Hey CBS, Africa is still not a country

Any person who was born in one of the countries on the African continent and who has traveled out of it knows the struggle.

“Where are you from?”

“South Africa.”

“Oh! Africa!”

Yeah, but the country that’s on the most southern part of it. As in, separate to all the other countries on the second largest continent.


I’ve recently started watching Zoo, a CBS-produced series that tells the story of animals, after enduring abuse from humans over many centuries, finally fight to take the world back. Of course, no story about animal power would be complete without the spotlight on animals on the majestic continent of Africa. One of Africa’s selling points is its wild beauty.

The show takes the time to mention that one of the particular locations where things starts to go wild (wink face) in particular is Botswana. Let me just reiterate that we’ve established that this is the particular country where some of our main characters, Jackson Oz and Abraham Kenyatta, are running around in.

Jackson Oz and Abraham Kenyatta, two of the main characters from Zoo, crouching in the wilderness of Botswana.

Why then, Netflix, must we refer to Botswana as ‘Africa’? Why must Abraham Kenyatta, a character that is Batswana (that is, a native of Botswana), refer to himself as ‘African’ when he travels around the world (in the plot)? I don’t know a single person who does that. We refer to our nationality – the country we come from.

If someone comes from Spain, you’d then introduce them as Spanish. If someone comes from Norway, you’d  introduce them as Norwegian. If someone comes from Russia, you’d introduce them as Russian. If someone comes from Brazil, you’d then introduce them as Brazilian. You get what I mean. Why doesn’t this pattern extend to anyone from Nigeria or Ghana or Namibia or Kenya or Cameroon or Mozambique?

I have a big problem with the way the Western world still considers Africa is to be this wild mass of land, void of original and unique cultures. We are all just blended into one group; there does not seem to be some effort to recognise the (in some cases, vast) differences that make Africa such an extraordinary place to explore. I am still going to be a tourist when I travel around the rest of Africa, because there is an amazing amount of it I don’t even know that I don’t know.

How the world apparently sees Africa.


What Africa is like – majestic, but diverse.

I think that when media companies attempt to depict any corner of Africa in their movies or TV shows, they should find out how the ‘locals’ would talk about their countries. Because I don’t know any South African who answer ‘Africa’ when asked where they’re from. Unless we have taken the time to visit it, we probably can’t tell you much about the other side of Africa, but we can tell you about what it’s like waking up within our borders.


[Feature image source: wikipedia.org



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