Questions European Children Ask About Africa

 I met a Belgian in Nairobi early in the year, at a filmmaker’s workshop. When he went back to his country, he found a teaching job because, well, film making isn’t as lucrative as our dreams would wish it to be. And since he had been to Africa, he started this project in his school, to teach these children about Africa and African cultures. They are I think in the age group of 10-12. So he asked these sweet angels to send questions to the African friends he met, and below are some of the questions. Some of them made me go ‘wtf!’ and others just made me fall off the floor laughing. (I wonder what the questions would be like if I picked a bunch of African school children and had them ask questions about Europe!)
So here are the innocent questions.
My name is Eira and I’m contacting you as a part of our school project on African cultures. I am going to be a giraffe attacking a person in our performance, so does African giraffes attack people?
I could not help laughing. The poor kid going to be a giraffe! Wow, I would love to be a giraffe as well, but it made me think, why do those teachers make children play out unrealistic roles? Giraffes are the gentlest creatures. They are afraid of people. Only people attack giraffes! And so giraffes are afraid of people. They won’t let you touch them.
I remember in Haler Park, Mombasa, I was feeding one of them. He (or she) ate a whole bag of food off my palms, passed his slimy, rough tongue all over my hand to lick off every bit of the food (whatever it was) and once he had eaten to his fill, I tried to pet him. But he jumped away with a ‘grrpphh!’ sound – it was an angry expulsion of air from his nostrils, as if warning me to keep feeding him but not to get so friendly.

My name is Fredrik. What are some very famous folk stories from Malawi or Kenya? Thank you for your time, and I hope you have a great day 
My name is Mathieu. What are some traditional dance moves and rhythms in Malawi? How often do you have a traditional dance? Is it somewhat like this one?
Do you believe in someone different than god?
This one made me frown. He starts out by asking questions about dance, and then all of a sudden, he pops that one about God. Hmmm. Do you believe in someone different than god? Wow. He probably should know that Europeans brought a certain God to Africa, but now the Europeans have largely abandoned this God. They only interact with him in Sunday school. Or they misinterpret his teachings whenever they want to use it to serve their political agendas. So while today this God would be against gay marriage, tomorrow he is the all loving being who promotes homosexuality.
Dear Elijah & Beaty,
My name is Eva and I’m contacting you as a part of our school project on African cultures.
Are you in a band, if so what instrument do you play? I have one more question to ask. Do you think my group and I should wear costumes?

Answer: Yeah, wear animal costumes. I think you will look cute as a Zebra. Oh well, we didn’t really send the kid that answer, it was something much nicer.

Dear Elijah & Beaty 
Why do African dance? when they are happy or sad?

My name is Harper. I’m really glad to get to communicate with you! In our group, we’re doing Waka Waka by Shakira as a comparison from modern African influenced music and music that is straight from Africa. I was wondering if people in Africa think that African influenced modern music is interesting or stupid?

Nice question, Harper J

Modern African dance
My question is about our music. I have the feeling as if my group needs some new African rhythms to really improve and make the project really good. I think we use to much the same rhythm because we don’t have enough variety of rhythms. Therefore, could you please see our video (they sent a link, but sorry, can’t post it here) and say how we could improve and could you send us some more rhythms?
Sure boy. Your rhythms are much the same and no matter how much you try to learn African rhythms, you may never get the moves. Unless you come and live here for many years.
School children perform a dance at the National Theatre, Kampala
Dear Elijah & Beaty. Is the danse and the music the same in all Africa??? What are your beliefs there?? Where do you leve ? What is your hobby? Do you have a wife ? Do you have kids ? What do you do in life???? What food do you eet and who do you eet ??
Thanks for your time,
This is some of what we eat in Africa.
Not what you see below.
Picture stolen from google images. Can’t remember who to credit. It was very offensive to many people as stereotyping Africans. No wonder the poor child comes up with such weird questions.
That last question made me cry. who do you eet ?? I can only think that he wanted to ask, who do you eat with? I remember once meeting a guy from Papua New Guinea, and I asked him if he were a cannibal. Understandably, he never wanted to talk to me again. I guess we have a long way to go before we overcome stereotypes.
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2 thoughts on “Questions European Children Ask About Africa”

  1. Some made me laugh and some made me real sad because it shows how much we encourage knowledge about cross cultures! It shows how ignorant we are about other cultures and how minimal effort we put into sharing the right stuff 🙁


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