By Oluwasegun Akinola
My name is Segun which means Victor in English. People could tell that I am an African by the sound of my name and accent. Whenever I am around people, they begin to ask questions about Africa. For example, someone asked me “do you walk around naked in Africa?” Another person asked me “do you live in huts at Africa?” Whenever people ask me these questions, I laugh it off. This shows that these are the stereotypes people of other races have about Africa. They didn’t know what the life in Africa looks like because they got these stereotypes from movies and internet sources. As an African, I want to contrast the good life I had in Africa with the stereotypes of my homeland.
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria in West Africa. Lagos is one of the biggest and busiest places in Africa. It is filled with airports, hotels, restaurants, and some industries. I was raised by my parents in a town that is filled with big houses and business areas. Countries outside Africa even have business and vacation sectors in Lagos. When I grew up, I visited amusement parks, beaches and I traveled around Africa. In schools, the teachers thought us regular subjects. I also learned English language. We speak British English as our first language along with our traditional languages. Nigeria has more than 200 tribes; each tribe has its own language and dialect. For example, I am a Yoruba, my friend, Stanley is Igbo, and we have more tribes like the Deltas and the Efiks. In addition, the Nigerian governments are working on bringing some advanced technologies in order to make the country better. Nigeria is not the only advanced country in Africa; there are countries like South Africa, Ghana, Tunisia, Togo and other countries that are advancing.
When I was 14, I moved to United States in order to start a new life with my mother. I wanted to explore the culture of Americans. Some months later, I started at a school that has a population of few immigrants. People of other races came to me and they asked me questions about Africa; they also began to make jest. One person asked, “Do you ride elephants in Africa?” While I was trying out for the soccer team, the team captain said “how come you are so fast, have you ever chased a cheetah before?” Whenever someone with an African accent talks in class, another person makes a clicking sound with his tongue; he mimicked the African by acting as if the African is talking to an animal. All these stereotypes were funny to me, but some people stereotyped us in a disrespectful manner. Some of my African colleagues felt bad about the stereotypes, while some denied about being an African. I decided to motivate them to be happy with themselves because they can never change their race; also, they shouldn’t pay attention to the stereotypes.
In conclusion, every race is stereotyped. Africa-Americans are stereotyped as murderers, rapists, thieves and the spreaders of diseases like HIV/AIDS. Mexicans and Latinos are stereotyped as illegal immigrants. Arabs and Muslims are stereotyped as terrorists. People are entitled to the stereotypes that they got from the things that they saw in movies and online articles. They haven’t seen the real life in Africa. Life in Africa is the same as living in America except for having people with different language and dialect. The rural and urban parts in Africa and America look alike. In my opinion, the stereotypes are based on the history of Africa. Africa is not the same place like it was a million years ago. A lot of things have changed in Africa. I like to encourage people to read books that African authors wrote in order to get some knowledge about Africa. Finally, Africa is simply a beautiful continent not a place of old civilization.