I am an avid traveler and like most travelers, I enjoy taking photos of the places I visit as a reminder of what I saw and experienced. When I returned from a trip to South Africa, a friend remarked that she was surprised because my pictures didn’t look like they were of “Africa.” There were two things that caught me off guard by that statement. First, what is Africa supposed to look like and secondly, what part of “Africa” is she referring to.
Of course I say this already knowing the answer. She expected some safari image, swollen bellied babies and thatch-roofed huts. Instead, she saw my pictures outside a Westin in the middle of high rises in downtown Cape Town or with friends in Soweto outside their middle class home, that easily could have been in any city in America. She saw my picture on North Beach in Durban and wondered if I was in Los Angeles or Miami.
Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book.
~ excerpt from Binyavanga Wainana’s,“How to Write About Africa”
We could blame the media, but we have to also hold ourselves accountable. Continue reading