You know what really bothers me? When I’m at the DMV and someone tries to have a conversation with me.
More irritating than that, however, is when people refer to Africa as a country. As someone who has family in Africa, (specifically, Egypt) it baffles me every time I hear it on the news, on a TV show, in a movie, in a song. How difficult is it to open up a map of Africa and pick one of the 54 countries there to set your location?
Here are 6 times that it’s made my skin crawl when I’ve heard Africa be referred to as a country, and my very simple solutions for fixing it.
1. Mean Girls
Public school n00b Cady Heron has been homeschooled all her life because her parents are “research zoologists who have spent the last few years in Africa.” Okay, so maybe her parents did quite a bit of moving around in Africa, but it’s hard for me to believe they moved throughout all 54 countries. They could even just specify a region here: Central Africa, West Africa, North Africa, East Africa, South Africa?
I’m assuming that since her mother is a professor she probably specifies in a certain species or migration pattern, and that species probably resides in a specific region. Let me help you rephrase your narration, Cady:
“We’re completely normal, except for the fact that both my parents are research zoologists and we’ve spent the last years in the Serengeti, in parts of Tanzania and Kenya.”
2. The Lion King
They actually only say the word “Africa” once in the entire movie, which is impressive for a film that basically invented the way children born in 1990 and beyond perceive Africa. The location of the movie is the “Pridelands,” which I’m assuming are savannas, perhaps in the Serengeti? Though it’s still a bit vague.
Though it’s still a bit vague.
Apparently to gain inspiration for the film the crew headed to Hell’s Gate National Park in Kenya. Why couldn’t the film have mentioned “Pridelands of Kenya”? (Also screw the article that I found that talked about the trip because they say interchange “Africa” and “Kenya” like 6 times even though they know it was inspired by Kenyan wildlife!)
3. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
In this 1995 film, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective needs to find a sacred bat of the Wachati people in some fictional location in that big huge continent Africa. Now, I see the filmmakers’ reasons for making it a fictional location with a fictional people, they can be as offensive as they want without actually offending anyone because these people don’t exist, right? Still, the fact that he’s doing something nature related in Africa already comes with its own set of implications.
Perhaps the film could be set in South Africa? Apparently, there are 75 species of bats there. Sounds like the perfect location.
Sounds like the perfect location.
4. People who study abroad in “Africa”
I noticed a necklace that my white coworker was wearing. It was an outline of the African continent. I asked her where she got it from. She said she studied abroad in Africa and bought it while she was there.
So that means she spent at least one semester in a country in Africa, living, studying, eating, and she failed to see the difference between that country and the entire continent?
Or perhaps she actually did study abroad in all 54 countries. Maybe she attended one lecture in each country.
I asked her where in Africa. She replied South Africa. You could have said that from the beginning but you just like to watch my blood boil, dontcha?
5. Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies”
An old song, I know. But it still bothers me to this day. WHICH SKY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT PAUL SIMON? I’m assuming you know that Africa is a continent because you say “skies,” suggesting that perhaps the skies are above several regions, several countries, several cities?
Which sky are you talking about exactly when you say “African sky”? Do you mean a Libyan sky? Or a Kenyan sky? Or maybe a Somali sky? TELL US, PAUL.
Now that we’re done with the disaster portion of this post. Let’s focus on the one show that does it right:
1. The Wild Thornberrys
A show for children is more geographically correct than any of the above examples plus many news outlets. Each episode begins with a map of the world, zooms into a specific continent, then country, then region/city/natural park to give you the exact location of where the Thornberrys are in the episode.
Hats off to Nickelodeon for doing some research and using an actual map to educate our nation’s children that AFRICA IS NOT A COUNTRY.