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 9:29 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Australia's Tim Cahill appeals to the linesman after a disallowed goal during the Group B match between Chile and Australia at Arena Pantanal on June 13, 2014 in Cuiaba, Brazil.
Kenya's national football team may not have made it to the World Cup Finals in Brazil -- but one man will be there for his African nation.
updated 6:44 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
African contemporary art is thriving, says author Chibundu Onuzo.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Wegkruipertjie, a short film playing at the Durban International Festival
From Ghanaian rom-coms to documentaries celebrating 20 years of South African democracy, festival-goers are spoiled for choice at this year's Durban Film Fest.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Kalibala with one of the children she supports.
In 2010, Ugandan journalist Gladys Kalibala embarked on a mission to bring attention to her country's lost and abandoned children.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
Sunset at Camps Bay with one of Andrew van de Merwe.
A trip to the beach is usually for lounging in the sun. But for Andrew van de Merwe, the sand stretches in front of him as an enormous blank canvas.
updated 8:40 AM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
Esther Mbabazi, Rwanda's first female pilot
Esther Mbabazi wheels her bag towards the airstairs of the Boeing 737 sitting quietly on the tarmac at Kigali International Airport.
updated 7:22 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
Jun 1978: Filbert Bayi #42 of Tanzania rounds the bend during the 5000 Metre event at the AAA Championships in Crystal Palace, London.
He's smashed world records and revolutionized running during his career. And yet the name of Filbert Bayi has largely been forgotten.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Nelson Mandela
Adrian Steirn and the 21 ICONS team have captured intimate portraits of some of South Africa's most celebrated. Here he reveals the story behind the photographs.
updated 6:41 AM EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
As the old adage goes, "If you want it done right, do it yourself" -- and for social activist Rakesh Rajani, those words have become an ethos to live by.
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 9:15 AM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
David Kinjah njau and Davidson Kamau kihagi of Kenya in action during stage 2 of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race.
He's one of Kenya's premier cyclists but David Kinjah's better known as the man that trained Tour de France champion Chris Froome.
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 5:59 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Jean Claude Nkusi
In Rwanda, young genocide survivors are forming "artificial families" to help each other financially and emotionally.
updated 5:42 AM EDT, Mon May 19, 2014
The President and founder of the organisation 'Femmes Africa Solidarite' (Women Africa Solidarity), Bineta Diop.
Senegalese human rights activist Bineta Diop reveals why she is willing to risk her life to help women in Africa.
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