The continent of Africa tends tohave a negative image to many people in the Western World of Europe andAmerica.
In fact, many people of the Western World, including myself, actuallyknow very little about Africa. This occurs as a result of numerous myths andstereotypes which are a direct result of our education systems and media.However, after reading Susan Williams’ (2009) article “Ways of Seeing Africa”,the reader learns that the continent of Africa isn’t actually what the mediaand education systems portray. Throughout the article “Ways of Seeing Africa”,Williams’ main argument is that these myths and stereotypes are indeed false. Susan Williams (2009) discussesseveral stereotypes and myths throughout her article “Ways of Seeing Africa”.Williams (2009) mentions that the most common stereotype of Africa is thebelief of failure. However, many African nations have accomplished a greatachievement in avoiding, “morally wrong colonization and white, racist minorityrule” (p.8).
Another scenario which proves the stereotype of African failure tobe false results from the African country Botswana. Williams (2009) goes on towrite that Botswana’s success, “is not on the itineraries of these writers asthey travel through the continent” (p.11). Williams (2009) goes on to explainthat Botswana, once labeled as one of the top ten poorest countries in theworld, transformed to having the fastest economic growth in the world aftergaining independence from Britain in 1966. Another stereotype mention in the article isthe belief that people in Africa do not have access to technology. According toSayan Chakraborty (2008), “only one in seven hundred people in Africa hadaccess to the internet at that date, as compared to one in four people inEurope” (p.11).
However, between 2000 and 2008, the number of internet users inAfrica rose from 3 million to 32 million users (p.12). Statistics like theseare often unheard of due to the fact that the Western media and educationsystems only portray that Africa is poor and prone to disasters. The best way to extinguish thesenegative beliefs of Africa is to simply seek out authentic information by ourselves.Instead of being manipulated by the media and our education systems, people ofthe Western World must research and find accurate and relevant informationregarding the continent of Africa. Another form of achieving accurateinformation would be to get together with someone who has actually hadfirst-hand experience of Africa from living there and or visiting. Thesemethods of obtaining accurate information will surely change one’s perspectiveof this entire continent! As a budding scholar, I am challenging myself toanswer any questions I may have on Africa through a use of accurate, non-biasedinformation. After reading Susan Williams (2009)article “Ways of seeing Africa”, I decided to do some research in order to learnsome accurate information about this continent which I knew little about.
Afterresearching Africa at a Glance: Facts andFigures (Van As, 2005), an interesting fact that I learned was that Africamakes up 22 percent of the total world area (p.16). Of that percentage of totalworld area, Africa was divided into 54 independent countries at the time of thebooks release (2005) (p.
3). In regards to communication among African people, Ilearned that most African countries use either Arabic, English, or French asofficial languages (p.11). As for population, I learned that Africa made uproughly 14 percent of the world’s population as of 2006 (p.18). Since I learnedhow large the population of Africa was, I was curious of which city had thelargest population. After some further research, I learned that as of 2010, themost populated city in Africa was the Nile Delta, composed of over 30 millionpeople (p.
27)! In conclusion, Susan Williams'(2009) article “Ways of seeing Africa” changed my whole perspective on theentire continent of Africa. Before reading this article, my opinions and mentalimage of Africa were that of any other Western World person. However, thisarticle made me realize that not everything that our media and educationsystems portray is necessarily true. Instead, I now believe that the media andeducation systems mainly focus on the negative aspects of places like Africa,and choose not to show the good aspects. As a budding scholar, I havechallenged myself to keep an open-mind in the future, in order to obtain the mostaccurate and un-biased information that I possibly can. ReferencesChakraborty, S. (2008) ‘Mobile Phones Bridging theInformation Divide.
Issues and lessons from Africa’, JOMC 233:Van As, E. (2012). Africa at a Glance : Facts andFigures. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa.Williams, S.
(2009). Ways of Seeing Africa. Africa:Journal of the International African Institute, Vii-Xiv.