'Africa is not a country': Students' photo campaign breaks down stereotypes
By Teo Kermeliotis, for CNN
February 7, 2014 -- Updated 1045 GMT (1845 HKT)
The African Students Association
of Ithaca College in New York has launched a photo campaign called "The
Real Africa: Fight the Stereotype."
Students dispelling misconceptions
- A group of students have launched a campaign to break down stereotypes about Africa
- The campaign features images of students wrapped in the flag of their country
- The photographs are accompanied by quotes debunking myths about Africa
(CNN) -- They say there are no stupid questions -- or are there?
How about, "Do you speak African?" Or, "What is Africa's flag?"
Yes, these are quite
ludicrous. Tired of regularly having to answer questions like these, a
group of U.S.-based African students has launched a photo campaign in a
bid to dispel misconceptions about their continent.
Called "The Real Africa: Fight the Stereotype," the social media initiative
aims to educate and raise awareness about the common stereotypes
surrounding Africa and its people -- misunderstandings like Africa being
a homogenous entity rather than a diverse continent of more than 50
The campaign features striking images of the members of the African Students Association of New York's Ithaca College wrapped in different African flags or holding them proudly.
"What we wanted to do was
embrace the individual flags of the countries of Africa," says Rita
Bunatal, head of PR for the organization. "We wanted to show the beauty
and the power of the flag. We also wanted to break one of the biggest
misconceptions about the continent, which is that Africa is a country,"
For each photograph, the
posing students, aged 18 to 21, were also asked to come up with simple
but powerful quotes that would disprove the ignorant and offensive
remarks they would often hear.
As a result, the images
boast statements like "Africans do not all look alike," "Africans don't
need to be saved," "Africa is not a country" and "Africa is not a land
filled with diseases." In addition, the campaign is saturated with
educational facts that are designed to strengthen the students' quotes
-- "I don't speak 'African' because 'African' is not a language" says
one student, his declaration accompanied by the fact that "there are an
estimated 2,000 languages spoken in Africa."
What we wanted to do was embrace the individual flags of the countries of Africa.
Rita Bunatal, African Students Association, Ithaca College
"We wanted to give facts,
to correct, to give knowledge," says Bunatal, "trying to educate and
stop people from saying these other things."
The African Students Association of Ithaca College first posted their photo campaign on CNN's iReport platform on January 20. Since then, some 5,000 people have viewed the photos and more than 2,000 have shared them on Facebook.
"The simplest actions
can create awareness and we are hoping to do this not only campus-wide,
but also world-wide," says Bunatal.