Africa is often spoken about in monolithic platitudes, as if it’s a single country rather than a huge continent made up of more than 50 countries. As if it’s broad swath of land doesn’t encompass numerous climates, cultures, styles of government, and histories. What’s confounding about our collective lack of knowledge about Africa is the reality of our deep and fraught relationship with the continent and its people. Without Africa, America doesn’t exist as we know it today.
The president of Monroe County Community College hopes he can help “Demystify Africa” for his students. Dr. Kojo Quartey is giving a lecture on that very subject as a kick-off to the school’s Black History Month discussions.
Quartey joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss common misconceptions about Africa that exist even as high as the White House. He says President Trump’s comments about African countries are about more than the physical state of the countries.
“When the president made those unflattering comments about Africa, he didn’t (only) make those comments about Africa, but Africa and African people.”
Quartey also tackles misconceptions about African immigrants. He says that despite what the president’s comments might have you think, a significant percentage of immigrants have received higher education.
“Fifty-seven percent of all Nigerians, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, already have a bachelor’s degree,” he says. “Fifty-seven percent of South Africans, 44 percent of Kenyans, 40 percent of Ghanaians, 32 percent of Liberians come here already with a degree in hand, to help develop this nation.”
He also dispels a variety of misconceptions about Africa, ranging from people’s view of Africa as one country, to the idea of Africa as full of huts and villages.
Click on the audio player above for the full conversation.