Africa is a prosperous and varied place. It comprises more than 1,500 languages and 16 percent of the world’s population. To better understand the breadth of this diversity, let us explore 5 myths about Africa:
Myth 1: Africa Is a Country
People often refer to Africa as a single country when it is in fact made up of 54 different countries. Each of these countries is distinct in culture, customs, language, natural environment, politics, history, and size as well as has their own currency, flag, national anthem, food, and identity. Misconceptions of Africa often include the belief that it is its own country or made up of only a few countries. The continent of Africa is vast, and it is the second-largest continent in the world. The people of Africa’s countries speak a great variety of languages, Arabic being the most popular with about 170 million speakers. Besides Arabic, the people of Africa speak English, Swahili, French, Portuguese, Spanish and many more languages. About 25 percent of the languages spoken in African countries are not recognized anywhere else in the world, which is a testament to its diversity and fullness.
Myth 2: It is Always Hot in Africa
Southern and East Africa typically claim fantastic weather. Like any country, there are generally four seasons and weather variations across a range of landscapes. In Southern Africa, you will experience a hot/warm summer, a cool and temperate autumn and spring, and a cooler winter in June, July and August. Snow falls in some of the mountainous regions, like Drakensburg, Lesotho, regions of Western Cape. And while the mornings and evenings can get cold (0°C or 32°F, sometimes colder), the days are beautiful and warm up to the late teens and even early 20’s (or mid 60s to low 70s in Fahrenheit). Closer to the equator, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania experience fewer extreme seasons. June, July and August (their winter months) can still be chilly in the morning and at night, especially at high altitudes. Otherwise, you can expect warm to hot weather and a rainy season.
Myth 3: Dangerous animals roam free
In rural/remote villages and towns, you may see some chickens or cows or other livestock grazing around the town but not wildlife. In some of the coastal areas like Durban and Cape Town and just outside some reserves you might come across a vervet monkeys or baboons running around looking for food. There have been reports of leopards living in remote, mountainous areas taking livestock from neighbouring farms but it would be highly unlikely that you’d ever encounter one of those. But, for the “big 5” you’ll only see them in national parks and game reserves.
Myth 4: Africa is just about Safaris
Yes, Africa does boast the best wildlife sighting in their natural environment but there are also the magnificent savannahs in some regions of Africa, vibrant cities, idyllic beaches, talented artists (street art, wood carvings, bead work, sculptures) ‘historic ancient monuments and landmarks (Apartheids Museum, Robben Island, Kigali Genocide Memorial). One region of Africa is not the same to another making it an perfect destination to explore! Africa is far more than a safari! Don’t just scratch the surface; dig deep and discover the cultures, history, and people that make Africa such an incredible destination.
Myth 5: It is unsafe to visit Africa
It is always recommended to take customary precautions when visiting a country that is foreign to you. One of the most common myths about traveling to Africa is that it is not safe. As with many destinations, there are areas that should be avoided and situations where you should take precaution. However, these instances should not stop you from visiting all the other incredible countries that Africa has to offer. And no matter where you travel in the world, you should always be aware of your surroundings, use your common sense, be vigilant with your belongings and valuables, and take local advice on any areas to avoid.