Under a new program to dispel common misconceptions about their native lands and peoples, students from countries in Africa spoke to people on the streets of Istanbul on Monday, hoping to raise awareness of the realities of the continent.
Africa experts Ahmet Kavas and Muhammed Tandogan of the Association of Researchers on Africa (AFAM) launched the campaign with students from various parts of Africa.
Acting as representatives of their cultures, students asked tourists and locals questions about Africa, showing a "red card" -- similar to the penalty card in soccer -- to participants whose answers showed a lack of awareness of the continent’s true character.
Participants who were unable, for example, to find Africa on a map or associated the continent with stereotypes including "hunger, poverty, wild animals, terror and slavery" were shown the red card, with interviewers then providing more accurate information on what life is like in their home.
The safari wins hearts
When students asked passers-by whether they would like to take a trip to an African country, many earned a red card for expressing reluctance over "hot weather” and “wild animals."
Muhammed Guaye -- a doctoral student from Senegal -- asked a 9-year-old: "Would you like to go on a vacation to Africa with your father?"
Fearful of wild animals, the boy was convinced when Guaye asked: "Don’t you want to go to a safari and see lions?"
This boy was only one of many Turkish participants who were enticed to visit the continent, particularly to take a safari.
Education in Ghana, Cairo, Alexandria
On the economic state of African countries, participants agreed that the continent has rich resources but lacks the necessary human resources to take advantage of this.
Awarding a red card to such answers, Guaye talked about successful universities in Ghana, Cairo and Alexandria.
Similarly, Guaye told participants who assumed democracy does not exist in African countries that all African countries enjoy democratic elections.