As I get older I find myself yelling at the television more and more. There are the obvious reasons—understandably just the sight of certain politicians brings it on. I also often yell when people say everythink when they mean everything, Febuary instead of February, and infared instead of infrared. (Can’t they hear themselves?).
But this is by the by. My beef here is when people say ‘Africa’ as if it were a country. This is often found in American TV shows and movies, but Australians are not immune. Many times I have heard that someone is from ‘Africa’ or that someone is going on holiday to ‘Africa’ or is returning from working in ‘Africa’. Case in point—Thandie Newton in the film Flirting is described as coming from ‘Africa’.
This is just demeaning for a whole continent and its peoples. There are 47 countries on the African mainland and a further 6 island nations. It is 7,248 km long and 7,009 km wide. It ranges from Cape Town at latitude 33° S to Algiers at 36° N. Climates vary from desert to rainforest and from equatorial to temperate. Each country has its own racial groups, culture and topography. So someone from Africa may be a Tuareg from Algeria or a pygmy from Namibia, a Muslim from Egypt or a white South African.
Do they think we are too ignorant to comprehend the statement ‘he’s from Malawi’? Or ‘she’s been holidaying in Senegal’? We deserve better, Africa deserves better and Africans deserve better.
I look forward to an improvement in this area.
IAN BATTERHAM, CANBERRA
Editor's note: this topic is really too serious for CRANK, in that this piece could be published in a reputable newspaper or phoned in to a respected talk-back radio show and no one would think you were weird. Except maybe for the first paragraph.