Friday, February 1, 2019
Africa for beginners
AFRICA FOR BEGINNERS
Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent in the world, made up of 54 countries.
It is also the oldest, and it is thought that human species originated there.
There are over a thousand languages spoken across different countries in Africa including Swahili, French, Yoruba, Arabic and Portugese.
The most spoken language is English.
Most sub Saharan Africans are dark skinned but there are around 5 million white Africans in South Africa alone, mostly of European origin.
The most popular religions are Christianity, Islam and Traditional religions which vary vastly across different countries.
Traditional clothing styles are diverse but tend to be made of brightly coloured, rich textiles worn with crafted jewellery or bold natural stones such as coral.
These are usually worn for special occasions such as weddings or festivals and can be extremely glamourous and flamboyant, such as the traditional wedding guest attires amongst Yorubas in Nigeria.
Everyday dressing however is similar to clothes worn in the summer months in the UK.
Africa's economy is based largely on agriculture and trade, with some countries rich in natural resources like crude oil.
Most of the food eaten in Africa is locally sourced with very low levels of imported food. Again the variety is huge across the continent. Starchy foods alongside meats and sauces is common.
More recently, in Nigeria for example, the entertainment and fashion industries have grown significantly, gaining international recognition for their music, movies and clothes designs.
Unfortunately, the potential for economic growth in many parts of Africa has been hindered by corruption and political unrest leading to uneven distribution of wealth, with widespread lack of welfare systems creating extremes of wealth and poverty.
Recent and ongoing development in the private sector is aimed at narrowing the gap.
There is also huge disparity in levels of formal education with some countries having only 60% of school-age children in school, whilst a country like Zimbabwe has an overall literacy of 92%. Education is still based on mostly British and American systems.
Sadly, many educated Africans migrate to western countries for better and more stable financial opportunities.
Modern technology systems and internet access is widely available in most towns and cities.
Road travel in cars and buses are the most common form of transportation. Many cities have dual carriageways with motorways between cities. Although there are brands of cars manufactured in Africa, most vehicles are imported.
The climate in Africa varies from hot and dry in the northern desert regions, to warm and humid in the sub-Saharan and Southern countries. Prolonged and heavy rainfall is common in the Tropical rainforest zones. Temperatures rarely drop below 16 degrees Celsius even in the coldest months. This makes it ideal for people who want to escape the cold winters in Europe.
Popular holiday destinations in Africa include Cape Verde, Marrakech in Morocco, Seychelles, Egypt, Nairobi in Kenya and Cape Town in South Africa.
Wildlife safaris are a popular tourist attraction in some parts of Africa like Tanzania and Kenya.
Most animals are found in nature reserves and forests, not usually in dwelling areas.
Contrary to popular impression, many people I know, living in the UK, who grew up in Africa have only ever seen Giraffes and Hippopotamuses in places like Chester and London zoos.