October 26th, 2010
04:10 PM GMT
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I was sitting staring out the big windows in my 15th floor office, looking at the Johannesburg skyline and admiring the bursts of purple Jacaranda trees dotting the cityscape when my phone rang.

It was Chris Karanja, who is corporate communications manager from Kenya Airways. He phoned to point out that one of the recent interviewees on Marketplace Africa misrepresented the airline industry in Africa. The guest said that you couldn’t fly across Africa from west to east or east to west and that if you wanted to travel across Africa you would have to fly to Europe and back.

Now, this was a real problem some time ago but he says Kenya Airways now operates many flights across the continent. Besides his commercial interest in pointing out the guest’s error, he also stressed that it made Africa seem backward.

Now, the perception that Africa is "backward" is something that irritates and worries many businesspeople on the continent, particularly those working for world-class companies or in highly developed industries.

So my questions are – what are the biggest misperceptions about Africa? Are Africans too sensitive about what people think of them and the state of Africa?

soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. African traveller

    There are other airlines that go across Africa–Ethiopian operates a Addis flight to West Africa. Air Nigeria (formerly Virgin Nigeria) operates a JNB to Lagos flight, etc. South African Airways also operates a series of flights from South Africa to West Africa.

    The issue is that when flying on US government paid tickets, you often cannot use the regional carriers other than Kenyan or SAA meaning that you may need to fly all the way to Paris to get from Dakar to Abidjan when Air Ivoire operates a direct flight. Then again, having been in many of these airlines that have yet to join IATA, etc–maybe those USG rules are not the worst thing in the world.

    Africa has a long way to go–but is being held back as much by unfair trade practices as it is by its own leaders in many places. The joke of it is that US and others have protectionist policies that make it difficult for African countries to earn serious income, and then redistributes the wealth in the form of aid and then African governments love it as they are laughing all the way to the banks (that they tend to own, or at least operate). tough stuff. And China is moving in...all over the continent. And they don't care about those pesky "human rights" issues–they consider those domestic issues. So they will pilfer the few countries that the West is too high and mighty to pilfer themselves... And let us not forget that these wars being fought in the fields of Africa are fought with often legally purchased weapons made by US and other key players...

    October 27, 2010 at 4:04 am |
  2. Shusuke Minato

    Africans are exceptionally "Want to be polite and disciplined" while they do not look like.

    Africans are "the people of principle". They do understand the concept of democracy while most of the African countries' govt. try to achieve it over-night.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:06 am |
  3. Ben

    Africa is huge continent and it's irresponsible to say that "Africa is backward". The continent is rich with history, culture and tradition. Its people are no different that people elsewhere around the world.

    It is important to understand why things are the way they are today, If Africa is backward as many people say it is/ or what not. And if being "backward" is bad in the eyes of many people, then we are all responsible for it.

    Given our mordern history and what had happened in the African continenet and its people in the las 400 years, we all should stop labeling the continent and somehow turn things around and and make Africa what it should be rather than what it is today.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:27 am |
  4. matt

    I'll start supporting africa again as soon as
    - the governments stop spending money weapons for meaningless wars
    - the governments and the people of africa start believing in human rights

    Show me you are pushing in the right direction and I will help you push, but I wont push if you are pulling!!!

    October 27, 2010 at 4:37 am |
  5. Kay Jones

    Africa as a continent is what I call heaven in hell.

    Africa is filled with fertile soils and rich natural resources that are so abundant that a lot of people take for granted including Africans (Kenyans, South Africans, Nigerians, Congolese, Sudanese, etc.) themselves.

    You cannot blame foreigners from taking advantage of Africa's resources if Africans themselves don't care or give a damn right? Let us not blame others for their negative perception on Africa because perception or image comes from within.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:43 am |
  6. Krobo

    Africa is as developed as the rest of the world, but we lack a viable media outlet to tell our story. We have our flaws like every other continent but the biggest misconception is that no matter how educated people are, they continue to see Africa as a single state.
    Africa is a continent and one country's problems is not a reflection of the continent but of that state.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:46 am |
  7. Nicholas

    The most pervasive misperception about Africa is that people regard Africa as a problem. Africa's problem is that it is treated like a problem and not a solution.

    I don't think most Africans are too sensitive about this misperception. In fact, many thrive on it. I have worked in Africa for 16 years and have seen that many Africans are masters at maximizing their returns on the 'parent-child' relationships that a problem focused misperception creates. The parent may be represented through colonialism, African socialism and now aid. All of these systems removes the responsibility from the society, community and individual. The end result is a misperception in much of Africa that hard work does not correlate with success. There, more that anywhere else, it's not what you know or what you can do, but who you know.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:16 am |
  8. Mike

    Having watched the shambolic lead up to the Commonwealth Games as well as some of the instances of incompetence in their running (eg boxing weigh in snafu), I am particularly proud, as an African, of the Soccer World Cup presented to the world by South Africa. Regardless of wether or not the money spent was justified, they produced a world class show.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:41 am |
  9. postcolonialist

    The west continually tries to categorize other people and unfamiliar territory and cultures, neo-colonial america (and europe) cannot accept that there are things that fall out of the vision of our western beliefs and concepts (Read Kangaroo). this claim of "backward," "primitive," continues to be a vehicle in the claim of white dominance over the world.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:42 am |
  10. Genesis 1.1

    Supply and demand...........how many people want to leave Africa and how many people want to go live in Africa? Money comes in to the continent and flies back out even faster. This is the story of Africa. The sad child of the world.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:44 am |
  11. Leo

    Ummm... When people think that "Africa is backward", they don't think about Johannesburg and South Africa in general. Bringing Johannesburg as an example is like saying that Albania is a typical European country:

    "Hmm I don't know why people think Europe is such an advanced and well developed place... I'm living here in Albania, and I'm telling you – Europe is not fun".

    When you put a picture of Johannesburg as a proof that Africa is not "backward", you only make people suspect that it probably is.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:45 am |
  12. Joe

    I would have to disagree....

    My grandparents grew up in Malawi and Kenya and my mother as well, they had to flee Africa because it has slipped backwards.

    We cannot forget the statistics – Africa is plagued with HIV/ AIDS, corruption, political instability, war, genocide, the list goes on.

    I fear for my safety when visiting family in South Africa.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:02 am |
  13. Martin Pretorius

    Africa is a continent with rich diversity, where change is constant, and is abuzz with excitement. Africans are well versed, hard working, friendly and adaptive.

    I’ve worked in many countries around the world and countries in Africa are sometimes more advanced with, for example the use of the latest technology – not backward at all.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:04 am |
  14. George

    Something I have personally experienced as an African is the impression that the rest of the world must be more advanced than us. Having just finished a two year stay in Canada I can say that I am very aware that in many aspects Africa is on a par with, or more advanced than the traditional "Western World".

    October 27, 2010 at 6:05 am |
  15. Igbo man

    I think the west have some personal and financial interests they can go to any rent to protect, and they wouldn't mind spewing whatever kind of propaganda to achieve this:
    China is colonizing Africa, let's stop her!
    Sadam Hussein is a danger to the world, let's remove him!
    China is a communist country, let no one go and invest there!
    Africa is a backward continent, don't go and invest there, let the businesses remain here in the west!
    Oh, lest we forget, the most profitable business venture today is to run some NGO that raises money to offer handouts to some disavantage Africans. Here you invest nothing and gain a lot in return.
    Have you failed in whatever your endeavor in life, and now struggling to shoot yourself to fame, and don't know how to achive that?
    Oh, so simple! Just establish some NGO and head for Africa!

    October 27, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  16. Chadwick Natse

    I tend to disagree with this. We aint backward, we have been forced into this situations by our colonialists. Besides colonizing african countries, they fleeced and are still doing it.
    Africa is Rich in culture, which no any other continent can merge. The continents resources are what made other developed countries grow. From slavery to provide man-power to minerals to provide raw materials.
    Unfair trade preferentials, control from developed countries, acquisitions of companies and even IMF control. With all this draw-backs. We are emerging and we will be there one day one time.

    October 27, 2010 at 6:52 am |
  17. Tunji Jaji

    Africa is indeed blessed,we are familiar and also in line with happenings around the world.. I am not saying this because i am Nigerian,but because i see efforts and achievements in different sectors,some there might be failure in certain sectors but watchout....

    October 27, 2010 at 7:13 am |
  18. Verna

    I think that every people in the world, not only those in Africa, are sensitive of what the world think of them as a people. Otherwise, there won't be such a thing as 'racial slur'.

    And talking about sensitivity, how sensitive could "too" sensitive get? Sensitivity is a culture thing. It will be difficult to define which people are sensitive and which are too sensitive.

    October 27, 2010 at 7:16 am |
  19. Gregory Dube

    It is unfortunate that Western Europe and North America view Africa as "Basketcase".If they continue with this outdated perception they will be left behind by countries such as Brazil,India and China who are investing billions of dollars into African economies which did a better job of weathering the recession storm than so called mature economies.

    October 27, 2010 at 7:21 am |
  20. Weebie

    In terms of the worlds perception of Africa, South African migrants are the continents biggest problem.

    October 27, 2010 at 7:40 am |
  21. Juan

    Africa is the best 1st world country and worst 3rd world country on the planet. There are industries that compete very well with the best there is, and some of the infrastructure is world class. The flip side is also true though, with some Africans living in the poorest of poor conditions with no access to even the most basic amenities.

    To the point about misperceptions – the biggest misperception is that the global economy often regard Africa as a "country" or a United State composition like the US where the reality is that most countries live and function in complete independence and isolation of its neighbours. This generalization fails to draw a distinction between the first world parts and the third world parts with debilitating consequences to both developed and undeveloped Africa.

    African people have a strong sense of cultural patriotism where respect for fellow pan plays a big role. Are Africans over sensitive about world perceptions…. Maybe, but then again maybe these “sensitivities” are nothing more than offenses caused by others who don’t value culture-engrained “respect for mankind” in quite the same way Africans do. The same way personalities differ from person to person, so do cultures. If one wants to “get along” with your neighbour, both of you better understand and respect his/her personality differences.

    October 27, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  22. Proudly African

    Africa ROCKS!
    People have misconceptions about the continent (which is so diverse you can't really say "Africa is backward"). I live in Africa myself, and yes, there are areas that are 'backward', but there are also other areas that are great and flourish in culture, trade etc. The western world has lost so much of it's uniqueness with the increasing use of technology that no longer is something unique to that country... In Africa, different people from different areas wear specific clothes, have a specific culture and speak a certain language, in the west everyone wear's the same clothes, and practice 'tradition', without really living out their own culture.
    I love Africa, I also love to travel, so I don't have it in for any other country, but maybe people should stop looking for the negatives..
    Want to say Africa's high in crime? It merely depends on your 'choice' of crime...
    Want to say Africa's backward, it merely depends on where you look, and what part of your own country you compare it to...

    October 27, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  23. James

    If anybody says Africa is backwards then we should blame the West.Why was the scramble for Africa neccessary and colonisation.Africa had its culture but the west forced its culter on Africa and the end resort you cannot muster was originally was not yours(result failure)If they had taken abit of africa and let Africa take abit of theirs thing would be better

    October 27, 2010 at 8:10 am |
  24. Pierre Mare

    One of the major misperceptions involves democracy, in the western sense. In many African societies, democracy is an expression of discussion and concensus. The household will discuss matters. The head of the household will take that to the village elders. The elders inform the headman or chief who in his turn informs district representatives and onwards to regional representatives. As with every system, there is inevitable potential for abuse, however the interesting fact is that economic choices entailed in democracy are expressed to trusted individuals, rather than on the basis of more ephemeral Western election campaigns based on immediate promise and popularity. So the fact that a political party receives a 70 per cent vote, for instance, rather than the 40 / 60 measure often seen in the west may not be a flaw in a democratic system but rather a reflection of the measure of consensus within the nation.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  25. Solomon Lawrence Azua

    It makes no difference to me what the world think of Africa. Africa is our heritage and we are proud of our mother land Africa. Our hopes and aspiration may not be met today but I will like to tell the world that The sky will not be our limit but the Galaxies.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  26. John

    Year right. I have lived in Africa for most of my life.
    It is backward. I live in South Africa and the way people behave here is shameful. I am still called a European. I wish this government would give me a European passport so I can get the hell of this continent.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  27. tillingwon

    living abroad..you are often asked extremely silly questions or silly comments are made eg i was doing my emails and chatting online,someone asked me in an incredulous manner "are you emailing people back in Africa?!" really!! other stupid comments are eg this must remind you of your home. you must see all those animals in the zoo everywhere back home! like they wander the streets- actually , they think we probably have no streets!

    October 27, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  28. Europe Zambian

    For all those who say Africa is backward, I just have one or two questions.
    What are all those Europeans and Asians, a countless number of them, still doing in Africa? They have married our men and women
    and they call Africa their home. I have personally met a lot of Europeans who have married Africans just to settle down. Stop this
    stereotype mentality!!

    October 27, 2010 at 9:17 am |
  29. Aimee

    "I'll start supporting africa again as soon as
    - the governments stop spending money weapons for meaningless wars
    - the governments and the people of africa start believing in human rights

    Show me you are pushing in the right direction and I will help you push, but I wont push if you are pulling!!!"

    @Matt: The US spends enough money on defense (read weapons/war) in a year to feed everyone on the African continent for 10 years. Ignorant of human rights, Guantanamo Bay???

    This is exactly the problem, people are completely ignorant, and terribly uninformed. Both in Africa and around the world. As an African I used to be endlessly annoyed by it, now I manage to mostly view it as amusing.

    So Matt, your idiotic statement is so completely off, that I'm simply amused by you.

    October 27, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  30. MI Mohammed

    Nice comments. But to be candid, our problems in Africa can be link to lack of leadership. Once the issue is solved then we can and even be the best people in the world.

    October 27, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  31. Estienne

    Everyone can agree that South Africa is the success story of sub-Saharan Africa. What the west feels uncomfortable to admit is that it was built by a system called Apartheid. I'm sure we can all agree on the moral abhorrence inherent in the ideology, but no one can deny that the end result was fairly successful relative to the rest of the continent.

    It is the only African country where the white inhabitants severed ties with their European origins and made the country their own. The result is the biggest economy and the most technologically advanced country in Africa.Even though the infrastructure was built using cheap black labor the key ingredient was Europeans.

    South Africa is used as an example of what Africans can achieve when they have the political will and resources. This however is discussed without the acknowledgment that it is a country fundamentally different from the rest of Africa.

    October 27, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  32. Olebile Molefi

    Take this from an African because some of the comments made here are coming from people who probably have not experienced Africa in general. Some have never even left their native countries or lived long enough in African countries to make all these judgements. The most common misperception about Africa amongst people outside the continent think Africa is 1 country or probably 1 State. You talk about poverty and disease as if its unique to Africa.

    We have everything we need down here in Africa if all of you out there would stop the scramble of our natural resources. Africa would the best place on earth instead everybody is rapping the continent. We still eat organic food here in Africa and that is normal what do you all eat..........?

    October 27, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  33. daz

    I am an African and proud to be one, I have had the privilege of travelling to number of countries around the world and there is no place like South Africa. We can actually drink the water out of the taps of this country, not to mention our infrastructure which is incredibly sound. Our banking system is ranked in the top 25 in the world and economy is still growing year on year. We are not at war with anyone and have an amalgamation of many different cultures in our country.

    So the question is, where would you rather live, Europe how about the U.S.A or South Africa, we actually have tons of fun in this country :-) Business is fun and an incredible experience in South Africa

    October 27, 2010 at 10:07 am |
  34. Blair H.

    I am a Canadian living in Botswana and many of these comments appear to be made by people who have opinions but no knowledge of the situation in Africa. Matt writes in a comment that there are "meaningless wars." Meaningless to who? If he or his family was oppressed or had his future limited by some group, I am sure he wouldn't hesitate to take up arms.
    The fact is that all of the West, Canada, the US and Europe has essentially been trained on computers, technology, democracy and trade for decades. Most African countries are now just setting in their technological infrastructure and we are seeing a new generation tech savey kids emerge. We have come further in adopting technology here than the west did in their first 30 years of computerization. Just look at the uptake of the cell phone here.
    So instead of looking at Africa as backwards, perhaps you can change your perspective. They are behind us technologically, no doubt. But the gap is shortening. If the west lets Africa compete fairly and benefit from the fair trade the future will be bright here. except of course in places like Cote Ivorie that has minerals the US needs, so it is to the benefit of the US to keep things unstable, supply arms and weapons while raping the country.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  35. Fred Nwonwu

    I believe perceptions of Africa's backwardness stems from a feeling of superiority within the west. The west needs something to weigh its society against and Africa readily provides this. As such whenever the citizens complain about how harsh reality is, they are shown pictures of starving pictures in Somalia, Sudan or where ever one of the usual western fueled conflicts is on in Africa at that moment.
    Ever wonder why your movies skip the airports and big cities in Africa to showcase jungles and villages with any amenities? well check this link for answers- http://fredrnwonwu.blogspot.com/2010/06/hollywood-and-african-whither-our.html.
    Anyone that says Africa is not constantly depicted in a light that is more patronizing than not, is not willing to accept the fact that most of the west prefers to remain ignorant about Africa. Just like this writer, who is talking about Africa when it is obvious he meant Sub-Saharan Africa, most westerners are content with thinking Africa is just one big-messed up country, when in truth Africa possess more tribes and languages than other parts of the world put together. Add lack of natural disasters and more minerals than anyone cares to admit and you will understand why they west fears Africa, that and an aversion to mosquitoes.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  36. lawrence

    Africa needs business and not endless help.
    Fortunately the Chinese and Indians have woken up to the business challenge with Africa.
    Endless bombardment of media news on the strving African child has not only affected the African mentality but also the Westerners way of looking at Africa.
    Smart business ventures have already made shop in many often turbulent African countries.
    Westerners have also got to learn that what ever the freely donate will never be enought to feed the continent, but business will.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  37. Mo

    In Repy to MATT – October 27th, 2010 4:37 am ET

    I'll start supporting the west again as soon as
    - the governments stop spending money weapons for meaningless wars (IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN)
    - the governments and the people of the USA and EUROPE start believing in human rights (ABUSE OF PRISONERS AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS)

    Show me you are pushing in the right direction and I will help you push, but I wont push if you are pulling!!!

    October 27, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  38. Naseema

    I feel that Africa is a placed of mixed perceptions. I live in Johannesburg and I've been lucky to see different parts of South Africa as well as countries like Tanzania & Uganda. Each place has a different set of circumstances, issues, pro's and cons. In South Africa for example there is great gap between rich and poor and this is clear to anyone who visits us. We have suburbs where people live opulently and on the opposite scale we have people live in poverty. These extremes, in my opionion, lead to people having a very different views of what Africa is.

    Johannesburg is a wonderful city with a great spirit- and great example of mixed perceptions. There are wonderful places to see and most '1st' world technology and goods are easily available. It also has to deal with the issue of poverty. The crime experienced, in my opinion is a symptom of poverty. Many people still dont have access to electricity or running water. Even more surprising is that these two goups of people live within a few miles of each other in many cases. Here we have the rich living a different experience of Johannesburg to the poor.

    So to answer your question, in my opinion the misperceptions of Africa are a result of Africans not having a clear perception of their own continent because of the extremes present in society.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  39. mjs

    Africa is a basket case.
    extremism,racialism,self loathing.....

    The FIFA SWC was like an aberration.It was eurocentric involving
    europeans.The black and coloured south africans were given the dirty work.

    This very moment in south africa the organised rhino horn poaching is done by europeans similar to the opium trade.Game rangers have
    been caught out farming,poaching,hoarding rhino horn to market and sell to unsuspecting asians at inflated prices.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  40. jacarape

    It is interesting to read the responses formulated by some of the misperceptions mentioned.

    The Western Press has to be partially resonsible. For example they will under report the environmental destruction in the Niger, ignore the Chinese using imported slave prison laborers in Angola, but will report a rape in Kenya.

    I would ignore both the West and the East.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  41. ghetto queen

    Africa,What a sad continent..White Africans are fleeing to Georgia to escape the genocide of whites and massive crime

    October 27, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  42. koonta kinta

    The Only good thing to come out of Africa is the Nile..If Africa fell off the planet it would be weeks before the rest of the world even noticed

    October 27, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  43. Proudly African

    How many of those who report Africa has ever lived in Africa? They usually arrive for a few weeks shooting and then report a continent of 52 countries as backward.

    Queens in New York is backward, but I don't see that on CNN. East London in the UK is a killing field but Skynews doesn't report that always. Edinburg is the murder capital of Europe! Don't let me even start on Limerick in Ireland.

    Africa is as backward as Europe and America. As for the Africans themselves, get your own mouth piece just as the Middle East did with Al Jazeera and stop whinning.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  44. Brad

    The biggest misconception about Africa is that, as Krobo said, the world sees the continent as a single state. Africa is not Australia (sorry Papua New Guinea and East Timor). Some countries are more advanced than others, some countries are less stable than others – same as everywhere. Asking someone from returning from Ghana and someone from returning from Sudan "how was Africa?" is the same as asking someone returning from Kazakhstan and someone returning from Japan "how was Asia?".

    I don't think most general citizens in African countries are overly sensitive about this perception, but many successful businesspeople in these countries do make a point of presenting an image that shows that they have moved beyond this stereotype.

    It's true that there are infrastructure issues in many African countries, but this is no not different than the problems in most of the developing world.

    October 27, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  45. Amanda

    To those of you who seam to not remember, or just choose to forget, Africa; its natural resources and its people are the ones who made and bank/ed the "development" of the so called 1st world countries of today. So when talking about the "backward-ness" of the continent remember that the "good-life" that citizens of the 1st world enjoy is powered much by the sweat and hard work of Africans, rather that be something that happened centuries ago or not. Yes, I believe that we should not blame it all in the past, but we cannot deny that Africa's abuse and exploited past, has jeopardize its future.

    African countries are ones with tremendous history, culture, and strength, with a great understanding of democracy. The problem is that unfortunately those who are in power in most of these countries are western-educated-males, who have left their African ideologies of respect, community, equality and behind, to adopt a selfish egoistic and monetary-focus principal. Africa is not just a legacy, and its wonders are not just myths. We are powerful people, and we will continue to fight those who wish to keep us down. And for those of you who say are happy to have left, and live in fear when you come visit; Africa is a better place without you!

    October 27, 2010 at 11:47 am |
  46. kenneth

    I am a proud African and South-African, people who have written in this forum seem to have a very short memory, every body has some form of criticism or other but nobody provides any reasonable solutions or any good advice.

    Africa is the way it is because it has been and still is being raped by the West and other imperial powers, after ending slavery and colonialism these western powers "pulled" out of Africa to only tie us up further with international debt that no-one can ever pay and barriers to trade in their domestic markets which helps perpetuate our helplessness.

    More effort and real opportunities need to be created for Africans, one good step would be to lower trade barriers on agricultural goods so that we can "export" ourselves out of abject poverty, after all our competitive advantage rests in agriculture. A hungry man last concern is democracy!

    The amount of aid pledged to Africa rarely actually ever gets given, aid to Africa over the last 40 years has drastically reduced in real terms!!

    Keep us helpless and dependent and continue to take our resources, this is the status quo.

    "You can fool some people some time but you cannot fool all people all the time"

    October 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
  47. P. Dunbar

    One of our shortcomings is how little we know, more less apply, of the lessons of history.

    It's finally being noted that China's equivalent of GDP was greater than Europe's a few centuries ago and thus the nation for some is being dubbed a "re-emerging market".

    History shows that states evolve and devolve. Few appreciate that many African domains had civilizations as advanced as or more so than Europe's or that almost all her current sovereignties were formed after WWII. Indeed, many are mere decades old.

    To make a fair comparison it's helpful to compare nations at their relative states of evolution. So, for example, comments about lack of clear property and human rights in certain Africa states today would read nearly the same for almost all of today's developed countries when they were less than a century old. From eminent domain today to serfdom to slavery to suffrage to civil rights, we in the West have gone through painful national evolutions ourselves.

    African economic development, like what's happened in East Asia since WWII, will by spotty with some nations doing much better than others. The the question of perception will then shift away from the "possibility" to the inevitable. At that point many will say it was obvious in 2010.

    October 27, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
  48. Ofosu

    I get so pissed off when I hear people refer to Africa as if it is a country.
    It is very funny how people who have never been to Africa make comments about things they know nothing about.

    Countries in Africa are going through a phase which every other so called developed country in the world has passed through, so where from this hypocrisy?
    There are countries in Africa which are even more developed than some European countries, does this make Europe any less developed than Africa?

    October 27, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  49. karim

    True, africa is backwards depending on waht you choose to gauge..human rights,culture,war ,instability etc..The west choose to look at all the negativities of africa..worse still the west know very little about africa.Africans are taught too much about europe and the americans right early in schools. the reverse is not true..

    October 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  50. Cartman

    my mom says there's a lot of black ppl in africa

    October 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  51. Africanin&out

    Very true,Showing just Johannesburg alone may not dispense the misconception that Africa as a whole is backward but the fact it is there are a lot of other cities in different African countries that are ultra-modern and at par with the best elsewhere.
    We also of course have our not so modern cities with our not so rich people but does it make us backward really?i know every country have its slums...
    That is not even the issue really with Africa,i believe everyone just have a preconceived notion about Africa and Africans,whether they have been there,met the people or not.
    What we really need is for the world to CUT us some slack!!whether we are backward or poor or corrupt or .....fill in the gap,it should not matter in the way you see me as an individual that is African.
    We are a continent like every other continent,a nation like every other,a people like every other,we have our problems now,we try to deal with it,some of us are not helping matters and we don't deny it but for pit-sake do not alienate us or define us..just let us be!!
    When you meet me treat me the same way you treat any other person from whichever continent.
    In my opinion,its this alienation or definition of Africa and Africans due to God knows what, that is really the Problem in/of Africa, we are not "there" yet but if this ideology is changed,we would be half-way there!

    October 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  52. peter mills

    I am 62yrs young and born and bred South African, johannesburg is a shadow of it's former glory, the influx of Africans from outside South Africa's borders turned it into a slum. The much hated previous apartheid government put Johannesburg on the map and it was a world class city.Africa needs to be honest and realise that, they "DONT KNOW, THAT THEY, DONT KNOW"..yes there is huge potential in Africa, but African's need to put the RULE OF LAW First, AND not their uneducated cronies in power. I know i will receive howls of disagreement and DENIAL, but that Africa's downfall.DENIAL,DENIAL,DENIAL,DENIAL

    October 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  53. Tyarn

    Africans for sure are sensitive about what people think of them and the state of Africa.

    However, the biggest misperception about Africa is for anybody to think of Africa as the home to everything bad, such as diseases, corruption, political instability, war or as the case may be.

    I agree that Africa in its entirty is not as developed as Europe or America but that is only in terms of infrastructure. Because apart from the natural resources, Africa's greatest endowement is it's people.
    So i can tell you that Africa is not backward but underdeveloped

    Note that whatever African nations are going through in its strugle for development, that the so called developed nations went through the same or even worst strugles centuries ago at a much slower rate

    Also, the undervelopment in Africa were ocassioned by the actions, inactions and policies of the western world both in the past and their continued neo-colonialism

    October 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  54. kokoko

    Perhaps the most widely held misperception of Africa by the west including people on the dole, is that it is the place where poor people live. The converse is also true for many Africans who think only rich people live in the west. Both positions are sad.

    October 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  55. medixx

    Africa is rich in resources, but the entire African continent is poorly managed.
    When I was 13 years old I will nevr forget the images of ethiopia and the starving children,m Im now 47 and Im seeing the same country, same problem and nothing has changed. Africa;s value system is screwed, how many poor people in Africa have cell phones but cannot educate their kids!! how many have sattelite dishes outside their shaks but not enough food on the table!!! different value system and as long as we take care of Africa, keep giving money , they will keep on asking for more .

    October 27, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  56. Brian

    As Leo said when people think about how backwards Africa is they aren't thinking about South Africa. They're thinking about places like Sudan, Congo, and Zimbabwe. Massive corruption, endless civil wars, coups, ethnic conflict, literal witch hunts, raping girls to cure AIDS, and dictators who let people starve so they can buy more cars and guns.

    There are bright spots in Africa but taken as a whole it's generally seen as a hell hole and the worst continent to live on. If the media focused more on the good that view might change but until more African countries can form stable, fair governments I don't see it happening any time soon.

    October 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  57. Jo

    Call it misconception, misrepresentation or even misunderstanding, I say Africa is Africa, it leaves on a different galactic quadrant. Africa has itself to blame for the self-fulfilling negative perception overseas. We are the ones who feed the rest of the world with the horrific images of ourselves and until we stop, they will never see us in positive light, not with a trillion words, never!

    October 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
  58. Kinyua

    I am a proud African and was reading most of your comments and had to comment. Joe, if your parents really loved Africa, why did they flee at the slightest sign of trouble? When your house is on fire, do you try putting it off or do you run away to live with the neighbors or relatives? I have lived in Kenya for all my life and I would never dream of living elsewhere. Yes we may have our fair share of problems, but we will try overcome with. At this age and time, we should not be accusing which continent is most afflicted by HIV/AIDS, but trying to come with solutions to combat the disease. The is war in Iraq too, why can’t we also condemn Asia as a place of war. The genocide who or what causes them? You are not doing your relatives any favors by visiting them and fearing for your life at the same time, you don’t need to visit them if you think your life is in danger. You must wonder each and every time how they survive unharmed, or maybe you have something special that you may be harmed for that they don’t have!
    As of Matt, I don’t think anyone has asked you to support Africa unless you have deep pockets or a Chinese investor. Which country in the world has no armament? Or how are they supposed to protect their borders? On the human rights issue, do not cluster the whole of Africa together and most countries are actually on the right path. A baby starts off by crawling then walking not just getting up and running.

    October 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  59. Bryan S

    I am an American who has lived, worked, and studied throughout the African continent. I am continually amazed by the average African's commitment to family and friends before work. Many people know of Africa Time, where everything runs very, very late. This is generally because people are busy caring for their neighbors and families before work. It is cultural, and does not reflect a backwardness. I am also, as usual, dismayed that most Westerners love to talk about Africa, its "Third Worldness" and all that entails, but few have ever been to Africa. Even fewer have ever been off the safari trek. And yes, it is a huge, massive continent with thousands of languages (I speak two Bantu languages) and over a billion people.

    Africa is not all Lion King and famine.

    October 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  60. Nicolas ukwa

    Africa is advanced in areas like telecommunication, but it should be known that we are way behind in most of the sectors,can someone show me where we have a complex and working transport network like that of d uk, or functional aviation system like that of the US, or rather supply of basic amenities to it's citizen like that of Germany. We have the resources but corruption has killed us, we need to adopt policies the way India, brazil and china has done to foster trade, ensure growth that will lead to productivity.

    October 28, 2010 at 2:50 am |
  61. Carl

    oh no they are very modern and enlightened, as show by the following stories.

    Uganda newspaper publishes 'gay list,' calls for their hanging



    October 28, 2010 at 3:01 am |
  62. Jonathan

    Africa is a beautiful and rich continent, in resource, landscape, people, flora and fauna. Africa's removable thorn in the flesh is people; people in leadership, people under leadership. This is getting corrected though education and enlightment. Change is coming!!!!

    Am so awed by Africa's magnificence I can’t help but marvel......

    ....am taking my family on a 7 COUNTRY TOUR OF SOUTHERN AFRICA from Kenya, to show the a glimpse of what the continent has to offer.

    October 28, 2010 at 4:11 am |
  63. joe

    I would say South Africa is very far from a success story....

    I have been there and in most places other than a few gated 'white' communities the place is dreadful.

    Isn't there some king over there that turns off the whole countries (not sure which country) electricity supply when he's away overseas?

    I honestly cannot think of one country in the whole of Africa that doesn't have MAJOR problems of some sort.

    October 28, 2010 at 5:03 am |
  64. Alhamdu A. Tukurah

    Africa is said to be corrupt, but looking critically into this one knows that saying this depends on what one sees as corrupt. Africans are highly moral. Looking into modern depravity of pornography, Africans never had such history until the arrival of the developd countries which can still be seen in movies that are made in modern times. So Africa can be seen as the best human resource center abused with borrowed culture of the developed world.

    October 28, 2010 at 6:18 am |
  65. y2k

    most cities that you see today in south africa were built and developed during the apartheid era. Africa should stop dreaming and talking loud but instead roll up your sleeves and work! Be humble and willing to learn from others.

    October 28, 2010 at 7:15 am |
  66. Iyke Nnaka

    I am from Nigeria and I live in Poland. I personally feel worried about misperceptions about Africa. I believe this is a common misconception and misinformation hanging in many western societies. This is quite irritating to many Africans, and calls for a different form of education for those who still see Africa from that narrow perpective.

    October 28, 2010 at 7:18 am |
  67. James

    Africa is a giant that has been asleep but conscious,remember we have only one planet.The west will soon exhaust its resources and when that time comes and from my observation that time is just round the corner,using our resources both human and material Africa will one day rule the planet.So be positive about Africa

    October 28, 2010 at 7:49 am |
  68. Chilapala Thomas

    AFRICA is backward because it has remained natural as nature intended. The forests and vegetation are natural, no man made rivers or lakes. No GMO based foods. Don't depend on credit cards and the majority walk or use vehicles and not flights.
    If the FORWARDNESS of the west means environmental destruction and pollution then let Africa be what it is .Backward. Besides, should mordenity be based on how many are able to fly?

    October 28, 2010 at 8:40 am |
  69. steve

    The best thing that continenet has to offer is the diverse beautiful animals that still (sometimes) live in a natural environment. Other than that, the whole country is backwards and a cesspool of violence and greed!

    October 28, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  70. White South African

    Racism (white on black, black on white), tribalism and a sense of entitlement is keeping South Africa from getting any better. Add that to a society that believes that violent crimes (rape and murder) are the norm and you get a boiling pot of issues. Whites are not welcome to participate in the South African economy and are being marginalized through AA and BEE. This has lead to a massive exodus of skills, which is impacting levels of service delivery and loss of jobs. Corruption is also a major factor. Billions of rands are unaccounted for and HoDs are still in their positions after such massive and blatant corruption and mis-management. On top of all that, SA is being led by a president that is shrouded in controversy.

    Africa has potential. However, its respective governments have become fat cats and let these issues run rampant. Africa also has to drop the victim mentality.

    Japan was literally flattened in WW2 and they managed to become a financial power house in 65 years. If governments want to, it is possible to achieve anything.

    October 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  71. jazzman

    Hmn Africa is backward? I visited a little town around Preston Idaho for a job about two years ago,... the kids there thought i had some custumes on or i was painted, believe me they'd never seen a blackman before. The most deppressed and illiterate folks i've seen are in the USA. How come backward folks in Africa are so happy and culture? and the rest of the world?,,,,@#$%^?

    October 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  72. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Hi Robyn,
    I believe the biggest misconception about Africa is that it's not backward.Africa lacks the basics of life which the advanced world has been trying to sell to the continent mainly because of sentiments.With the exception of South Africa and North Africa,the rest of Africa is reluctant to open-up their economies for development.Some African countries still don't have an efficient transportation network that would provide alternatives to the existing ones.They still impose tariffs and quotas as well as other arm-twisting conditions on prospective foreign investors without suitable alternatives to offer their teeming populations.An efficient and functioning health-care delivery mechanism is largely still a mirage in these countries.For instance Physicians are on strike in Nigeria as I write you and thousands of patients risk imminent death, because private hospitals are merely consulting clinics.Nothing better than that... and the situation is that grim....
    My regards to your family

    October 28, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  73. kwofie

    This is for the person above,if backward is good for africa then tell me why most africans we are living in poverty n black people all over the world.please even though some of the things u mention are well said,u need to re-evaluate your mind set,cause these are some the reasons why our ancestors never did anything for us and so we are continuing in the same path.Our political leaders are corupt and have no vision at all expense and so we become a dependant on foriegn aid.I want to change it all for the better,cause I got vision for africa problems to set the RIGHT path for future generations.

    October 29, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  74. kwofie

    The continent is fine, but the people are wrong,we black people all over the world are the problem,same mind set cause us to be stupid n corrupt by always shitting n pee the very place we laid our head and when someone tell how it is we say {racist}Untill we get our MIND RIGHT,we shall be in the hole.Eevn if the WEST and EAST civilization falls today,we will have no defense mechansm to stop them when they want to take over.SO AFRICANS GET YOUR MIND SET TO RIGHT DIRECTION FOR THE SAKE OF PROSPERITY.

    October 29, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  75. Lynx

    This is a pure comedic field trip. Saying Africa is backward, what nonsense. Africa is not moving on the same plane as the western world, they are moving on their own diverse path. Yes it would take them a while to meet up to the standards set by the western world. What some of you fail to understand is that they would soon meet up to that standard, faster than any continent in the world.

    Big news, Africa no longer has to depend on the West for everything, now they have Asia (China and India) to work with.

    October 29, 2010 at 3:09 am |
  76. AEIOU


    October 29, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  77. anti-rapists

    the city might be modern, but the rapists are Neanderthal. agree that Africa has stood up to lots of problems. impressive. but the imagery on how they treat each other is pretty backwards. the people that i have met from there are very nice. hard to believe they have to deal with the things they had to deal with there. primitive.

    October 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  78. kwofie

    Hey Lynx,can u tell me why we always have to depend on other countries instead of our own n we are a continent.First it was Europeans,and then America and now it gonna be the Chiness n Indians,what next,the south Americans.These kind of thinking as black people always behind begging for food and others things,like I said b4,if you take a look all over the world the same adealogy,be happy for what ever you got,and so this is what I was brought up and it is a WRONG WAY.For what I come to realize now is there are ONLY TWO TYPE OF PIAN: the PAIN that move you FORWARD or the PAIN that move you BACKWARD.And we choose the BACKWARD PAIN as Africans and most importanly the whole BLACK RACE,we rather inflict pain on each other to limite our ability to move FORWARD than fight for an ideas and visions that will enhance our abilities to a suitable place.

    October 29, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  79. Genisis 1.2

    When the West puts a man on planet Mars, the African continent will finally learn that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969. That is the inherent problem with Africa, people always make excuses for not looking forward, but complain about the past and then make excuses for not achieving success. Africa needs doers not talkers, people to stand up against tyranny and middle class growth. Besides the SA president needs to lose a few wives, the Islamists in Darfur need to calm down and Congo's minerals people need to stop lining their pockets. Then I won't say these bad things that I perceive about Africa. Then there will be less misperception about Africa, which is inherrently a good place, spoiled by stupid useless situations like I mentioned above. The situation I fear will only resolve when planet Mars is inhabited, 2 more generations and lots of education.

    October 30, 2010 at 6:28 am |
  80. James

    I live in Europe but I am an African. However, I see living in Europe as the most boring thing compared with living in Africa. Africa is diverse and the culture is second to none. Amazing people with amazing culture.I cant wait to be at home where we live life to the fullest! Talking of modernity, only a low-life will in this time consider Africa as a jungle. Sprawling mega cities with amazing infrastructures. Yes, we have slums just like I have also seen in the other side!

    October 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  81. african

    The biggest misconception is that the West can somehow 'solve' Africa. The people who have the power in each of these countries are benefiting from the un-empowered majorities. Is there any other region where so few 'Mugabes', 'Mois' or even 'Musevenis' hold entire countries hostage?

    October 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  82. Spock_rhp, Miami, FL

    I'm a retired businessman. By preference, I did business in Asia rather than Africa. My perception was, and is, that governments in Asia are both much more stable and pro-business. Further, the labor force in Asia is more highly educated and has a very willing to work ethic.

    I trace the fundamental issues in Africa to tribalism and the resulting backward economic outlook. Business does not want to wait while a centralized leadership makes up its mind, or waits until it receives a larger payoff - our customers want products now, not in three years time.

    We can not afford to lose our production capability should the regime change. We can not afford to have our assets confiscated or destroyed in a civil war. And we can not afford to have arbitrary taxes imposed or radically increased by some future regime.

    Yes, African labor is cheaper than Asian labor. However, Asian labor is so cheap already that this makes little difference to final cost while the proclivity of Asian labor to show up to work each and every day when humanly possible adds greatly to predictability of cost and output.

    Many Asian countries have already invested heavily in the infrastructure required to move raw materials and goods about, while a fair proportion of African countries have not. Communication to and from Asian locations is good to excellent, not so in much of Africa. Electricity supply in most of Asia is similarly more reliable than in much of Africa.

    Although I'm retired, my business associates are not and they're continuing to source products in Asia as opposed to Africa. I concur with their decision in this.

    October 30, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  83. Zorom

    This's Africa!!! The developped world will wake up one day and ask themselves supprisingly where were we when Africa were developping!!!???

    Just see what is happening with China nowadays.

    October 31, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  84. Darxyd

    Ok, I can safely say that in the past 10 years the development in Africa has been outstanding...look at Angola for instance..they came out of a bloody war, dropped their arms and went straight to work,thanks largely to the oil they hit and its many other rich resources she found. Kenya, after her promising 8% growth in gdp in 2007 was later that year hit by a post-election violence and again brushed its shoulders off and went to work (5% growth now)...I can cite many African countries but lets settle for these two.
    I live in Nairobi and am afforded bias considering the situations we have faced (read optimism) but what really irks me is that the media coverage was widespread during these times but were nowhere before or way after things calmed down. I don't mind the criticism in the least because at the end of the day it wont put food in my plate. Now China on the other hand is mum about whatever is happening here. And you wonder whether they have an ulterior motive here. Forget that they have built roads,dams and trade with us without putting policies that hamper growth.Well, while you continue being fed propaganda about Africa, your competition has found a market and partner. And you wonder why the west was hit by an almost crippling recession, while the east continued their staggering growth almost unaffected. 50 years from now you wont be talking smack about Africa and I assure you that for the lowly Africa,the only way is up. I have to get back to my Chinese partners now about shipping details and what have you. Am sure Paris Hilton and World of Warcraft are also keeping you busy.

    October 31, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  85. Shayera

    One of the most annoying misconceptions about Africa is that we are hungry-aid seeking people.Another misconception is that Africans who study abroad are all sponsored. Truth is Africans in Africa have good paying jobs too and can afford to send their children anywhere in the world to get an education.

    October 31, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
  86. Shayera

    One of the most annoying misconceptions about Africa is that all Africans are hungry-aid seeking people. Thanks to the tales the Western media spin, the image of a sick, hungry child in a refugee camp is one that constantly represents Africa.
    Another misconception is that Africans who study abroad are all sponsored. Truth is Africans in Africa have good paying jobs too and can afford to send their children anywhere in the world to get an education.

    October 31, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
  87. Lynx

    I don't think you read my comment correctly Kwofie, I never suggested Africa has to depend on any country. I simply said they have Asia to "work with". I agree with your logic, we need to depend on ourselves and build strategic trading opportunities with countries like China & India.

    November 1, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  88. Taj

    Anybody seen a movie called 2012? that should prophetically be able to tell you where the world will eventually turn to for solutions. Africa is on God's priority list..............watch this space! Am so sure most of you pessimists will eat your own words and I pray God lets you live to see this happen before your very eyes and to your own shame!

    November 1, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  89. chuck

    Africa is very backward compared to almost any other area on Earth. The people are tribal, divided and want to kill each other more than keeping the peace. Most africans are simply too stupid to realize anything else.

    November 1, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  90. African Man

    Africa is what it was described...Are the leader sick,Don't they know what is good for the people....Africa is like the mid-east,they don't know much about production,but yet if you go to there country,with their mineral resources,they took advantage of it and make there country a better place....Take a look at Africa,Abacha,Babaginda,Mugabe,Eyadema,Charles Taylor,They claim to study in the west,Yet the came to Africa to exploit all the money...AFRICA IS NOT ONLY A BACKWARD continent,it is a dumping ground for the west...Africans are ready for the task to make Africa better,but we are just blessed with bad and corrupt leader...
    Those that sees africa as a good country,i guess they have a better job that pays,i don't think someone could prove to me that africa is a plac to live when i am trying all my best to move to europe for greener pasture,Stop defending what is not right,let our leader erase the name,they can do it they can stop it,they can make africa better..

    November 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  91. Jeff Swint Smith

    As a gay person, I deplore African bigotry and homphobia. And, yes, generally, it is a very backward continent, some countries more than others. Tribality is a large part of the problem.
    Then again, most ot the planet is pretty backward.

    November 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  92. kwofie

    It's just too many Africans are willing to compromise in the name of a doller which ultimately derail any effort to peace,stability and growth.

    I love Africa too much:

    November 2, 2010 at 12:33 am |
  93. lynette

    Bad Governance and greed is our biggest problem... otherwise we are fine

    November 2, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  94. flono

    Africa is the land of the exploiters, every race on this planet has exploited it a one point or another! starting with the arabs, then the Europeans, and now the Chineses. And of course, for all the exploiters to exploit, they always relied onto a corrupted Native African who wants lots of money .

    I think Africans are cursed, or something, kinda like Haitians ! Now the question is WHO cursed them, and why?

    November 2, 2010 at 11:42 am |
  95. Angela

    I echo what has been pointed out by many readers. Speaking of Africa like it was a single state or nation is to due a grave disservice to the diversity of this great land – a continent into which all other would fit geographically. I get this better than most American, being from the Great State of Alaska, which suffers similar slights. Of course it takes time to cross – it's freakin' huge.

    Africa far from being backwards or undeveloped often suffers from just the opposite. I get better cell service there than I do in some sections of the mid west. I have had some of my best meals there and met some wonderful educated, culturally and spiritually aware people there. Men and women (though mostly men) who value their heritage and protect the environment and ecosystems of the Serengeti. Many countries are being exploited by the west and Europe – raped for their gems, oils, resources and animals, but it is a mighty land with a host of customs, traditions and ways we barely know. I might add that I have been there nine times (collectively maybe 6 months) and what I've seen is a thimbleful of what they have to offer – but I keep coming back for more..

    On the alternate side, if people keep thinking Africa is backwards – like they think all Alaskans live in igloos and ride dogsleds to work, maybe it will stay unspoiled for longer. That might be a blessing in disguise.

    November 2, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  96. Lev

    Matt said:
    "'ll start supporting africa again as soon as
    - the governments stop spending money weapons for meaningless wars
    - the governments and the people of africa start believing in human rights

    Show me you are pushing in the right direction and I will help you push, but I wont push if you are pulling!!!"

    I say:
    Matt, I'll start supporting the west as soon as they start doing the same.

    November 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm |

    Most often, when people think about Africa they imagine a place of darkness, savagery, akward social settings and a place where human rights and dignities are compromised. These thinking mentalities have often been employed by sundry people in defining what Africa is. There is no doubt, every continent has her own vices and depravities to deal with, and Africa as a continent is no exception. But what amazes me is the perpetuities of some African countries' contempt and derisions toward human rights of all types. Such unacceptible proportion of human rights violations and the pitiable socio-economic and political configurations, did instigate this prevalent misconception of people about Africa as a whole. This evoked my attention to the problem too.

    Let's look at the (D.R.C.) Democratic Republic of Congo. A no man zone, due to prolong conflicts. DR Congo has abundant natural resources that should be used to augment the lives of its populace, but the opposite is happening. The Government and the rebel faction have indiscriminately and lasciviously murdered, raped and mutilated innocent Congolese's women and children. "On friday, October 1 2010, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a (550) page report, listing 617 of the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law over a ten-year period by both state and non-state actors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)."(UN, 2010) This development is paramount for victims in Congo's violence and even ordinary Africans who wa.nt peace, justice and civility restored there. It's also the commencement in bringing relieve to those who experienced the total devastations of their lives, and those of their love ones.

    Nigeria, is another African country with myriads of natural provisions to amplify the lives of its people, and with also the most despicable track records of Human Rights. It is quite pellucid that Nigeria, with all of its crude oil and various cultural heritage, is very unethical and dishonest to it people. It is an epitome of a nation that lacks true democracy, transparency and accountability. Dr. ST Akindele a seasoned nigerian politician and professor writes in his research titled, "A critical Analysis of corruptio and problems in Nigeria," that"The problem is that the government which is needed to defeat corruption is the core of the

    problem in Nigeria." It has also witnessed numerous military dictators, totalitarians and tyrants pillaged and gobbled its resources and gone with impunitive. And with protracted disunity amongst its diversed multi-ethnic populace, there is little hope and optimism for the new generations of nigerians. This kind of system has plagued many African nations like Zimbabwe,Guinea and Liberia.

    Liberia,also a classic example of a country that promises freedom, liberty and economic sanity, but falls short in delivering these promises. In the past, even today in liberia, certain group of minorities were been blatantly discriminated against with little penitence or compunction, even to the extend that those beleaguered subgroups took up arms, resulting to calamities and catastrophes, and leaving hundreds of thousands of women and Children dead, displaced and orphaned. This brings me to the question, how can a nation be vibrant and effervescent when there is no rule of law to protect and defend its down-trodden masses and minorities? There is no way for such a nation. However, Liberia, under the stewardship of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has a lot of works to do as it tries to rumpuse and mitigate bad governance, embezzlement and radical sentiments. And with the unequivocal supports and bequests for Liberia, there is some euphoria for socio-economic and political progress.

    There are also some African nations who have demonstrated high regard for human rights and dignity, and have manifested unparallel socio-economic and political maturity. Most often these African nations are given little, if any, attention. They are often looked upon with skepticism. Such as South Africa, Botswana, Namibia,Libya and Ghana. The current economic and social disposition of these African Countries is quite enchanting and breath taking. They has overcome almost all odds and hurdles to become some of the imperative economies in the world today,thereby signifying Countries, that other retrograde African nations should emulate.

    Africa has undergone tremendous socio-economic and political changes. From pre-colonial periods to colonial and post-colonial periods, it has withstood the distructive powers of men and nature. Sometimes I wonder what, if all men equally, were to endure the prolong brutal enslavements and exploitations as Africans did, would have happened? would western countries be as backward and static economically and socially as some African nations? I am not attempting to allude all of Africa's malaises to the unjustifiable treatements by some group of peoples, but providing a case study so that folks with good acumen can provide some explanations.

    Finding answers to the socio-economic and political problems confronting some African nations requires honesty, courage and committement by their respective leaders. Promises and Summits by powerful and rich nations will have little or no concrete results for these nations. It will take sincere leader with public spiritedness to supplant toxic and debauched system of government, to a more competent, inclusive and proficient one.

    I believe Africans are very powerful people who can do this. Imagine, despite all of the gloomy past, Africans have continued and progressed to where they are today. Let's give them some supports and a chance to move forward

    November 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  98. Art-z

    One reader commented that we "Don't know what we don't know". I suspect that there is a lot of that going around. We are smug in our blissful ignorance. For the most part. However that is not the whole story. Things are changing. Lift the lid and you will probably find anything you want. The current educated generation is much more sophisticated than many in the west know. The only things holding us back are tax collection and as a consequence; the roads. These issues will be fixed. Like somebody said earlier. Watch this space.

    November 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  99. William

    Speaking as an African, a Kenyan, and an expat, Africa is in fact backward. True, there have been advances that have increased standard of living and acquaintance with technology. But there still remains a wealth of other problems that contribute to this notion that the continent is backward. Many Africans like myself would point to Johannesburg but would be remiss in not acknowledging the city's "exceptional status." As both a people and a continent, we have a ways to go to overcome problems not only common to developing countries, but also those that are unique to our given situations. No European/American way of doing things will work perfectly for Africa. The way to tackle this "backwardness" is simply to take elements from industrialised countries that work, apply them, and work to tailor fit them such that the process becomes streamlined.

    Truthfully, there is such a disparity in the country and modern lives that their intersection is the wake up call often shouted by those who provoke with the use of the aforesaid word.

    I actually like what Mr. Karanja is doing. He is taking the initiative by making a positive from a negative: the misconception is just what the airline needs to push even further. Sky is not the limit.

    November 2, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
  100. Adoniah Mukona

    There is no doubt that is is all fallacy based on what used to be. If one is well travelled then you should base your perceptions on what you have seen and experienced. As we get more informed and with the current means of information exchange let us be more considerate about what we say about others. It is worrying and it worries me to know that there are still some of us who still depend on their biased perceptions as well informed and educated as they claim. While Africa may lag behind progress is being made in a lot of areas.

    November 3, 2010 at 2:37 am |
  101. James

    I am a Kenyan and a proud one to be.One time when i visited Germany i was surprised how people dont great one onother even in neigbourhoods and while here in Kenya its almost natural to say hallo even to strangers,i found myself abit uncomfortable learning to keep mum because even after several attemps to great i wasmet with stone faces(is this also development).As i was climbing one hill there half way i met a lady who was having difficulties to breath and an urge to help came to my mind,but everybody else was passing without any concern(I told myself if this is a way of life for these people) i am proud to be African.I speak good German which i learnt in my country and using this i was able to educate some of the people there and i could see them surprised that Africans can still be proud despite all the problems.Ofcourse if we stopped being too dependent on the West we could easily come out of this quagmire and i believe if Africa learns from all the mistakes it has done and also avoid the mistakes the West has done e.g(environmental degradation etc) it will come of age.But if overdevelopment will make people too technical and robotic then i would rather lead a simple life(Jesus )probably could have made miracles to make his travelling easier but he chose to leave simple.

    November 3, 2010 at 7:02 am |
  102. Anné

    Unfortunately, major news outlets will not attract attention or get ad-spend when they challenge the agenda of "West is best".

    The whole notion of "USA/Europe is simply better than Africa" is irritating.

    I happen to be at a university and work in a department that has contributed to the repositioning of Corporate Communication Management as a strategic management function. And we continue to be considered one of the leading departments in the world.

    Yet, the negative halo of the "Africa is backward" tarnishes almost all who live and work here – it is the longest longterm negative stereotyping effect I have ever seen.

    The irony is that we (as a department) recently talked about the fact that our visiting international students (undergraduate) simply don't pass our subjects since they are not on the required academic standard... all of these students are from central Europe (not some small, unknown countries).

    Yes, every continent has problems. Europe, Asia, South America and North America. The list would be too long to insert here.

    Do I enjoy a good life in South Africa? Am I happy here? Do I have a future here? Do I have freedom? Absolutely.

    Do I wish to emigrate so that I will have to start all over, with almost nothing and being "yet another immigrant" in Europe/North America? Absolutely no.

    I don't think I will last a long in a country like the USA where people freaked out about the president being a different skin colour than white or are taught that the "USA is exceptional", but then they cannot even find many other countries on the world map...

    Final comment: extremist politics are on the rise in both Europe and North America... Not a context in which I wish to live, thank you.

    November 3, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  103. Living in Jos

    Is Africa backwards? Instead of all this opinionating based on one or another perspective, why not just check some standard, international measures of well-being such as those in The State of the World's Children (WHO/UNICEF), Failing States Index (Foreign Affairs), Global Development Index, and so on? Naturally, one index does not describe every person on the continent, but it will certainly give you some overall, useful information.

    November 3, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  104. romusk

    Hi all
    Let Africa manage its own affairs. We are a sovereign continent. Africa's future and current state of affairs shall not be determined by how other nations perceive. In the words of Bob, "Africa is for Africans and Europe for Europeans.

    November 4, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  105. ludwig

    I m overintelligent. i want to help.

    I watch the table contributors on the top of this window,
    i notice immediatley something chocking, that America is invaded by Asians, chinese immigrants, and indians, malasians...
    I understand now why your country has economicals issues.
    If you let millions of people coming in your country whose economy is not that high.
    Your economy will not be that high. It's quite simple.

    African people you are strong. You move, you smile, you create the music of this planet.
    The white people copy your music.
    You have modern cities.
    Everybody want to see a wealthy Africa.
    I m from west Europe.

    Just somethins is very important.
    Like in Asia, you must stop making babies.
    If you earn one average salary of your country, you can make one baby.
    If you earn two average salary of your country, you can make two babies.

    Stop making babies. I m a man. i know how to avoid making babies.
    it's simple.
    so many humans in India, Asia, Africa, Europe also, suffer, and why?
    because their parents give birth randomely.
    Must stop that.
    communicate it.
    Critisize people who make too many babies.
    tell them to stop that. it's a human massacre.

    people who give birth randomely will have a tragical live.

    Sure their is doctors in africa,
    engineer, architects, modern people.

    November 4, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  106. Frank Mulungi

    who decides how advanced a place is?? The evanescence of western common sense and their arrogance causes them to think that they decide...I hate this...A common man in the village survives and thrives with what is available to him...of what use is a skyline, etc to him...? ma opinion

    November 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  107. kaka

    i do not agree that africa is backward in many ways. being backward could simply mean that African's ways of doing things is not the same as the western world. what is wrong with doing things your own way?

    my main problem with Africa is that there are alot of educated people abroad who find it hard to go back home though they would like to do so.

    i believe that eventhough our governments are very corrupt, as citizens and proud African's we can do our bit and help motivate and educate our communities about how we can make life better while taking the attention away from the government. for instance go into our small communities and give motivational speeches about ways of improving agriculture, education and health.

    i love africa but i am so scared to live there because of the lack of security and the hospitals i wish the government can invest in this

    November 4, 2010 at 3:15 pm |
  108. Alex Casimiro

    Africa is like a train that got derailed with the arrival of european colonialists on the continent. And since that derailment africa lost a lot by way of its civilization, culture, development, etc. As a result, Africa was forced to embarque on a long process of assimilation that as been going on for over 500 years. The decolonization process by the colonialists was not done on good faith. Rather, it was framed in such a way that Africans became even more enslaved with their former rulers. For instance take the francophone countries that, even today, are totally subservient both economically and politically to France. Africans need to unite in order to ascertain their identy a key ingredient for Africa's development.

    November 4, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  109. Mkenya

    Thew misconception about Africa is that there is nothing good about it. The west thinks there is war and famine in every country and every one is poor and we all lack education. The donor agencies mint money from this and at the end of it all, the west benefits from our woes.

    November 5, 2010 at 7:47 am |
  110. nwandu

    this topic is totally beyond vagaries of nomenclature. in nigeria alone we have over 5 different indeginous airlines that fly to over 15 destinations in africa. we do not have to touch down in europe.


    November 5, 2010 at 8:03 am |
  111. Dennis Munyasya Muthoka

    this is sad
    Africans....backwards....can't stop laughing
    i would rather stay in Africa
    than to some western country where your neighbours do not even know your name,where there is no sense of friendship,where the core values of the societies have been eroded by decades of the so called 'development'
    After reading some of these outrageous and outdated comments
    from people who are perceived to be of sound mind and thought to have the ability to be analitical
    i have decided to go and visit my greatgrandmother of 97 years and share some mangoes under the clear blue sky free from all the pollution brought on by your so called 'development

    November 5, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  112. MCG

    It is actually pathetic what and how the world media reports on Africa as a whole. It is very irritating, incorrect and unfair. Laughable at times. But what can one do? Not to say that any of the countries are perfect, but seriously.....??? The funniest part is how people think Africa is one country, I give up.

    November 5, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  113. Bounty Brews

    What is the possible line for Africa`s development?

    November 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  114. AfricanMugu

    Africa is NOT a country.We Africans do not have to be like the West to be called developed.Technology is new to Africa due to the fact that we have always had the best of everything directly provided by nature so there was NO NEED to put tooth paste in a plastic tube.The West is simple jealous because our genes are simply the best anywhere on the planet.We Africans secretly feel sorry for white people due to their WEAK and inferior genes.I know I will get some stick for these but the Black man is far genetically superior to a white man anytime.All the so called science the white man has today is just a matter for their survival in a harsh environment.Africa is the wellspring which ALL life flows from.

    November 6, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  115. AfricanMugu

    I forgot to add the WE don't really care what THEY think about us.WE only wish to be left alone by this so-called developed people.Please leave us alone,Ok?

    November 6, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
  116. Nanor

    Those who view Africa and Africans as still backward should also try to dig the history of their past. They have forgotten that they also came from somewhere, and have moved on as Africa has done today. It is only backward people who lump the whole African continent together and label it "backward"

    November 7, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  117. Shusuke Minato

    Africans are "Hyper-forward" people. Never backward. As soon as they see something very useful, they have to have it over-night. It is a very haste move but they cannot be good patients.

    Hyper-forwardness of Africans, coupled with impatience, often bring about violence and political stupidness. Recent incidence of Zimbabwe is a good sample. Roots are the same for the violence in Congo, Rwanda and Brundi, Uganda in 1980s, etc.you name it.

    Let us ask Africans, "Slow down".

    November 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  118. Lipo

    My personal opinion is NEVER to take responsibility for people's ignorance of Africa. The perceptions they have is for them, it does not add any ounce of meal on my plate, it does not teach my children and it does not provide me healthcare. Your perception of Africa is yours, and I care less what you think.

    November 9, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  119. Sifa

    we crying for nothing we don't have to cry we talking that we no notthing about. the 2nd reachest country in the world is in africa and white media like get dirty Afrca's name thats all

    November 9, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  120. kwofie

    Only if the African women was having kids with smart and intelligent guys we wouldn't been having all of these problem.

    November 10, 2010 at 3:09 am |
  121. Okoit B.

    Backward is a very relative term that should be defined and determined within the context of why, where, when and who! As compared to west Africa is backward but not as backward as it was 1 to 2 years ago. Africa's progress should not be measured by where the west is now but where the west was at the same time in their history! We are doing fine...

    November 10, 2010 at 6:44 am |
  122. Breaking the stereotypes

    To Dennis. Please, do us all the favour of staying where you are. It is obvious that you have never lived anywhere in the West world because in case you had, you would have known not to categorize things. Born and bred in Europe, I do know all of my neighbours' names and I always have. We care for each other. Treating the whole African continent as one country is just as wrong as seeing Europe as one country. There are a bit more reserved European nations but many warm and temperamental ones, so you need to appreciate that fact before posting stereotypical statements. Go to the library and open the big dusty books, you will learn where true values actually are! Enjoy eating the mangoes and beware of the mosquito bites, the dusty air from unpaved roads, etc.. I'll go visit my grandpa who is 86. We happen to live long and healthy too, you know? AM LUCKY TO BE BORN EUROPEAN!

    To African mugu – same advice. Go read some basic biology and tell me again about genes. Oh, forgot, you are so strong and resistant that fear no malaria, flu and AIDS... Africans are all around me and as soon as some drizzle falls, they'll stay at home or get a runny nose and put 3 blouses on so I hope your utopical views on superiority keep you warm next time. And as long as you have this mentality of separating people on WE/US and THEM.... well, yes, you will be backward. Toodles.

    November 10, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  123. Arthur uzo

    If you say Africa is backward, then your brain is backward. If you say Africa is forward then your brain is forward. Africa story should be told by Africans not non-Africans. Those who control your story, controls your life and your history, and they will fight to control your future.
    When the west were busy thinking and wishing that the death of the last nigeria president will cause politcal instability in nigeria, they were disappointed that nigeria showed calmness and commonsense in moving forward political. Their news media did not highlight that news that much, reason been it is not what they the west wish to see in an Africa country. So I say to them the western media-You are backward in your mind.

    November 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  124. ziggy d. m

    To say Africa is backward is a bit harsh, i agree but its true. The use of the word under-developed would have been more appropriate and shown a bit of respect to the continent for all they have had to go through to what it is, that is a place were the world cup was hosted successfully.......

    November 12, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  125. James Ohene Sarpong

    The people of Africa were first used as slaves. This was followed by many years of colonialism. Then came independence with all its antecedant hopes of a new African who was prepared to come out of this poverty. This chance was squandered by our leaders and the backwardness became even more entrenched than ever. This eventually led to inferiority complex amongst some of our leaders; they just did not know the right antidote to the problems. This problem was coupled with their greediness and avariciousness. Do not forget the African strongest believe in witchcraft, sorcery and black magic as a means of solving problems. These problems are compounded by the various ethnic divisions in the countries. Yes, we are backward but this can be turned froward only by Africans. Co-operation amongst the states will be the only answer.

    November 12, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  126. Collin Mbaga Nkwasiibwe

    slavery,colonialism, independence, etc, fine all came up with their set backs, but today, the only way forward for Africa, is a fight against corruption. It has become a cancer, a virus to most African leaders, as in all leadership positions!
    On the other hand, there is this misperception that Africa is 'too hot',people sleep with jungle animals, no roads, no electricity! Its so absurd! I challenge all of you out there who haven't been to Africa, to try it out. You wont regret it.

    November 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  127. Martin Maimbolwa

    The problem is a lot of people in the advanced world, not only the west have this "syndrome" were they feel Africans should not be as well to do in status like them. Its something I have learnt and come to believe over years. Many believe an African be a person who must beg or at least lacking somewhere. He should not be the person to stand up on his own or stand up to the standards to those in the advanced world. With the advancement in communication, global culture people should accept that Africans are moving fast.

    November 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  128. Lydia Kerubo

    I wonder at times why so much focus is given to the misperceptions that people have of Africa and yet am sure that people have their own misperceptions about other cultures in the developed world!

    November 17, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  129. wilma

    i was so shock when our mother earth grown fast and being old in every different parts of continent,its not even helpless to the riches country to give some aid to not developed country but they would give some bad imppresion and look they are not given a true help. infact they let the non develop country felt more helpless,,,i was to hurt when every one give any bad imppresion about africa,,am living in asia and i always have some dreams to be in africa one day and i was very disappointed for those narrowed minded,,,,i hate of being any kind of mind and shame on u breaking the stereotype i think u are not healthy as what uve been think,,ur mind was full of d'se that needs to be cured,,every country have thier own poverty,,more riches country have more poverty too.fighting enough to have a living,,starve to have a good education that made them selves distruction.lies to made them satisfactory to having anything but actualy they have nothing....modern country are the most rare in any viruses and d'se..too much modern life is just temporary living and very artificial living unlike in non developed country...they said africa is backward,,i dont think so? which country have no problems?which country have no war itself? which country have no viruses and d'se?which country have no killings,culture,norms and belief??? which country made by GOD in percfect?? no one...rights? i love to discover and give my help for somebodys with out any sayings,,,more u said more it showed what kind of people are u...just extend any of ur blessings in deeds not in sayings,,,why we are not trying to get down personaly and tried the wonderfull life that african have,,,hope all can realized every beats of thier hearts before they said anything.....pls dont ever say anything but pls do whatever u can do not u can say,,
    no country GOD made was safe,advanced,backward,riches,poor,but we are people are responsible for this...every one will face GOD one day,,,just remember...

    November 17, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  130. wilma leysa

    oh! yah! i forget to say,,those who living in a modern world pls dont tried to get down ur feet in africa,,people will gona bite u,,,and to those western and eastern people pls stop to get mad in africa,,,they will left ur wealthy living behind one day and western people get ready to being slave in the african people they are coming "BACKWARD" so soon to get u all...poor country are riches....riches country are poor,,,shame on u chuck and breaking the stereotypes..

    November 17, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  131. Petit

    Africa is a continent and not a state (country) anybody who says africa is backward should aswell tell me if europe ,america and Asia are not backward . I live here in europe , are,Bosnia Romania ;Albania,Italy,Bulgaria not part of Europe ? are they better than africa.Go to the streets of Uk, Germany , france ,Swiss ,Holand ,and other they are full of poor and desperate people Are they better than Africans? Do you know how many Americans and europeans that are homeless,and hopeless.how many are aFricans, Africa is better and have more resources than Asia and the middle East. The westerners, pls tell yourself the truth. People are afraid of their lives everyday in western world because of insecurity , terrorism, cancer and other diseases kill more in western world. There is no good and healthy food in western world. The luxury Bio foods in Europe is and everyday food in africa. What makes africa backward ?WHo lives better ? Tell yourselves the truth!!!!!!!

    November 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  132. Jester

    I bet most people speaking about Africa in unsavory terms are white South Africans. Never seen a more bitter group of people than them.

    November 17, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  133. african

    South Africa is rated no 1 crime city in the world. We are also a third world country, which is rife with HIV/AIDS, crime,hijacking, rape, murder. U dont know if u going to live past the stage of getting out ur own driveway, or if u going to make it out a shopping centre. We have apartheid in reverse. Crime is out of hand-dont be fooled by the wonderful behaviour you saw at the world cup....its a farce. Julius Malema up next for President? G-d help us all!!!!

    November 17, 2010 at 9:16 pm |
  134. Kunal

    im a kenyan, funny thing is that we pay our leaders more salaries and benefits then western leaders, we halt our free education programe to pay a govt twice its original size, we increase the cost of fuel, water and electricity for the same reasons, and we wonder why industries leave our country, we have a president, prime minister and vice president who take remarkably large salaries when only one person should be there and not all three, we dont allow tea plucking machines and we wonder why nobody is buying our tea in the international market, banks and many other major institutions are partly owned by ministers who get into public office to support their businesses and also eliminate the threat of competition, AFRICA'S BIGGEST MISTAKE – BELIEVING IN MIDDLE EASTERN RELIGIONS (CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM these 2 religions shall do what tribalism has done(destruction) to africa, why not follow african religions only, i was shocked to see a somali attempting to kill the cartoonist who drew the prophet with a bomb, i mean why should it have been an african, islam does not have any real roots in africa, timbaktoo is evidence of arabs in africa not africans following islam, christianity shall tell u do not use condoms, then later on we shall all complain of too much population, lets all be more intelligent and solve our countries problems. Mugabe did well to develop his country and so should kenya but we should not ruin it the way he did

    November 18, 2010 at 12:56 am |
  135. sirio D

    The misperception of the african was created by non ambitious greedy dictatorship and warlord backing by west to do favoritism policies, in this dark continent , if i not wrong 52 states are there but unfortunately 99 percent led dictatorship , second point i would like to highlight is that west have still mental colonist , people this continent have no choice to selecting their leaders fairly .

    November 18, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  136. Luisa O

    In my opinion, a lot of us (African countries) still practice one form or the other of our culture which i think is great esp if it is not detrimental, but these practices are often percived as "dark and barbaric " thats why we have missionaries trying to save us from our dark and back ward ways, when they forget the morally depraved practices they have in their own countries....Plus i think that alot of the "west and Europe" dont really have a culture so anything different is definitely bad and wrong.....
    Also, am sorry, a lot of the countries in Africa received their independence in the last 50 or so years and am sorry if we are taking too long to figure out our "teething problems" but the last time i checked, a lot of these countries that are calling us backward and so on actually have been self governed for a long long long long time and in the 1800 and whenever they went through their fair share of internal wars and dissfactions and teething problems and finally got it together.
    Now i am not by any way saying that we should use colonization as a crutch, we should take responsibility for our own actions. Greed and bad leardership and lack of transparency are issues that we grapple with and will have to work on somehow.
    And by the way, Africa is not one big country...that kills me when someone wants to post their 4 cents worth but still thinks Africa is one big country.
    Bottom line, you are reading this post, possibly commenting on it, you grew up in Africa, you recognize the issues that we face, i dont see anything backward about you.
    At the person who wants a European Passoport get the hell out of AFrica, no one is stopping you! the problem is not Africa, you wouldnt feel better about yourself if you were in Europe! those are insecurities you have to deal with..you really are not where you live! yikes

    November 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  137. Sputnik

    There are no hopes for Africa. We have learned from Robert Mugabe that his once-successful country now claims the lowest life expectancy in the world - 37 years for men, and 34 for women - and the world's highest inflation rate - 11,250,000 present.

    November 19, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  138. Z.

    When I was in the Navy, our captain refused to stop in Africa. So that's how bad it is, even the US Navy is afraid to go there. And all along the coast it smells like rotting carcasses. Besides, look at all the African people who want to move to the US as refugees, but Americans only visit Africa for tourist-y or humanitarian reasons, they don't want to move there because it is in such a bad state of affairs. I know I would not want to get hacked to death or my children raped. Even displaced Haitans didnt want to go to Africa

    November 20, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  139. wilma leysa

    i was glad that some one was consider their feelings for those who live in africa,,i was over whelm now and lil fine when i read your message miss LUISA O.It was so much great feeling,,,you are right,,,everything you said are true,,,,some riches country are poor on culture and yes! they are riches but they are poor in manners,,,riches but poverty was much of what they think,,,they are arrogant in all many ways,,,nothing can made them happy but to distroyed any one faces at them...In here in asia,We look the western and europe people is very very ordinary and almost they are trying to prove their selves to being higher? than any one but at the end they are not,,,,racial in every west and europe parts are the one big problem,,we asia are aware as we have to be more open minded but almost of the time we just try to prettend that we are not hurt but deeply inside its hiding,,,they said they are a human rights? where?? no! right?? they are more greedy on politics and about technology? west and europe are the most polluted country....thats their country problem that will effect where ever you are,,,PEOPLE WHOSED LIVING IN THE ARTIFICIAL WORLD THEY ARE SOON TO BE DIED,,,BUT LIVING IN A SIMPLE AND ORDINARY WORLD ARE THOSED WHO HAVE AN SELF SATISFACTORY. because everything are natural,,,african country are riches for everything,,,west ,, europe are poorer than every one,, HEY! all in west and europe don't get tried to get down in africa as your feet are dirty and ill,,,sure! the african people will be infected,,,,

    November 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  140. Angry black man

    One major misconception is that Africa has been taking itself backwards all by itself. The truth is that we continue to receive a lot of help from our hypocritical critics to the north.

    Northern powers are responsible for a lot – if not most – of the political instability on the continent. Once in a while a Mark Thatcher may be caught red-handed. Or the shame of an Idriss Deby may point an accusing finger to a Northern capital. Bust most of the time the Julian Assanges of Africa do not get to be heard. It is a violence-cursed continent, you know.

    Meanwhile, because most African economies are owned by Western MNCS and wealthy families in the West – and because the nature of neocolonialism is such that the colonists live in the metropolises for the most part – capital flight means that only a tiny amount of the money made in African countries actually remains in Africa. This explains why the infrastructure is much worse than during the colonial period proper, when those who owned the economy had to invest more of their money in their own backyard, rather than send the bulk of it back to the metropolises.

    Nowadays, foreigners come down and impose their own political favourites (typically a very destabilizing process socially, politically and economically called civil strife), and demand that impoverished states fix the infrastructure, take all the blame – while they themselves pillage the continent in the name of some ideology or other, and do the blaming.

    November 21, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  141. Angry black man

    *misperception (not misconception)

    November 21, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  142. wilma leysa

    now a days we have any backwards even riches country...... every country faces a lot of problem,,every country faces killings,economic krisis,political fighting,governance by any militia,for some of the us man who scared to be hacked by african its just simple as all you guys are scared of being death,,,a lot of missionary and doctors who not scared to being infect for some viruses and d'se am given u my salute and for those who made them mouth shut but help a lot to african are the one heros on me..every country have their own rape cases,every country smell like rotting carcasses,every where theres no safe,,not only african move on us to find them selves refuges,,a lot of country people jump into their own country to other country,,,west ,east, europe country,be thankful as your more blessed from every country but we where sad for every one of u who made the first people who made our mother earth become old and more on danger always..how we asian say that?? never mind we just stupidly followed of them who made us more suffer now,,,we cant possibility feel by now but our children to be where so soon be on danger...

    November 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  143. Jediel Kanamba( Perth, western Australia)

    Every time i pick a book in the book store,a book that tells the epics and adventures of a certain explorer,farmer,conservationist,journalist,tourist,pleasure seeker,politician ,from reality to fiction,the back cover writing is so predictable to include.."well come to read through the amazing story through the darl contonent" or follow my foosteps through journeys in the lonely planet"..in the forgotten planet..ETC.The list is endless.try perus through books in any store in the planet and you will see what i mean.In other words,people are willing to write and tell a story about the amazing wildlife,landscape etc in Africa and make money from the story but on the other hand without a wink in their eyes,imply the African continet and its people as the dark,God forsaken,lost,lonely planet.This goes against the morals of living.Its fair to make money from A story and then pourtry the source in a very disheartening notion.To me this taking without giving back and its time the wqorld stoped.Think of the discriptions like "the dark continent"or third world"think of the impact these words have on the self esteem of a young African child who is born and go to school just like any other child on the planet but for them they have to overcome stereo- labels from the world.This is not fair and its not right.Africa needs to begin to insist on being treated fairely.It is possible.It is necessary and it is time.I just hope the United nation and other bodies will burn the use of terms that tend to encourage Africa and its citizens to be viewed as third rate.There may be short comings but its a way of life of a unique people and by no means third rate.Negative words n terms perpetuate backwardeness

    November 22, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  144. Kelia

    AFrica is our mother land. I love kenya, and I am a proud African. The west and their media including CNN like negative stories. I come from a village is Western Kenya where there is running water since 1990s, Electricity 2006, good roads, and cell phone where they call around the world using ksh. 3 per minute. I try to call a friend in Germany and the connection fee is close to what Cuba and North Korea ( leave alone how racist they are) charges.
    If the west is still thinking of conditions China and India are doing booming business creating millions of middle class Africans.
    Finally, Africa's history is unique comparing to the rest of the world. But soon or later when we became the United States of Africa, we will be a force to recon with. HONGERA SOUTH AFRICA FOR 1ST CLASS WORLD CUP SHOW.

    November 23, 2010 at 3:55 am |
  145. FJ

    As a South African, it's always interesting to me how people from other African countries want to use South Africa to show that Africa isn't backward. Please use your own countries as examples .... South Africa is hardly a typical African country, never was!

    November 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  146. wilma leysa

    for so many pictures and bad news of reality of every country ,,first things that media and many researchers are not aware for what will be affect or comin out of every words they will be said.Your right jediel some only taken any kind of poor faces and things to show to the whole world whats the reality but they didnt know how does it affect to evey lil life was living on that country,,since it already happened,,,for the sake of their selfishness they sold their body and soul and it will be still followed until of this days,,yes! everytime u can see how does lovely and tiny faces was fighting for there lives?? but just only for the picture but on the reality it was ordinary that even riches country was have it,,so funny,,,those people who made them selves to much great let it be...for thosed who was simple they are more bless...and i was feel so much sick for those no hearts to other human.

    November 24, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  147. Lynx

    I have never considered South Africa as a real African country. Whether we like it or not, Africa is growing. Not just in countries we hear of (S.A., NIGERIA, KENYA), but in every part of the continent. It is only a matter of time before we see African countries lead the world.

    November 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  148. Luisa O

    At FJ, really? its the writer who referred to SA, not all the writers are referring to SA...I am Kenyan and proud to be Kenyan. You obsviously have some sort of complex about being bundled with Africa...ooops,

    November 26, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  149. Peekay




    November 28, 2010 at 7:37 am |
  150. wilma leysa

    theres nothing possible for doing any thing esp.in the land of africa,,,we asians are more on killings,,curraption,dse,viruses,bacteria,luck of education,?????? more on not self satisfaction and fighting for living,,just all hate any words came from the reporters and some of tourist.
    they just to come down there and deliver some nonesense report and show some the poorer people into us,but nothing to be expect any help from any country,,,so poor,,west and europe all the racesim is in ur country and the asian too,,,shame as even old,spoiled, things and food stil on sale and all was copy..if they can does some human, apperience made in them into a problem,,its better am gona step down into africa than im gona come down in westernian,europe and asia....

    November 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  151. Dorothy B

    You people took us into salvery, we built your roads and did all the hard work for you, making it easier for you to concetrate on developing other sectors. You just sat there and we did your donkey work.
    After sapping all our strength, you still have the right to call us backward? Were we not the ones that did your work that you still cannot do upto now? Instead, machines have taken over from where we( Africans) left. You who call us backward people have never really had the chance to work that sweat because we did the hardest part for you.
    Just when we thought we were alone and tried to build ourselves in our little backward ways, you came again and scrambled for our land like hungry lions hunting for prey, you exhausted our resources and taught us greed. What the African leaders are doing now is exactly what they learnt fro you forward people. Greed and taking the best leaving the rest for the poor.
    So whatever made us backwards, KUDOS to the forward continets because we learned from the best. You used and abused our people and land and Africans are still suffering from that trauma, its a long road to healing, we worked for your countries and someday when we get our strength back that we lost investing on your success, we will fight hard and no one will touch us again.
    Please let us just be, we are a result of your greed and our tired bones from the shit the black man has wiped from your asses.
    I want to congratulate you forward people for Africa's state now, at the end of the Day, the blame goes back to you.

    November 28, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
  152. Mad About Africa

    I am proudly African, without any wish to travel out of our continent. I live in Johannesburg, which is only one of a few beautiful and advanced cities in Africa. I am 33 years old, and not once in my life have I ever met anyone who was raised with aid from the West. I finished school, went to university, started working, and not once did I receive any aid, I have never needed it, and will never need it; and I dont know many people who do. And I can assure you, my kids wont ever need aid from the West or from anyone from that matter. I work for a South African company that actually bought brokerage firms in two European countries. I can be proud of the fact that the organisation I work for, has created employment for thousands of us here in Africa, and a few hundred of those who are seen as genetically superior in Europe. Of course there are people in Africa that are suffering thats undeniable, at least thats what my $7100.00 monthly salary tells me. However, the many that are "suffering", sustain themselves through agricultural produce (albeit being raped by the west), and manage to put their kids through school and through university. Africa is smarter, faster, better. You can choose to believe anything you want of Africa, but dont be fooled, we have our destinies in our own hands. The majority of Africans are self-employed (they didnt even feel the global economic meltdown), they dont worry about retrenchments, and dont have the noose around their necks that a lot of "westerners" have because of their paycheques. Africa is responsible in many ways, to their environment, their bodies, and their communities. Our kids have manners, they understand that respect is earned, but they give out that respect free of charge, up front. Drug addiction in Africa is only prevalent in the white communities; the only Africans affected are from multimillionaire (Dollar millionaires exist in Africa too – in Large numbers) families. If I had to do this life all over again, it should be in Africa over and over again. I have also been to other beautiful cities in Africa such as Lagos, Abuja, Gaborone, Lusaka, Nairobi, and Cairo. I have turned down 2 opportunities to work in the UK, simply because I did not want the quality of my life to digress, and didnt see my children going to any school in the UK (we see a lot about how kids behave in the west – scary stuff). I have all I need in my Africa, I dont ever have to leave this continent. Keep believing what you want about us, it suits us just fine either way. We see you, we know you, we dont want to be you, because that will drastically reduce our moral fibre.

    November 30, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  153. Bigmama

    As a volunteer teacher in the Gambia (one of the poorest African countries), for 3rd consecutive time, as well as in Senegal and Tanzania I cannot agree that "Africa is backward". The point is, Africa is just different. The moral values in most of the communities I have worked in are much higher than in many European or American ones, I know because I have lived and worked there too. As everywhere else, you would find in Africa people who are good and people who are not, so it does not come from where u were born but WHO are you. Most Africans I've met, especially women, are hardworking, honest, friendly and generous beyond all. They will welcome any "toubab" or "mzungu" with their hearts "clean" and their friendship openly displayed in many ways that are unheard of in "civilized" West. They will share with you their last portion of rice, they will greet you as their own brother or sister and they will highly appreciate any help you can provide to improve their own lives, even if it is only an advice. The fact that so many Africans live in poverty and despair has nothing to do with Africans themselves. It is a "heritage" from long centuries of colonization, greediness and exploitation from us, "civilized" Westerners. Some of the things happening in Africa are horrible, there is corruption, there are wars, there is misery, there are diseases that have been swept out decades ago from Europe or North America, but those things are not uniquely African, they are the burden that homo sapiens brought on himself everywhere, since the dawn of the time. Instead of pointing to the "backwardness" of Africa, ask yourself just one question: "What can I do to help?" I know of many European teenagers who are "so tired" after finishing their high school that they "have to take a sabbatical leave" for at least 6 months in Canada, Australia, USA.... on their parent's expenses, of course! I urge the same parents to send their "tired" children for a few weeks in Africa, live with their African peers and see for themselves what is a HARD life. Maybe our children will understand it better then!!!

    December 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  154. davido

    I sell into Africa as part of my job, I am based in JHB RSA.

    Problems with Africa (incl RSA, yes we are also part of Africa) We always yapping on about you need more local partners/business practice etc and although local represntatives are important AFRICA MUST LEARN FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD, we/they are so focussed on converting business practice of other more advanced countries to their own, annoying practices. We are a stubborn continent that pretends to be othetwise. Having said that there are those who are dynamic enough to learn and accept and the pay off willl be there for them but there is a whole continents mindset we need to change. It's huge if you think about it. Bring on the new generation !

    On the actual question, Africa isnt backward, we fly from RSA direct to most countries up to Nigeria. Kenya airlines is correct in being annoyed by the comment made because they are in fact really good ! I prefer them to SAA !

    December 5, 2010 at 7:17 am |
  155. crusader

    lts foolish of anybody who potrays Africa as a country.If you people want to talk about africa,you name the country you are talking about so that we can compare it with any country of the world.None of you so called pale people refer to countries like cambodia,jemen or bangladesh as asia.Yet some african countries are far much better than those places. if you people dont know what to write in your god foresaking journals, please leave it blank than misleading people.We in africa are sick and tired of this double standard from the so called western shi? people.

    December 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  156. crusader

    Everything about Africa is being misrepresented. From inside africa to business.if there can be business for middle- east why not for east or west africa. pls enough is enough.

    December 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  157. wilma leysa

    please everybody who believe on the living with full of happiness and success...please stay out!!!! and please stay away on africa...please be on ur country and not be on the other country,,,jurnalist,,,reporters,tv presentators,,book writer,,pls,,,always remember write something true and please realize everything u will be write not to hurt any human being,,try not to effect every aspect of life,,pls,,,they are people who i believe that blessed by GOD...they are a happy and simple people that never know how to hurt others,,,,pls..be kind and good to every human and all living things on this world...

    December 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  158. WittyKitty

    I was once asked by a fellow student in a German University how we managed to be such good tree climbers given the roaming lions and elephants among whom we lived...and this was in 2003! That's misperception for you

    December 7, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  159. Mad About Africa

    Please, just leave Africa alone. We are simply growing at our own pace – and we love this pace. It affords us many luxuries, such as learning from our mistakes, learning from our history, learning to tolerate each other inter-tribally, learning to love our neighbours.

    I strongly belive that all the negative comments about Africa are inspired by Racism. I know that fact without a doubt. I am South African, I can smell racism a mile away!! We know how your racism can be subtle, and we know how violent it can turn too.

    Stop hating us for being black!! Dont deny it, you know thats what its about. Black Africa is just not expected to amount to anything! What a shame!! We are something. In my eyes, we are even somehting better, because of our forgiving nature. Each African believes that forgiveness is in their DNA. Of course most white South Africans think that our forgiving nature is a sign of weakness, a sign that we cannot make it on our own (without the "white" mind). But we can, my doctor is black, my accountant is black, so is my electrician, plumber, my president and my company CEO. But whether you like it or not, we are just as human as you are. We were created by the same Force you see. And if you didnt know, shocker of all shockers, He loves us all equally, and he despises hatred (including racism). I dont hate my neighbour, or the white Afrikaaner who calls us black people monkeys or useless. I cant hate what God has made. I am also very afraid that should I die with a spec of hatred in my heart, God will reject me as impure. I dont mean to be preachy, the truth is I dont even go to Church, but these are just common sense facts.

    Seriously now, get over yourselves, you are not in anyway superior. And dont allow that illusion of superiority to make you believe in anyway that Africa is backward.

    December 7, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  160. jonny

    iam from malawi and proud of it,ive lived both in europe and the us ,i can not be any happier than living in malawi.most of these countries (us-uk)still have a type of aotrcacy where only two parties are aloud to run the country boring politics ,come to africa see how interesting politics is,for the person on a us vessel you just a wast off space your is in africa even in malawi training and learning ,what are you doing in irak or afganstan .your country the us stinks more go to any major city ny or philly or camden or la oackland ca the all have that stench ,i bet your vessel stunk more than being on land..and to joe stay in europe stop visiting africa if you have such a bad expiriance .

    December 7, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
  161. jonny

    iam from malawi and proud of it,ive lived both in europe and the us ,i can not be any happier than living in malawi.most of these countries (us-uk)still have a type of aotrcacy where only two parties are aloud to run the country boring politics ,come to africa see how interesting politics is,for the person on a us vessel you just a wast off space your us solders embassies are in africa even in malawi training and learning ,what are you doing in irak or afganstan .your country the us stinks more go to any major city ny or philly or camden or la oackland ca the all have that stench ,i bet your vessel stunk more than being on land..and to joe stay in europe stop visiting africa if you have such a bad expiriance .

    December 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
  162. Blaise Buma

    Can Jews ever be too sensitive about antisemitism? At all times, they need to defend their Jewish identity.

    Africans are sensitive, but they can never be too sensitive. In fact, I claim they are not sensitive enough. In Washington and Lee University where I go to school, few Africans care about how students here, predominantly American, perceive Africa.

    What is happening is simple: the media, especially western media, paints a very biased image of Africa. So very few people in the West have a balanced perspective of Africa and most Africans think it is their duty to give them a balance that negative perception and debunk some of the negative stereotypes associated with the continent.

    Another problems is ignorance. Most are too ignorant they don't even know Africa is a continent. Even though most African countries have a better network penetration than the US, people would ask you questions such as, "are there cellphones in Africa?" , even though I have never seen a lion before, they ask, "do you see lions roaming the streets in Yaounde?", etc.

    As an African, I think it is my duty to give a balanced perspective of the continent. I think I have to explain to my American friends that Africa is not fighting a civil war. I have to tell them that less than 6 countries in Africa, out of 52 are involved in conflict. Therefore, I can never be too sensitive defending Africa.

    December 8, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  163. wilma leysa

    people who believe their faith are realy higher than any body? they are fool,stk stk,stk,,,,which country could not find some racism???? everyone pls sing this song,,,,"small world" this song will remaind us how GOD was happy to made us.but becoz we think our succes future are great but we does not know...."great success are our great distruction,,,so bad,,so bad,,,what made us true people in the eyes of GOD?? ask our self and u can find it,,,be fear to GOD and leave the africa alone,,,,people in africa are more blessed than any one of us,so we dont need to destroy them,,,and we have not rights to distroy them as same as we distroy our own self becoz of future succes,,its shame on us now how fast our world was change,,,,and i miss the way when the people are living in a simple way,,our days now are limits its becoz of the distruction we made,,i was personaly scared now for the next generation and sometimes i ask my self if the riches,progress,succes country will be distroyed???? wheres my children and grandchildren will hide to be safe??? nothing right?? so i was very very disapointed to someone who wants to distroy the land of africa,,pls stop anything wrong misconception about africa ok,,pls every one who tried to distroyed them self? just do it! pls leave the africa alone,,,for the GOD sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  164. wilma leysa


    December 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  165. baraSa

    I just watched a report by Robyn Curnow about Walmart's interest in E.Africa, mostly Kenya. The majority of the report was shot in a SLUM. I'm not rich, but I have never seen any of the schools, lifestyles & neighborhoods I grew up in covered in any report by either cnn or bbc – I mean do they mean to tell us that there isn't any other lifestyle apart from the slum life they show???. As a result, many here in Europe think we all lived in some slum like Kibera prior to coming here. Thanks to these kind of reporting, we are recepients of shunning and stereotyping.
    And for my dear brothers and sisters in Africa – believe you me, there are some areas abroad media wouldn't want you to see.....

    December 11, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  166. Sunny Emman Akin OLAMILOKUN

    The misperception about Africa has been on for years. In 1981 while on a military course in UK, a supposedly informed middle level officer had asked whether there was any university in Africa. As at that time, my country Nigeria could boast of more than 10 universities. It was obvious that the so called advanced economy have people who are not willing to learn about other places. They cover their ignorance by propagating incorrect information. This explains why the only time Africa is in the news, internationally is when there is one disaster or the other.
    It is high time the Western Media debunked the misconception of Africa being where people live on trees. Modern houses are prevalent in many African cities. Many Africans are pursuing global businesses and are contributing to the global economy. There is need to give them the credit and stop stereotyping.

    December 11, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
  167. Dennis Mwasalanga

    For Africa being backward its not a a sufficient reason that it deserves being misperceived. Most of the best , Africa is rich of precious cultures which benefits the World. who may stand and claim where would be the cultures of the World without Africa?
    Africa is a turning point for all cultures. Its here where everyone is welcomed and can live peacefully.

    Africa is a victim of Love. The continent loves all, as a result they misuse it. strangers are like careless children who despise their parents after they've grown up. it is nonsensical to despise a mother after you have became matured.

    In history point of view, africa is a source of other continents developmen. it is in here wher other would find themselves defined.

    Leaders in other way must be blamed to fail in refering to what made Africa to be misconcepted and the proper ways of healing our ruined land.

    ......Africa for the World, but sufficient for Africans...Tuachieni bara letu acheni kututusi.

    please strangers respect our land!

    December 12, 2010 at 6:43 am |
  168. jeje ibukun

    You see,let'us all look at the maps of the World.We ll then discover that it's only the African map that as a Gun-like shape with Nigeria(the Black largest country in the world) being at the trigger point of the gun-like map.Now aga in the World CIVILIZ ATION originated frm Africa(Egypt)even the Holy books recor gnise this.In recogn ition of all these African natural leadership of the wo rld,the West(Oyinbo s) re then worried nd fearful,hence using their Media we apons to destoy God' s own people wt all sorts of untrue news about Africa.For instance they(The West)call us“Coloure d Skin”people,but the truth is that who's the Coloured-skin”if not our Western propagandist s...Africa is GREAT, and WE(Africans)shall be slaves NO MORE to anyone-Proudly Afrika!!

    December 14, 2010 at 6:01 am |
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