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ILLUMINATING THE DARK CONTINENT: UNDERSTANDING AFRICA THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHS When you think of Africa, what images come to mind? Africa: A Continent of Contrasts Life Expectancy: Egypt: 70.4 Zambia: 37.2 Literacy Rates: Zimbabwe: 85% Niger: 12% Yearly Earnings Per Person:
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UNDERSTANDING AFRICA THROUGH
Yearly Earnings Per Person:
Access to Safe Drinking Water:
3,000 African children under 5 die each day from Malaria
live in the shanty-town
of Soweto, just outside
of prosperous Johannesburg.
The vast majority do not have running water or reliable electricity. Crime is rampant as is the spread of contagious diseases. The World Health Organization described Soweto as a “national health risk.” The South African government calls Soweto “a diamond in the rough.”
There are presently 19 ethnic/political wars taking place in Africa
Idi Amin of Uganda
ordered the death of
some 300,000 Ugandans. When exiled in 1979, Amin leaves his already impoverished country $320 million in debt
and crippled by 200% inflation. He “retires” to Saudi Arabia and dies in 2003.
Seventy-percent of Africans live on less than $2.00 a day
Plagued by drought and a lack of infrastructure, African food production has decreased over 23% within the past decade. Thirty percent of African
children are malnourished. Half of all deaths of African pre-schoolers stem from malnutrition. More than 3,900 African children die each day due to unsafe drinking water.
Over the past four decades, the African elephant population has been reduced by more than 80%.
African wildlife. Hunted for food or for sport, African wildlife is
teetering on the brink of survival. A 10 year old African boy was paid
the equivalent of .10¢ for a lion’s head.
African is often referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization.” The richness of the ancient Egyptian civilization is evidenced in their contributions to mathematics, aesthetics, law, and architecture. Some believe it was in Africa, more than 3 million years ago, that Humans took their first bipedal steps.
Imprisoned for 26 years for opposing the oppressive white- only rule (Apartheid) in South Africa, Nelson Mandela emerged as the voice for African unity, struggle,
and hope. Elected President
of South Africa in 1994, he worked to eradicate the vestiges of colonial rule which politically, economically,
and educationally placed the African in a reduced role. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his peaceful efforts in moving South African from Apartheid to Democracy.
resources (like Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls) to spur
of such cites are on the rise
as African governments
realize that economics and
conservation are intertwined. Within the past decade, Africa has established numerous eco-tourism cites that preserve the natural landscape while increasing conservation awareness.
water projects scattered
throughout the continent
with the goal of providing
safe drinking water to
roughly 300 million
Africans. A well, which
costs about $5.00
to start, can reduce
health risks like trachoma
(the leading cause of
blindness in African
children) and dysentery.
business to backyard vegetable
stands to serving as tour
guides or school teachers,
women are on the forefront of
Africa’s economic revitalization.
It is estimated that 60% of new
businesses or enterprises are
started by women. Though
still lagging behind males in
terms of education, African
women are poised to exert a
tremendous amount of
throughout the region within
the next decade.
comeback. After decades of
reckless poaching and poor
land management, hundreds
of game preserves and wildlife
sanctuaries have been created.
The results are promising: the
African elephant, cheetah, and
lion populations have all
steadily increased. Yet the
African lowland gorilla is still
severely threatened. Its future
Achebe, C. (1958). Things fall apart. Oxford: Heinemann.
Conrad, J. (1899). The heart of darkness. New York: Penguin.