Thursday, March 10, 2016

Is it any wonder why Africa is called the Dark Continent?

Stanley - Thursday

I have, unfortunately, spent much of the past week visiting the toilets of the Western Cape.  Some wayward bug invaded my body and wreaked havoc with my internals.  So I ask your forgiveness as I offer as my post this week a reprise of one I wrote several years ago.  
Those of you who know me, know that I think most people in the west have, at best, a wrong opinion of Africa and, at worst, a biased or racially tainted view of the continent.
I hope this little piece helps to provide some useful information.


I want to start off today with a little quiz.  Nobody is going to see your answers, except yourself, so you can cheat.  Seriously, take a few minutes to write down your answers.

First, the difficult ones:

1.  How many countries are in Africa?

2.  What are they?  Which is the biggest; which is the smallest?

3.  What is the population of Africa?

4.  What is the predominant religion in Africa?

5.  Which country in Africa has a biggest industrial output?

Now some easy ones:

6.  If the southern tip of Africa has a latitude of X degrees south, what city on the west coast of north America (Mexico, USA, Canada) would be X degrees north?  What city in Europe is X degrees north?

7.  What city in south America is about X degrees south?

8.  How many miles (kms) is it from southern most point in Africa to the northern most point?

9.  How many miles (kms) is it from the western most point in Africa to the eastern most point?

And two interesting ones:

10.  What percentage of Africa is covered by desert?

11.  What animal kills the most people in Africa?

12.  Other than Wilbur Smith and Nelson Mandela, name 5 black African authors and 5 non-black African authors.

Of course I thought of giving you the answers next week, but I won’t. Where appropriate, they are given below the photos from Africa.

Pyramids at Giza


Temple of Karnak

100-tonne obelisk at Karnak

Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu

Ruins of the Greater Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe

The Smoke that Thunders - Victoria Falls

Mozambique beach

Table Mountain - soon to be my backyard

African rainforest

Lanzerac Wine Estate near Cape Town
Wildebeest migration in Serengeti

Mongoose Lemur
Ring-tailed Lemur (National Geographic)

Baby Cheetah (Stan Trollip)

Giraffe (Stan Trollip)

Zebra  (Stan Trollip)

A Kubu  (Aron Frankental)

Another Kubu (Aron Frankental)

African Fish Eagle  (Stan Trollip)

Lilac Breasted Roller  (Stan Trollip)

Lion resting after sex  (Stan Trollip)

Leopard on Impala kill (Stan Trollip)

I'm keeping my eye on you
Elephant in Chobe National Park, Botswana (Stan Trollip)

So here are the answers:

1.  There are 54 independent countries in Africa.

2.  It is easier for you to go to the following URL to see what the countries are:  The biggest is Algeria (barely beating out The Democratic Republic of the Congo) at 2,381,740 sq. kms.  The smallest are the island countries of the Seychelles at 451 sq. kms and theDemocratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe at 964 sq. kms.  The smallest country on the mainland of Africa is The Gambia at a little over 10,000 sq. kms. 

Note 1: 1 sq. mile = 2.6 sq. kms.

Note 2:  The USA is about 9,827,000 sq. kms.

3.  1.03 billion people live in Africa (2011)

4.  Islam is the largest religion with 47% of Africa’s population being believers.  Christianity is second.

5.  I couldn’t find convincing data as to which country has a biggest industrial output, but I think it is South Africa.

6.  Los Angeles is as far north as Cape Town is south ( 34 degrees).  The only European country that is 34 degrees north is Greece, and then only just.  The Island of Crete is about that far north, so Heraklion would have to be the answer.

7.  Buenos Aires is about 34 degrees south.  The tip of south America is about 55 degrees south, or about 1,500 miles (about 2,500 kms) south of the southern tip of Africa.

8.  Africa as about 5,000 miles (8,000 kms) north to south.

9. Africa is about 4,600 miles (7,400 kms) east to west.

10.  About a third of Africa is desert.  The Sahara is about the size of the USA.

11.  The mosquito is the most dangerous animal in Africa.  The hippo is the most dangerous mammal.  But be careful of the Nile crocodile.

12.  I am going to leave it to you to explore Africa’s rich literary talent.

Most westerners have little knowledge of Africa.  I hope this helped to lighten the Dark Continent a bit. 

Of course, I think that Africa is seen as dark because westerners try to look at it with their eyes shut.


  1. Well said! Africa is such a beautiful and diverse continent. I am fascinated by it and only regret that I have only been so far to South Africa and that's it. But plan to visit more.

  2. OH, NO!!! I am so sorry for this news. I hope you are completely well soon. Though I am heartily sorry for the reason why, as far as I am concerned, you cannot repost these gorgeous pictures too often. I'll be there to celebrate our birthdays next March!

  3. Get better soon dear pal. Plenty and rest and recuperation. And I will argue with you re the dangerous one, what about that Homo Sapiens, he can be a bit nasty when he gets going. I think I said that last time as well!!!

  4. Are you going to visit us, Annamaria? That's wonderful news!

    1. Yes! That's my plan, Michael. March is my and Stan's birthday month. I can't think of better place to celebrate.

  5. I hope you're feeling better, my friend, by the time I got around to taking your test again... and failing miserably once again. Ahh, will I ever learn from my mistakes?

  6. I hope you're feeling better, my friend, by the time I got around to taking your test again... and failing miserably once again. Ahh, will I ever learn from my mistakes?