20 Common Misconceptions About Africa You Need To Get Right

Most people who have never visited Africa are susceptible to fall prey to the widespread misconceptions about Africa. Before believing anything you read or heard about Africa, you need to familiarise yourself with Africa facts. These Africa facts will help you refute some erroneous descriptions of Africa and its people. The commonly held misconceptions can be widely categorised into geographical, cultural, social and economical misconceptions.

1. The greatest geographical misconception held about Africa is that it is one large country.

However, this is not the case, Africa is the second largest continent made up of fifty-four independent countries. Each of the fifty-four countries is very different from each other in terms of the political, social and economical organisation. See map below:


2. The different African countries are made up of rural and urban regions.

It is a true statement of fact that the rural areas mainly consist of mud huts while the urban regions consists of modern forms of architecture and infrastructure contrary to this misconceived Africa fact that all Africans live in mud huts. Of course, Africa does have sky scrapers and other magnificent architectural masterpiece! Checkout these well-developed cities of Africa:


3. Africa is not a vast stretch of desert land. It is a fact that Africa is the home to Sahara desert.

However, Sahara desert covers only a third of the whole continent. The rest of the region is made up of alternating fertile lands and water bodies which support farming. This is another Africa fact that is misconceived.

See Also: 10 Strange Facts about Africa

4. It is also a great geographical misconception to assume that Africa is a wide stretch of the rain forest.

In fact, only parts of the guinea coast and Zaire River basin are covered by the rain forest. The rest of the forest areas have been cleared for settlement and farming.

5. The greatest cultural misconception held about Africa is that the whole continent share a homogenous culture.

This may come as a surprise but not even a single African country is governed by the same culture. As much as African nations consist of different ethnic groups balkanized together, each of these groups has its own unique set of cultural beliefs.

See Also: 10 Amazing facts about Africa

6. You have probably read somewhere that in Africa, wild animals roam the street

And that Africans, especially men are always armed with guns everywhere they go in case they are confronted by wild animals. Even in recent times, some still hold unto this, they believe in some parts of Africa, monkeys roam the streets shaking or rather giving people knocks on the head. The streets in African countries are very safe. Contrary to this misconception, wild animals live in controlled regions. Most of the African countries are home to various species of wild animals and birds that are contained in zoos and parks. These wildlife reserves are in turn managed by respective wildlife officials.


7. All Africans Speak one language – the African Language and Can’t Speak any Foreign Language

Sounds funny, how possible could that be? The fact is that the fifty four African countries consist of different groups of people who speak different languages. The number of national languages vary from country to country. English, German and French are among the foreign languages spoken in some of the African countries. This Africa fact refutes misconception that all Africans speak one language characterized by clicking sounds.

8. Africans go on bare foot and skin (or rather wear animal skin only)

There’s this fallacy that Africans do not wear clothes nor shoes. The few ‘big’ men that do, wear only animal skin around the waist line. Though the Maasai’s in Kenya carry spears, but they do not represent the whole continent. Very few hunter gatherer communities in South Africa still wear skin. However, Africans wear modern clothes like any other human beings on the planet. These are actually Africans, very cute!

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9. You probably assume that African cuisines are all weird.

It is a fact that traditional African dishes may not necessarily suit your foreign taste but it is wrong to classify these dishes as weird. However, pizzas and sausages are among the many foreign fast foods prepared in Africa.

10. A widespread social misconception about Africa is that it is home to uneducated people.

But the truth is that levels of illiteracy in Africa are dropping by the years and most African countries have well established formal education systems.

11.  There is No Technology in Africa

Africa is not at all a technological void part of the globe . All African countries have embraced technology. Computers, laptops, iPads and mobile phones are all found in Africa. Even the most primitive persons often own at least a GSM phone.


12. In relation to the above misconception, Africans have brains with high thinking capacity and are able to develop innovative ideas.

The fact that most African countries are rated “third world” should not be attributed to a supposed low thinking capacity but to lack of resources and government initiative.

13. Africa is not a continent flooded with social ills.

Aside from the political and social related cases of violence in Africa, the continent has beautiful scenery and friendly peace loving people who are not always fighting.

14. Misconceived Africa facts tell us that there are a number of environmental related diseases in Africa.

However, health experts have developed proper vaccines and medicines to control these diseases. It is, therefore, a great misconception to assume that everybody in Africa is sick or susceptible to conducting these “uncontrollable” diseases.

15. It is wrong to assume that all native Africans are dark skinned


Africans are generally darker compared to individuals from other races. However, this does not translate to the fact that all Africans have a dark skin. There are very many light-skinned native Africans you will meet on your visit to the continent.

16. There are no built conveniences in Africa

Africa is not a primitive land where people answer nature calls in the bush and have their bath outdoors. Homes, business places and hotels have toilets and latrines in which people can answer nature calls. Check out the one below, this one dey happen for Africa o!


17. Not all African countries are corrupt

It is generally misconceived that the whole of Africa is saturated with corruption. But that’s not true. There is no human society that is completely void of corruption. The only thing is that the rate varies from place to place. A country like Botswana has a nearly negligible level of corruption.

18. The economic misconception that all African countries are poor and survive on aid is misleading

African countries have government systems that manage the countries’ economy as well as create employment opportunities for its citizen in order to enable them lead quality lives.

19. Africa has very few hotels and lodges

Of course, this can’t be true. Africa is a country that is very rich in tourist sites and attractions which are endlessly patronised by foreigners. Also, many African countries have a rich and friendly economy which boost business activities and attract investors. All these and other factors have guaranteed the increase in the number of hotel accommodations available in the country. Different African towns and cities are filled with hotels contrary to the misconception that there are few hotels in Africa.


20. Another popular economic misconception about Africa is that the African countries are economically underdeveloped.

This is a misleading misconception since countries like Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa have registered high levels economic growth. The economy of some African states is even in better conditions than that of some western countries who are just living in past glories.

Emeka Chigozie
Emeka Chigozie
Emeka has a keen interest in tech, entertainment, and politics. He likes to stay up to date with global news when he is not thinking about future trends in tech.


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