This is a massive issue. Once, in a small presentation at a school in Florida, I spoke about Uganda and my life therein. After finishing my small talk, I asked if there were any questions. Instantly, almost every hand rose. For the next half hour, I fielded questions from curious sixth graders, none of whom had even left the country.
Why is this a problem? Because every question they gave was slightly offending, and all are addressed in this post. The lack of African education in the United States is, quite frankly, concerning. So, to combat this massive blight of ignorance, here are the 7 most common misconceptions about Africa.
1: Lions roam in the backyard. This was literally the first question I received in that sixth-grade classroom. While lions may have been common to Uganda back in the 1900s, they have long since been either killed or placed in captivity. The only lions I have seen were in zoos, namely the Entebbe Zoo.
2: We live in trees. Again, while this may have been possible three hundred years ago, these are modern times. Anyone that is not homeless lives in a brick, mud, or concrete house. My little siblings have a tree house, but that doesn’t count. We, as a family, live in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house made of brick with an iron sheet roof.
3: Everybody is needy. While poverty is certainly a massive issue in both Uganda and the surrounding countries, it does not run nearly as rampant as many would have you think. Even the man selling chapatis (a type of tortilla) or underwear on the side of the road has enough money to carry a smartphone. Oh, there is most definitely need- a need for the Gospel. And poverty exists here, as it does in every country. But, remember that Uganda is not made up of poor people. There are still middle and upper-class citizens, as there are in the United States.
4: Missionaries are soft, doe-eyed people with signs hanging around their necks saying, “Take Me In!”. This is so far from the truth that it’s almost humorous. When the word missionary is said, two people come to mind immediately. The first, Christ Vogt, is a missionary in Chad with his wife and six kids. He is 6’4 and weighs well over 200 pounds- a massive man. The second is Jay Dangers, Director of New Hope Uganda and my dad’s boss. Jay has seen war, famine, drought, plague, and much, much more. When he first arrived in Uganda, gunshots were common at night and a bullet hole in the wall was normal. Jay is the kind of guy that, while driving, sees a sixteen-foot python in the road and drives over it again and again, injuring the snake and causing his wife to have a severe case of motion sickness. Missionaries are no joke. Don’t mess with them.
5: Everything is always hot, all the time. While this can seem to be true, especially to new missionaries during February, Uganda can actually stay quite cool. Even though I reside only a few dozen miles from the Equator, there are several months in which the average temperature is 70+ degrees Fahrenheit, which is quite pleasant. Granted, the coldest temperature I have ever seen in Uganda was 59 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the hottest I have ever seen was probably 98 degrees in the shade, which is probably similar to summer temperatures in the United States.
6: Bugs and snakes run rampant. Ladies, have no fear, there are no giant bugs or snakes here. While the occasional bug may sneak into the shower, or you might step on a stink-ant (inch-long ants that have a nasty bite), the odds of you getting bitten by a snake or finding a three-inch beetle are literally 1,000 to 1. Snake bites are relatively unheard-of, and three-inch beetles are not native to Uganda. My ministry, New Hope Uganda is guarded closely by men dedicated to the eradication of snakes. Thus, finding a snake in New Hope is almost as rare as finding gold (I may be exaggerating a tiny bit).
7: We have no technology or electricity. Uganda, while being a little behind on the times, does have technology. I often describe Uganda as a mix between “1800’s culture and 20th Century technology”. Even the old grandmothers way out in the middle of nowhere have smartphones and Twitter accounts. While many Ugandans used to read books or newspapers in bus stops or on trains, today every eye is glued to a screen. This is a problem but still proves that Uganda is chock-full of technology from the United States or China.
Hopefully, you have taken these seven facts to heart. If you somehow believed the opposite of what I have told you, I expect you to repent in sackcloth and ashes (kidding). Anyway, thanks so much for reading this post, and I hope you really enjoyed it! If you did enjoy it, make sure to click that ever-important “Follow” button, so as to not miss out on any new posts! Thanks again, and I hope you have a wonderful day.
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