BOOM! Click on the picture to read about how skewed our global maps are. With a continent that big, how can it all be the same?
While I believe there is a cultural side of pan-Africanism (in the sense that there are commonalities and overlap due to early nomads and migration, and a tangible brotherhood between many enlightened people based solely on the fact that they are Africans), there are extremely diverse cultures existing all over the continent.
Morocco, for instance, is essentially completely Islamic. Deserts stretch over a vast majority of the country and it has a population that many of our untrained eyes would consider "vaguely Middle Eastern". Oh, and couscous. Lots of couscous.
These photos are from my badass friend Abbey who is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Tata, Morocco. You can get more insight into her life and experience with Moroccan culture here.
Zambia, on the other hand, is constitutionally Christian. It also boasts a beautiful tropical climate, is full of black babes, and upon visiting you will eat copious bowls of mealie-meal. Mealie-meal wishes it was couscous.
These photos were ruthlessly stolen from the internet. I know it's an extreme example, but they're clearly different countries, right? Thank you.
These contrasting lifestyles exist from North to South, East to West and are often right next to one another within the borders of a country (thank you, Berlin Conference). This causes chaos and conflict because as much pan-African love as you see, there is xenophobic ignorance and religious opposition at every turn. Sooo not the stuff of one singular community!
Ignoring the wonderful differences within and between each country not only belittles their national identities, but it perpetuates and validates the ignorance that Western society has subjected them to since their varied beginnings. Now, I think it's safe to say that no one who dreams of someday, "going to India, Brazil and Africa" actually THINKS Africa is one nation, but you don't know the damage your words do to the global perspective on the region (Plus, you sound silly and then it gets awkward when I ask you where exactly in Africa you want to go and you say you "have no idea, on a safari or something"). It's bad enough that so many media sources give us an overarching image of the poor and starving African, but if we continue to assign this singular identity to an entire continent, we're no better. Let's use this wonderful thing called the internet to educate ourselves and those around us and be mindful of our words. It doesn't cost nearly as much as a plane ticket. BBC posts awesome country profiles, or you can Google it! You can do just about anything, but don't ask me what Africa is like.