things, as can be found in many other places of the world.

Oh! And Africans do not live with wild animals; the animals have their own reserves, sanctuaries and parks.

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