Visiting “Africa”

People assume and learn certain things about “Africa” from society and predispositions in the United States, but I find many of these “facts” to be unfairly assumed or slightly ridiculous. When I decided to study abroad in Botswana, I kept saying I am going to study abroad in AFRICA! Well, guess what guys? I wasn’t able to visit every place on the continent. I did visit five countries in Southern Africa, but I find when people ask, “How is Africa?” I want to tell them well, my time in Botswana is great, and I am not sure that I can generally speak for all of Africa. So here are some facts that I think are important to note:

1. Africa is a continent not a country
2. There are many things in Botswana that do not pertain to the whole continent
3. “African” encompasses SO MUCH
4. We do not say yea I’m going to North America!

I have talked to my program director about this specific topic, and she agrees that people generalize the whole continent too much, but I grapple with this issue because people from Botswana do it too! Multiple Batswana have said, “I hope you enjoy Africa” or things similar in nature. Is this their doing or their acceptance of the Western view of grouping the whole continent together? I don’t know, but I do know Africa is the second largest continent, and we need to give it the distinctions it deserves.

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