• Danielle Spinks

Myths and Misconceptions About Africa that aren’t True

Updated: Jul 23, 2020


I hope you enjoyed our previous post on how to celebrate Easter at home during this isolation period. One of those things you can do post-Easter is read about different travel destinations. Africa is definitely a great one. It is a continent I’m in love with for its tourist attractions which exist in a large variety. However, there is a lot thought and said about the place that isn’t true. So during this isolation period, how about debunking them?

Here are some of the myths and misconceptions about Africa that aren’t true.

1. Africa is a country

It is common to hear foreigners refer to Africa as a country, as opposed to a continent, with individual countries. As a result, many who haven’t visited Africa end up thinking it’s just one big country. Newsflash! It’s not.

Africa is, in fact, the second-largest continent in the world with 54 countries completing it. Contrary to what many believe, every country in it has its distinct cultures and different people who speak a different language. So after the COVID-19 isolation, should you want to visit the continent, tell people where exactly you’re going. Is it Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, or any of the other 51 countries?

2. Wild animals walk on the streets alongside people

This is quite the funny one. Among the things Africa is known for is its wealth when it comes to wildlife. The Big Five especially. The belief that these dangerous wild animals freely roam is a myth about Africa that has dominated the world. However, it certainly isn’t true.

As you can imagine, just like human beings, wild animals like to stick to their own ideal environment, and the city streets or town streets are not part of that. Aside from a few monkeys and baboons, you will rarely see wild animals outside a park or game reserve. It would be exceptionally rare to find a lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, or leopard just hanging around the bus stop.

3. Africans are illiterate with no access to technology

This is another common misconception about Africa that couldn’t be further from the truth. When some people think of traveling to Africa, they imagine being in an environment that’s totally oblivious of advancements in technology and education. A place where the majority of people cannot speak international languages such as English, French, or even Chinese.

However, you will be pleasantly surprised when you visit the continent. Lots of people are literate. I have found it very easy to communicate with the folk I come across whenever I’m there. Many people also own mobile phones and other gadgets. They have access to the internet and just like you and I, can also post on their social media. There is access to wifi and 4G internet so no need to worry as a traveler.

4. It’s hot and dry all the time

People who travel a lot often have to check the weather in their given destination. That way they know what to pack and what to expect when they get there. However, a common myth about Africa is that it is hot and dry throughout. Are you planning on visiting Africa after the isolation period? Well, I might as well tell you that this myth is a lie.

While spring, summer, autumn, and winter are not experienced in most African countries, there is the hot and cold season as well as the dry and rainy season. While the cold months are not as cold as winters in countries across Europe, it can get cool especially during the mornings and evenings, and fire is occasionally necessary. As a tourist, always research before you travel to the continent just like you would if you were going elsewhere.

5. Africa is entirely poor

Unfortunately, the international media has, on too many occasions, portrayed the continent as a place of disaster, death, despair, and disease. This has led to many people thinking poverty characterizes the entire region. However, this is another misconception about Africa that I tell people not to believe.

I have been to several parts of the continent in my travel expeditions. I could tell you that there is still a lot to be done to raise the economic status of different places on the continent. No sugar coating that fact. However, not all people or nations in Africa are poor. The people are resourceful and have a wealth of creativity and a spirit of entrepreneurship. Just like in other continents, there are middle-class folk and those who can afford an extravagant lifestyle. It’s worth keeping this in mind when you find yourself on the continent in the future.

6. Africa has no infrastructure with nothing else to see except wildlife

You didn’t really think that infrastructure in Africa is nonexistent like most people do, did you?

That Africa is a desert, all people live in grass-thatched mud houses or that it is all savannah are things I’ve heard people say all too often. The biggest myth about the continent, however, is that there is nothing else to see except wildlife. The truth is the continent has made a lot of advancements as far as infrastructure is concerned. Should you visit you will find well-developed roads, beautiful luxury hotels, well-built stone and brick houses with running water and electricity. The climate is also not homogenous. It’s different depending on the place.

There’s also more to see than just the wildlife. I’ve enjoyed the vibrant nightlife in the cities, the beautiful sandy beaches, heritage sites, the mountains, rivers, falls, lakes, and rich cuisines that I have been fortunate enough to try. There also exists a lot of business opportunities for the business traveler.

There you go, five myths and misconceptions about Africa that aren’t true - just in case they were standing in the way of future plans to visit the continent! In case of any questions, just send me a message.


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