Why does the continent of Africa intrigue me? The answer is its exotic aurora, namely, its animals and natural lands. Hippos staring out of murky water charm me as to the mysteries of wildlife.The Democratic Republic of the Congo fascinates me simply because of the Congo River streaming through steamy jungle. This kind of setting causes me to fantasize about adventure; I would have to thank books such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines for engendering this feeling. In regards to literature about Africa, I have also read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan of the Apes, and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. The more I read about Africa, the more interested I become.
And yet, when I try to learn about Africa in the academic world, the discussion is somewhat different. The focus becomes the subjugation and exploitation of the African peoples. Though I do not doubt that in many ways, economically especially, Africans have had a dark history with Europeans, I often feel as if the discussion is unnecessary. It seems too hyped for its own good. In other words, I feel as if people worry too much about issues of “inequality” in Africa. They don’t focus on what’s positive about Africa. But then I guess that’s the point: there isn’t. Yet, is that not “racist” of me to say? Surely there are important things about the continent.
What have I learned about Africa?
Well, for starters, there’s the fact that Africa has a wild climate situation. In northern and southern Africa, the weather tends to be quite hot and humid. Yet in the middle where the Congo lies, rainfall can become so intense that banks will flood. Farmers have a difficult time adjusting to these situations. Despite the fact that Europeans offer their technological advances, some Africans choose to remain in these situations for personal reasons. Some tribes believe it to be their religious duty to live off the land.
Another fact is that there are vital minerals in the Congo responsible for composing a lot of the technology Americans use on a daily basis. There are certain metals that compose cells phones and ipads. Africa is the only place that holds such materials. Plus, there is ivory, which, though illegal to carry, played a large economic role in the nineteenth century. Some elephant populations have gone almost extinct due to poachers searching for ivory tusks worth thousands.
Religiously, we tend to think that Africans only host primitive religions separate from the three major ones: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Historically, even before Christianity arrived with the Europeans, Islam had a strong cultural base in the region, especially in places such as Egypt and Mali. It is not a mistake to know that religious feuds often occurred between Christianity and Islam in Africa, not including the Middle East. At least that’s what I think.
That’s all for now. Hopefully, I’ll be able to learn much more about this continent and more fully grasp how its role has shaped world events and what natural phenomenon lie inside its borders. I’m sure I will. I may even go on to write about it or adopt my own fictional spin on it as some of my favorite authors have done.