Eradicating Misconceptions About Africa

Nothando Khumalo

This post originally appeared on from Africa to China, an awesome site put together by four African ladies studying in China. According to their mission, from Africa to China is “on a quest to revamp the landscape of Africa by dissolving existing stereotypes and using our knowledge and experiences to add value and contribute to the bigger strategic thinking plan for the growth of Africa.”  Be sure to check them out!


“How did you learn to speak English?”;  “Oh you’re from Johannesburg – do you know my friend Peter in Nairobi?”; “Do you speak African?”; “Is this your first time being a city?”“. These are a few of the many, dare I say, ludicrous questions that fellow Africans have had to deal with on a day to day basis. If I had penny for every time I heard of such encounters I would have an endless supply of cappuccino coupons by now…*AddictionExposed*. Trust me, it takes a lot to maintain your composure and use the moment to educate rather than go ‘WTF’.

On the 30th of September, 2015, Foreign Policy published  an article that used Baidu’s (China’s largest search engine)  automatic search suggestions to plot and translate the most common Chinese-Language query associated with each African country onto the map below. According to Foreign Policy’s report, the leading queries for many African countries indicate that Chinese web users’ feelings about the continent mirror those of Westerners – they often associate Africa with violence, poverty, disease, and exotic dining habits.

china_africa_map
Map: China’s Stereotypes of Africa, from ‘Chaotic’ Somalia to ‘Awesome’ Gambia (source: http://www.foreignpolicy.com)

Over the years, a number of  initiatives have sprung up in an effort to educate; to put an end to the stereotypes, miseducation and the negative image of Africa portrayed in the media. In 2014, a group of U.S.-based African students launched a photo campaign in a bid to dispel misconceptions about their continent. In July, last year, the Huffington Post reported on a twitter hashtag campaign () which saw Africa’s diverse nations take to twitter en masse to share images – ranging from food and fashion to architecture and landscapes.

So, in an effort to do our part as children of Africa, we will be sharing a series of posts that look into various aspects of the continent’s diverse and rich cultures. This will include themes ranging from languages, history, food etc.

As an introduction, here is a collage of pictures taken at the 12th Peking University (PKU) International Cultural Festival (ICF) held in October the 25th last year. The dynamic PKU ICF, held every October, is a brilliant exhibition of a multi-ethnic university campus. Last year, students from 56 countries and regions took part in this annual event, bringing the flavor of their motherlands to the international audience.

So here goes  the Monday Throwback…

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Sihle and Thuthu in full swing in front of the South Africa booth
Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 11.50.38 AM
Wadeisor sharing picture-perfect moments at the Zimbabwe booth
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Serving African cuisine at the Swazi booth
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Mercy and Lukong at the Cameroon booth showing everyone how it’s done…stunning!
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PKU African students dancing to African beats

Nothando

Nothando Khumalo is a Swazi from Manzini. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor and a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering. She specialized in transportation and plans to go back to Aurecon when she completes her studies. She wishes to work in an environment, or on projects that combine civil engineering with economic development, policy planning and sustainable development.

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