They say ” there’s no such thing as a stupid question”… but I refuse! Stupid questions exist. I’m not saying that people should have knowledge on every topic on earth because that’s impossible. But surely, I think there’s a degree of awareness that everybody should have. I know for a fact that if someone told me they were from the UK, I wouldn’t jump and say ; “Oh wow! do you speak United Kingdom?”. Why? Because that’s a stupid question. Why stupid? Because you cant speak a place!!
So can someone please explain to me how in 2016, people still ask me; “Oh wow! Do you speak African?!”. How?!
I think its funny how Africa is the second biggest continent on earth, yet, people continue to remain ignorant on it! Its something that not only irritates me, but It’s also something my mind has never been able to understand. Okay yes, the media plays a huge part in it by solely exposing people in the western world to the flaws and problems in Africa. And yes I know that sometimes the media portrays africa in a very very VERY misleading manner. However, in 2016, i feel like blaming ignorance on the media is inadequate.
With all this technology, we all have the power to read on whatever we want! For example, If I wanted to learn about China, by the end of today, I guarantee you I could know the country and its history back to front. I could even go as far as google maps and pretend to be walking in the streets of China!! . So why is it that when the media broadcasts starvation in Africa, majority of viewers think that the ENTIRETY of Africa has starving people? Why is it that when FOUR countries in Africa have cases of Ebola, people think that the ENTIRETY of Africa has Ebola and is covered in sickness?
I will never understand. I could go on and on about this.. however, that is for another day.
Today, I wanted to talk about the 8 dumbest questions I have ever been asked on Africa. Why eight? Because If i were to list all of them, not only would this post go on for years, but I think I would drown in all the stupidity and ignorance. I’m sure several Africans have encountered similar ignorant questions on the continent, and therefore will be able to relate. I feel like this is going to be a sarcastic rant and I apologize in advance haha! But by the end of this, I hope there will be less ignorance on my beautiful continent. Here we go!
First and foremost… let me give you your fact of the day…
Wait for it…
AFRICA IS A CONTINENT NOT A COUNTRY!!!
Mindblown? yeah same .
“Do You speak African?”
I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked this question but it never gets old! To be honest I don’t even understand this question because I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of a language called “African” in my life! And yes I know, African may sound like a language to come of you… but its not!
There are 1500-2000 languages in Africa,so which one are you talking about?
2. “Do You eat grass?”
Yeeeeesss!!! Grass Is my favorite food!! I Eat it everyday!! How did you know??
This is such a dumb question but believe it or not, people have asked me this! So heres my question: Who do you think we are? Cows?
For those of you who thought Africans eat grass and enjoy “grass soup” let me tell you a story. Humans cant digest grass! ( and yes, Africans are also humans in case you didn’t know). Unlike cows, human stomachs do not enable digestion of grass as we do not have specialized stomach chambers.
Yes, anyone can go outside and eat grass. However, not only can the human stomach not digest it but a “grass diet” would cause your teeth would wear out. Yes,I’m very aware that Africans are so amazing and almost magical! However, we eat FOOD just like everyone else. (Very good food too if I may add)!
Hold up, before you ask: “do you have KFC in Africa?”… yes we do! We’ve got McDonalds, KFC, SUbway, Starbucks, Dominoes, Cold Stone etc. Shock on you!
Oh, African food is pretty good to!
3. “Do you have lions as pets and ride elephants to school?”
Yep, I have a 20 lions in my back yard (trained to kill dumb people like you), and in my city we use elephants instead of cars or Taxi’s/Uber. Oh I forgot, our city is in the jungle so please carry a spear if you visit just incase you are attacked. It would also be useful for you to learn how to swimg from vines like Tarzan befoe you get here because thats how we get around.
You know… I was actually going to excuse this question. Why? Because most people in the western world have only seen wild animals in zoos and not in the wild so they may think that wild animals are tame. But I take that back. Why? Because there is something called TV (national geographic/animal planet) and the internet… and common sense really!
Are you really that stupid that you think I can walk past a pride of WILD lions several times everyday and still be alive? Do you also think that I have 11ft pet elephants in my backyard that I can navigate it ON THE STREETS and instruct to pick me up from school at 3:30? Wait before we even go there… Do you really think that its possible to get in close proximity of a wild animal and still be alive?
Because that’s how you pictured Africa then you have left me speechless. Africa isn’t like the jungle book or Tarzan my guys. Transportation here, is exactly like the transport you have in the west.
Yes, we have cars (very good cars actually)!
Yes we have trains.
Yes we have buses!
Yes we have tarmacked roads!
No we DO NOT have lions or elephants in our back yards.
I’m not sure where this mentality of Africans having no cars came from… But I’m telling you right now that the typical African owns a car/cars that match or even top those in the western world. So the next time I hear a question like that , I will stop the earth and frantically search for an exit.
4. ” Do You Live in a mud hut?”
If the image above and the ones below are what you consider Mud Huts… Then yes I live in a mud hut and so does everybody I know!
Living in Nairobi looks like this:
Now, this not to say that people in Africa do not live in mudhuts, as this misconception does hold some truth. Most traditional African houses are mudhuts of some kind. ANd yes, some people still chose to live this way, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. HOWEVER, if in your mind, you picture Africa as a savannah peppered with tiny little mudhuts everywhere….. then you have left me speechless again, and I want you to google “African Cities” and tell me what you see.
Have you come across you come across beautiful landscapes, spoiling skyscrapers and concrete covered metropolises? Perfect.
To answer this question, yes some Africans live in traditional housing, BUT even more live in beautiful modern housing!
5. “Wait…How comes you speak such good English?”
Damn I don’t know.. How do you? Oh wait! We probably learnt it in the same way!
I’m not sure when and how people started linking Africans with unintelligence and illiteracy. I mean yes, there are innumerate and illiterate people in Africa.. BUT THEY EXIST EVERYWHERE!! No place is perfect! In fact, I’m quite sure that most Africans can speak better English the English themselves! (Shock on you)
So that assumption needs to stop. Thinking about it now, its actually quite shameful that I can speak English better than my mother tongue… Anyways this link between illiteracy and afrcans needs to be extinguished.. RIGHT NOW!
6. “What is Africa Like?”
Hmmm.. this one is a tricky one. This is probably the most common question I’ve been asked and I never know how to answer it.
Are you asking about the weather? The people? The animals? The lifestyle? Kenya in particular? I need clarification pls.
Properly explaining Kenya alone in a few words is a task I cant even do and I live here! Now you’re asking me to find a way to summarize 54 different countries that are all quite different ? You must be joking.
I will explain to you what Africa is like when you can explain to me what Europe is like (all 50 countries). Thanks.
7. “Are you Hungry?”
let me think…
No offense, but you are next level ignorant!
Okay wait a minute…
I know that hunger is a big problem in Africa.There is widespread hunger in several places. I know that. I also know that poverty and corruption is a problem, not only in Kenya, but in Africa as a whole.
But for you immediately associate EVERY African with hunger and starvation is not okay. I know that when you google “African people”, starvation and “poor” pop up immediately. Its sad, but that’s exactly what happens and hunger is something that all african countries are working hard to reduce.
However, I think that there is a problem when you think its accurate to generalise this to every african on earth.
Not Every African is poor.
Not every African is Hungry.
In a perfect world, every one would have shelter and food on the table. But we do not live in a perfect world. Starvation is a problem everywhere.
And to you over there in the corner thinking “starvation isnt in my country!” … it is.
Starvation and poverty is everywhere.. more in some places than others, but it is still a worldwide issue.
Africans eat! Africans eat soooo well !! So when youre sitting before your TV and Africa is portrayed to you with starving children and poverty… please take everything with a pinch of salt.
Ask Yourself … If EVERY African was truly starving / hungry.. how is it possible that Africans dominate the athletic scene?
If ALL Africans were truly hungry.. how is the all time rugby sevens trier an African (Collins Injera- Kenya)?
But most importantly, If there was really no food on Afria…. don’t you think we’d all be dead by now? After all, you can only last 3 weeks without food….
A wise man once said:
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”. – Martin Luther King
At the end of the day, nobody looks dumber than an ignorant person. Please dont be that person asking such ignorant questions. Open your mind. Be willing to learn about the different cultures around you. Look past sterotypes, and Research what you don’t know.
One thing I can guarantee you this: Africa is not how it is presented on the media. It is very far from that! It is full of beautiful people, wonderful scenery and amazing food.
Most importantly, be wise enough to not believe everything you see.
I will leave it at that & I hope you enjoyed reading this! Most importantly, I hope this post left you a little more aware of the real Africa. The Africa that I know and have fallen in love with.
Thanks for reading as always xx – EMMA