Africa & Image





For many westerners and the Americans, the word, Africa, denotes images of strangely dressed tribesmen, impenetrable jungles, ferocious animals and safaris. In spite of the occasional highlights, in the press, on civil wars, genocides and other wrong happenings, most of the world is unaware of what constitutes the continent. Curtis Keim intended his book for the American audience who bear robust images of Africa in American advertising, cartoons, movies, and many other aspects of the society (Keim 4). However, this book applies to a larger Western audience who hold prominent misconceptions about Africa.

Africa is a place of poignant stories and great contrasts. This is a continent that the American imagination simultaneously strongly idealizes and vilifies. To being with, Americans’ perceptions of this continent are popularized by media-driven representations of a degraded Hobbesian existence. Intractable patterns of corruption, violence, famine have replaced the former images of a poignant society that was relishing in post-colonial independence. Neo-Malthusians propose that uncontrolled rapid environmental degradation, increasing resource scarcity, and population growth place Africa in this miserable scenario. On the other end, Americans imagination of Africa as a land of exotic animals, picturesque vegetation, and idyllic beauty is informed by the replication of Disney-inspired images and the big game safari stories. This expresses a dissonance between extreme stereotypes which informs a significant ignorance and collective misinformation of a large and diverse audience. Interestingly, Africa occurs in a significant part of the American subconscious, in spite of the idea that the knowledge about the continent does not exist in comprehensive form.

It is arguable that the continent has a beauty and diversity that is not known to the American continent. To begin with, in general terms, America is a hypocritical land that holds positive words, such as kinship and homeland, but maintains ignorance about the land of which such words are really instrumental. This is an overwhelming impression that builds on few notions of wild animals and primitivity. This is a factor that emanates from a consistent American language about limited notions on Africa. An investigation by an American museum, on common perceptions about the African continent, uncovered largely held misconceptions. These messages intertwine with American culture and perpetuate strong impressions. These impressions possess deep impressions that affect every other American. It is, thus, difficult to hold oneself free from such misconceptions.

This large conception largely plays out in the perspective of viewing Africans as inferior. Interestingly, once Africans integrate within Western societies, they suffer from this conception as other individuals look down upon them. During a momentous part of the Western and American history, it is discernible that exploitation and racism have become largely acceptable within the large part of the population. Although the present population never ruled Africa, it is crucial to highlight that the ancestors maintained slavery, segregation, and exploitation on Africans. This is an idea and information that entrenches in the world’s history as certain populations faced constraints in their advancements. The missionaries and colonialists largely profited from exploitation on Africa in terms of trade, wars, and resources’ acquisition. In the end, the practices of exploitation required that Africans be perceived as inferior individuals. This is a philosophy that the Western community thrived on to gain advantage of Africa’s numerous and diverse resources.

It is critical to highlight that development and advancement of Western world was largely dependent on Africa. This is a vital proposition that reacts to the perception of the colonizers and the larger Western society as the entities that brought advancement to the African population. In spite of the idea that the Western society brought some forms of technology and western civilization to the African continent, they hugely benefitted from Africa’s resources. The first type of African resource that the Western society exploited was the people. In the abominable slave trade that occurred for centuries, the colonizers traded Africans as commodities. This trade, in itself, influenced considerable amounts of revenue for the traders who thrived on high prices that slaves fetched.

The slaves were critical in the agricultural and industrial development of the American and western society. This is because the slaves were employable in huge plantations and farms as laborers. The slaves would perform arduous tasks and mechanical work that constrained their energy and development. In addition, African slaves were employable in dangerous factories and utilization of risky machinery that were critical in the industrial development of the American and larger Western society.

In addition, the African continent provided minerals, lands, and scenery. The Europeans discovered Africa in its raw state, and this suggests that there significant amounts of natural minerals in their lands. These resources were principal jewel and trade commodities such as gold and diamond. To date, these minerals have remained prominent sources of money as they fetch high and unreasonable values. In addition, there were minerals that were critical in developing the Western industries as raw materials. It is notable that lands were instrumental in according the western society with food and raw materials for their industries. This suggests that it is false to conclude that the Western society solely helped Africans towards their development since this cost the African continent a great deal.

To begin with, it is vital to clear the misconceptions that Africa is country. This is a statement that is both symbolic and realistic in itself. This suggests that while a section of the Americans hold Africa as a true country, the other section hold Africa as a one place that face the same governance. It is crucial to highlight that the second group holds Africa in this fashion because in spite of their knowledge that Africa has many countries. Africa is held as the second most populous continent that even entails adjacent Islands. In addition, the continent is circled by five seas; the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Indian, and the Red seas. It is crucial to highlight that the continent contains 54 countries, as sovereign states, that divide in terms of territories. Besides, the continent contains Madagascar and affiliated Islands.

Africa is large place that usually divides in terms of territories. For instance, there is the Northern Africa that consists of countries such as Tunisia and Libya. Besides, the Eastern part of Africa consists of countries such as Uganda. The Southern part of Africa consists of countries such as Botswana while the central parts of Africa consist of countries such as Zaire. Finally, there is the Western part of Africa that entails countries such as Nigeria. Each of this regions do not, however, similar patterns of climate and life. For instance, the Eastern part of Africa consists of both deserts and tropical climates. These divisions occur even within countries as single countries comprise significant diversity in terms of ecology and population.

Holding African as a country has led to the idea that the continent faces similar problems. African countries manifest different rates of economical developments and social advancements. For instance, some countries are edging towards the Western countries in terms national incomes. On the other end, other countries are trailing behind, just as some Asian countries, in their national incomes. Besides, the African countries possess different rates of stability as some face wars while others thrive on peace. Notably, the African continent entails different types of climatic and ecological conditions in terms of deserts, forests, cold climates, hot climates, rivers, and other types of natural conditions.

The notion of Africa as comprising of primitive individuals is, in itself, a primitive notion. The world has advanced in terms of education and thoughts. It therefore becomes critical to hold other people’s practices as objectively vital to the individuals who are involved in the same. This suggests that each individual possess the freedom of having given lifestyles and holding beliefs that they deem critical to them. The Western society has largely disregarded this element of thought in analyzing Africa. The word, primitive, is a subjective term that can apply to different situations. In turn, something foreign should not simply imply primitivity. The African culture, as a foreign concept to the Western way of life has unfairly acquired the labels of primitivism and inferiority. The Western society does not, however, realize that any practice can be primitive as depending on one’s beliefs. On the same light that the Americans African culture as primitive, the Africans can hold the American culture as primitive. It is, therefore, critical to respect African culture as long as it does not extend harm to other individuals.

African culture is a diverse concept that has transmitted different notions of beauty. For instance, the West Africa’s culture is a rich element that expressed in terms of women’s clothing and jewelry that created different impressions. For instance, the women had discovered and practiced the use of ivory ornaments and gold jewelry. In addition, there were diverse food and cuisines that the women practiced for social occasions and ordinary household life. These aspects differ from the narrow concepts that held African culture as limited in expressions.

In addition, it is crucial to consider Africa as a land of only black people. Africa entails countries that possess individuals of considerable diversity. For instance, it is critical to highlight that African countries entail living whites who are permanent residents of Africa. In addition, the white population divides into innumerable numbers. For instance, South Africa is a country that entails the Dutch, Afrikaans, the Germans and other divisions of the white race. Besides, Africa entails significant amounts of intermarriage that has led to blurry definitions of what constitutes tribes and communities. In other countries, there are Asians, such as Indians and Chinese, who consider Africa as their continent. These groups possess different levels of social and economic life, as some have established large businesses. These communities interestingly interact without regarding the idea that they belong to different definitions.

Besides, the western world largely holds the African continent as a place that shares a limited history. This idea about Africa might have commenced from the colonization and exploration work on Africa. When the Europeans discovered Africa, it became the point from which intellectuals recorded and analyzed Africa. However, the African continent and its people are elements that began ages before the white explorers discovered them. The Africans had practices and a history that build on different forms of advancement such as cultural beliefs and technology. From history, it records that Egypt formed the first source of civilization as it shared interesting development in literature, architecture, and technology. The Greeks adopted this civilization and transformed it into a concept that transmitted into Western nations. It is vital to realize that the African continent had long development in religion, philosophy, forms of life, and cultures that commenced before the Europeans’ discovery of Africa. For instance, certain communities of Africa had learned survival tactics in deserts and water survival skills that made them survive in their given environments.

Besides, it is narrow to classify Africa as a place of famine, wars and diseases. This is an incomprehensive view of a large place that cannot possible hold similar elements. Unknown to many Americans, Africa has thrived on a gradual development of medical technologies and professionalism that applies to given disease challenges. Africa is a place that faces unique medical challenges in terms of climate and economic scenarios. This suggests that it becomes complex to tackle diseases from general perspectives as each country faces unique health challenges. In addition, there are limited types of diseases that have led to the conclusion that Africa is full of diseases. For instance, HIV/AIDS and malaria are diseases that have occupied the American media as the definition towards disease challenges in Africa. Other countries in Africa, such as Nigeria, have world-class trained medical professionals and technology that helps the country tackle its health challenges. It is crucial to highlight that different parts of the African population, just as Americans, face financial constraints of accessing quality medical services that occur in their country.

In terms of wars, only certain African countries face wars. The African continent faces distinct challenges as regards the control of the war and their commencement. Some of the wars emerged in the pre-colonial African state that has made their resolutions an arduous task. For instance, the sharing of resources within large communities and huge populations has made resource sharing a complex task. In turn, it becomes difficult to unify the communities within sound solutions that would inject comprehensive social and economic recovery. Besides, some countries face wars because of different religions such as Islam and Christianity. Different doctrines and practices have led to intermittent conflicts between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.

It is crucial to highlight that certain wars that still dominate the western media has considerably receded. These conflicts continue to dominate the American notion of a place that attracts conflicts. Furthermore, the African continent has prominent lands and climates that have led to large production in agricultural exports for the Western countries. This is contrary to the traditional notion of an ever-hungry population.

In conclusion, it is discernible that Africa has a diverse and wholly different side that is concealed to the Western society. This means that it is not comprehensive t view Africa as either full of idyllic beauty or disasters. From the discussion on the history, it is discernible that Africa has a long and rich history that has informed technology, arts and economics. This history would only come to the fore if the Western world comprehensively explores and discuss Africa.

Works cited

Keim, Curtis. Mistaking Africa: curiosities and inventions of the American mind. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2008. Print.