No…Africa is NOT a Country
Sarah Palin is not the only person that has mistaken the continent of Africa for a country, although most people won’t admit it or be exposed by a national news network for the faux pas. I really don’t know when the diverse countries in Africa became lumped into one but I do know this, Africa is a continent made up of many cultures, religions, languages (around 800 by some estimates), cuisine, and an abundance of natural resources. The challenge for Africa and communicators is how to honor the rich history of the continent and yet begin to differentiate each nation or at least each region.
Africa does have war and hunger and the odd coup here and there but there is so much more to the 54 countries than that. William Easterly, Professor of Economics at NYU, said it well on the west’s limited perception of the continent:
“Today, as I sip my Rwandan gourmet coffee and wear my Nigerian shirt here in New York, and as European men eat fresh Ghanaian pineapple for breakfast and bring Kenyan flowers home to their wives, I wonder what it will take for Western consumers to learn even more about the products of self-sufficient, hardworking, dignified Africans. Perhaps they should spend less time consuming Africa disaster stereotypes from television and Vanity Fair.”
Even a smart company like Google gets it wrong when it comes to Africa. So, while I’m impressed that Google is getting a lot of press for being ahead of competitors in identifying Africa as an emerging and sizeable future market for digital communications, I’m not so impressed that sub-Saharan African countries are lumped under the generic ‘Africa’ whilst Egypt, North Africa gets a name check as do individual European nations.