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Monday, May 10, 2010

Separating Fact From Fiction: Are Some Stereotypes About "Africa" True?

Written By: MIM!—In the Spring 2010 article A Typical African Woman, writer Nana Bonsu challenged stereotypes about African women (and Africa more generally). She started, "Think Africa, think poverty stricken, famine ridden, war torn pit of despair." While we can think of African countries that do not fit any of these stereotypes, we cannot hide from the inescapable truth: this laundry list of stereotypes was born from tragic real-life events.

Think "poverty stricken," think Zimbabwe's claim to the title world's highest inflation rate in 2008. Think "war torn," think Rwanda's genocide in 1994. Think "famine ridden," think Ethiopia's famine in 1984-85. But after public outcries about the state of affairs in these countries, how much of this remains true today? Particularly in the case of Ethiopia's devastating famine, which happened over 25 years ago now? This year, two different production houses will be releasing films exploring this very question from very different perspectives. Take a look at the trailers below:

Ethiopia Teaser from REKO TV on Vimeo.

Love, Ethiopia - A documentary (teaser) from ReFocus Media on Vimeo.

To learn more about these films, visit and And tell us, are some stereotypes about "Africa" warranted today?


Myne Whitman said...

There are these things about stereotypes. They are usually true. The question is how far and how wide their reach is.

Anonymous said...

By definition a stereotype cannot always be true because it is a GENERALIZATION about a group based on observing a few. I think there are some countries that have gone through unfortunate situations, but that does not mean we can paint with a broad brush and assume those situations have plauged every other nation on the continent. We wouldn't assume that Europe is war torn because of the situation in the former Yugoslavia, why would it be ok to do that with Africa?