Africa is often depicted as if it’s one big country instead of a continent. The continent itself calls images of Darkest Africa with jungles, savanna, diamond mines, undiscovered civilizations or creatures, elephants, lions, monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, pythons, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, leopards, hyenas, ostriches, crocodiles, antelopes, wildebeest, etc. Usually whenever people visit Africa they almost trip over all these omnipresent animals, which they invariably always encounter at a dangerous moment.
Bellow some Africa General Stereotypes
- Africans are generally assumed to an entire continent full of black people. If there are whites they are always Great White Hunter or Mighty Whitey: there are no other options. Apparently all the Coloreds, Indians, Asians, and all the rest of them have vanished overnight.
- In addition, it’s a common stereotype that all black Africans essentially look like West Africans, with none of the variety in phenotypes found in Europe or Asia. This stereotype is especially common in the US, because it’s assumed that all Africans look like African Americans, who are mostly descended from West Africans. As a result, East and Northeast African phenotypes in particular are extremely rare in depictions of black Africans.
- Most traditional images of Africa have their roots in colonial times (Ancient Africa). Black Africans are depicted as primitive, childlike, superstitious people who still worship idols, believe in witchcraft and voodoo and live in huts. They defend themselves with spears and shields. White colonists can easily trick them by selling them worthless junk in exchange for valuable items or scare them with modern technology.
- Pygmy tribes are usually small, pathetic little dwarfs who are depicted as if they are actually children.
- Black African tribes are often portrayed as if they are cannibals who put every stranger in a large black cauldron.
- Other stereotypical images are the woman with a lip plate in her mouth or a man with a bone sticking through his nose.
- Stereotypical female black African depictions include the bare-breasted woman with large hanging breasts and enormous buttocks (examples of this stereotype are the 19th century sideshow attraction Saartjie Baartman and Robert Crumb’s comic strip character Angelfood Mcspade) or the woman who wears multiple rings around her giraffe-like neck. . Note this type of neck ornament is also common in Burma with women from the Kayan tribe, but is generally associated with Africa.
- More modern stereotypical images of black Africans are the starving little child (very popular in advertising campaigns) and the Idi Amin-like dictator.
- Also, a common image is the mother with multiple starving kids with flies swarming all over them, probably in some sort of refugee camp or hospital.
- All Africans speak Pidgin English in popular fiction or talk in sentences like: “Me very afraid, bwana!”
- All African countries are constantly torn apart by tribal warfare between ill-disciplined thugs wielding machetes and AK-47’s and committing genocide. This trope is usually thought of as applying specifically to sub-Saharan Africa (except for South Africa, which is run by that nice Mr. Mandela if it’s a recent depiction, or by might-as-well-be Nazis if it’s before 1990 or so).
- Even other black Africans counsel you to have nothing to do with Nigerians as the country is viewed as irredeemably corrupt and criminal. This is probably an exaggeration, although it is true Nigeria is the point of origin of the vast majority of so-called Code 419 email scams (where you might receive, out of the blue, an email from a former finance officer who needs your help in getting several million out of Africa…)
BBC radio presenter Sarah Kennedy, a woman renowned for being forty years behind the times and a throwback to an earlier England, got into serious trouble for repeating, on air, two stereotypical depictions of Black Africans. She asked, in the run-up to an Olympic Games: “Why are black Africans such good runners? Answer – lions; and why are Black Africans such poor swimmers? Answer: crocodiles.”
Africans of any nationality are ostensibly lacking in beat ’em up videogames, especially as this medium is usually presented as some sort of tournament involving fighters from “all over the world”. This often leads to cries of ignorance and prejudice in fan-forums. Asian, American and European characters make up the lion’s share of characters and in the main beat ’em up series, Street Fighter’s Elena, a native of Kenya, is one of the few African fighters depicted. The reason for this (rightly or wrongly) is twofold:
Hollywood Atlas: Firstly, there is the stereotype/misbelief that Africa is just one big country, not a continent full of countries. Beat ’em ups rely heavily on exploiting well-known National Stereotypes when presenting characters (especially the pioneering Street Fighter series), and for many people, African culture, iconography and the multitude of nationalities therein all blend into one big melange, which Elena, as a Savannah-dwelling, Masaii-inspired Kenyan covers off nicely. It’s far easier to design characters from Japan, China, England and Italy etc, because there are such distinct, iconically familiar, universally recognizable national character/appearance traits that can be referenced and parodied for these countries — put simply, most of the game-buying public could not tell the difference between Kenyan and Tanzanian culture, so there’s no real need (again, rightly or wrongly) to present a character from each country. This very article page evidences this — the list of stereotypes for the African section is much smaller than the US or countries in Europe, for example.