Over 11 million square miles: That’s roughly how much land constitutes Africa, a continent with more than 50 sovereign states, trod by 1.1 billion people who speak thousands of languages. A continent so varied, and with such a deep and complex history, it’s the source of some of the earliest advances in mathematics, urban planning, engineering and surgery.
So why are people always telling me that they recently returned “from a visit to Africa”? Or that their lifelong dream is to go on safari in “Africa” one day? Why is this diverse and massive continent constantly referred to as though it were a single country?
“When it comes to Europe, people want to be very specific: Eastern Europe, Western Europe,” says Kathleen Bomani, a creative consultant and researcher from the Upanga neighborhood of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “We didn’t have a Berlin Wall to separate us, but...they get all the nuance!” In talking about the continent, she says, “there's a disregard [where] for so long it’s been OK for anyone to refer to it as just ‘Africa,’ a huge landmass. It has to change, and really we need to start doing that ourselves. The onus is on us.” (Europe.newsweek.com/youre-100-percent-wrong-about-africa-399037?rm=eu)