Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

'Africa is not a country': Students' photo campaign breaks down stereotypes

By Teo Kermeliotis, for CNN
updated 5:45 AM EST, Fri February 7, 2014
The African Students Association of Ithaca College in New York has launched a photo campaign called "The Real Africa: Fight the Stereotype." The African Students Association of Ithaca College in New York has launched a photo campaign called "The Real Africa: Fight the Stereotype."
HIDE CAPTION
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
Students dispelling misconceptions
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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 countries.

African immigrants make Harlem home

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," she adds.

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.

Click through the gallery above to see the students' campaign.

READ THIS: Europe in ashes, Africa an oasis?

READ THIS: African slave traditions live on in U.S.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
African Voices
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
The veiled female rapper tackling Egyptian taboos head on
Meet Mayam Mahmoud, the 18-year-old Egyptian singer tackling gender stereotypes through hip-hop.
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
As the head of Kenya Red Cross, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders at the Westgate shopping mall.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Wed March 19, 2014
Gikonyo performs a medical check-up for one of her patients at Karen Hospital in Kenya.
Leading pediatric surgeon Betty Gikonyo reveals how her life changed at 30,000 feet and her mission to save the lives of countless disadvantaged children in Kenya.
updated 8:46 AM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
Biyi Bandele
As a child, Biyi Bandele immersed himself in a world of literature. Today he's taken that passion and turned it into a career as a celebrated writer, playwright and now director.
updated 6:26 AM EST, Wed February 26, 2014
Sanaa Hamri in Los Angeles, 2011.
Music video and film director Sanaa Hamri shares her story of how she made it from the streets of Tangier to the big film studios in the United States.
updated 5:34 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
updated 5:16 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
Actress Lupita Nyong'o attends the 86th Academy Awards nominees luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o has become a new critics' darling after her breakout role in last year's hit movie "12 Years A Slave."
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
Celebrated designer Adama Paris reveals how she was tired of seeing "skinny blonde models" on all the runways, so she did something about it.
updated 11:48 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Packaging can change how people see things. And when it comes to sex, it could maybe help save lives too.
updated 7:06 AM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Global perceptions of the tiny country in east-central Africa are often still stuck in 1994 but local photographers are hoping to change that.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
A Silverback male mountain Gorilla sits in the dense jungle canopy on the edge of Uganda's Bwindi National Park in this 29, January 2007 photo. Bwindi, or the 'Impenetrable Forest' as it is known to many tourists is home to the majority of Uganda's rare and endangered mountain gorilla population where plans are underway to habituate two more gorilla family groups to counter growing demand from a flourishing gorilla trek tourism business, a major source of income for the Uganda tourism Authority. AFP PHOTO / STUART PRICE. (Photo credit should read STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)
Meet Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, the woman from Uganda trying to save critically endangered mountain gorillas before its too late.
updated 5:39 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
Lightenings strike over Johannesburg during a storm on December 14, 2013.
Ending energy poverty is central to a resurgent Africa, writes entrepreneur Tony O. Elumelu.
updated 5:45 AM EST, Fri February 7, 2014
A group of young students have taken stereotypes about the continent -- and destroyed them one by one.
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
Each week African Voices brings you inspiring and compelling profiles of Africans across the continent and around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT