By Ruth Ogechi Udeh, Summer Times Staff Writer

Africa happens to be one of the continents most people have misconceptions about. Surprisingly, Africa is just like every other continent with people from different countries with their distinct cultures, accents, languages, food and dressing style.

“Africa is not what the media portrays it to be,” said Michael Mitchell, 17, from Tema, Ghana in Soule Hall. “It is a region filled with happy people, not people suffering all over.”

Theodore Quarcoopome, 15, from Jamestown, Ghana, living in Main Street expatiates on this by saying “Africa is pretty much like the rest of the world in the sense that it has it’s own history, sense of community and togetherness. Africans are pretty much like everyone else in the world. There is no difference especially. For the most part, Africans are hospitable.”

When most Africans were asked about the first thing that comes to mind with Africa, a particular answer was the most recurring. “Africa is home,” said Shanelle Snowden, 15, from Jamestown, Ghana, in Amen Hall.

When we are asked what it means to be African, the obvious answer is someone from an African country or with African heritage. However, there is much more to this. Being African lies in our ability to showcase our cultural heritage wherever and whenever. Africa is beauty.

“Being African means to be proud,” said Hajira Ahmed Hussein, 17, from Hargeisa Somaliland, in Dunbar Hall. “When someone says ‘Africa,’ to me, it means I should be proud to say I am from Africa. Even though the country I specifically come from is not developed yet, I am still proud of how far we have come. You just have to believe that you are African. This is basically your identity and no matter what you do, you can’t lose your identity.”

Faith Okunubi, 16, from Lagos, Nigeria, in Dunbar Hall believes “Being African, to me, is buried up in the culture, learning languages, customs and traditions.”

As a child growing up in an African community, you are expected to know how to speak your local dialect, cook local dishes, learn your traditional dances and songs, take care of a home and your younger siblings and be independent. Faith is convinced without doubt that “Anyone who calls themselves African without rhythm [at] all is not to be considered an African in the first place.”

Being respectful is crucial for an African. This includes respect for both young and old. In Africa, being disrespectful is a taboo. Growing up in a Nigerian community, you don’t give or collect things using the left hand. It is considered to be highly disrespectful. Also, you must greet your elders, kneeling as a girl or prostrating as a boy, as many times as you see them in a day as a sign of respect.

Africans are fun, vibrant, loud and happy people. The presence of an African is always felt.

“Don’t underestimate Africa as a continent,” said Bube Osaji, 15, from Lagos, Nigeria, in Amen Hall. “We are full of very bright people.”

When people were asked which misconceptions they want to clear about Africa, certain answers repeatedly came up. Answers like: “we are a continent not a country”; “we are not poor”; “we don’t live in huts and trees”; “we live in houses”; “we don’t see zebras and animals everyday”; “we drive cars”; “we have airports”; “we are educated”; were most recurring.

An African at heart would like to leave this message to the world out there.

“I would like the world know that they shouldn’t compare Africa to other continents,” said Hajira. “We shouldn’t compare African success to other continents. Africa has come a long way and it has a long way to go. We shouldn’t say because this continent has done a lot of things, why shouldn’t Africa do this? We should just accept Africa the continent by itself and we shouldn’t compare it to other continents.”