It’s time to admit that Hollywood’s portrayal of Africa in film, in general, is at the very least in most cases wrong. In this era of information, you would be right to assume that Hollywood had gotten the memo concerning Africa. Everything you need to know these days is one click away. I am not saying that Africa should be ranked among the world’s developed continents, far from it, but Africa is not a barren, war-torn, wasteland either. We have buildings, electricity, schools, cities, roads, industries, cars, malls, and no, we do not wear rags or live on/in trees. At this point, Hollywood can’t even pretend to be ignorant. With quality star-power exports such as Lupita Nyong’o (Kenya), Eddie Gathegi (Kenya), Owiso Odera (Kenyan), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Nigerian), Djimon Hounsou (Benin) and Peter Mensah (Ghana) just to mention a few, Hollywood can’t pretend it doesn’t know Africa is far from a dusty continent. Even with all that, the African stereotype is one thing Hollywood can’t seem to get over. Here are five annoying Hollywood portrayals of Africa.
I’ve got news for you Hollywood, not every prominent African leader is a warlord. There are engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, IT wizards and billionaires in Africa too. Do some parts of Africa still have warlords? Sure. Are there so many of them that it should be considered a standard for the whole of Africa? NO!
2. We are developing: that means we have a few things, like buildings.
As recently as July this year, Independence Day Resurgence portrayed Africa as underdeveloped in every sense of the word. It is even more laughable in this case because, at the beginning of the movie, POTUS makes a big deal of how the world has developed massively due to alien technology and achieved a state of world peace the world has never seen before. Apparently, that applies to every other continent except Africa. *Rolls eyes*. It might come as news to some executives in Hollywood, but Africans know what skyscrapers are!
3. Nairomi, Africa. Seriously?
Where exactly is Nairomi in Africa? In the recent Batman vs. Superman movie, there is a scene that takes place in Nairomi. As you might have guessed, Nairomi is a fictional place created for the movie, and it is dusty, underdeveloped, and the people who live there haven’t seen a car built after the 1970’s. Don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with created fictional locations; Wakanda has been in the Marvel database for a long time and serves as the birthplace of the Black Panther (Avengers: Civil War) and Storm (X-Men). What I do take offense with is the fact that even in a fictional location, Africa is still a barren wasteland. Also, did the name have to sound like Nairobi’s close relative? Has anyone in Hollywood actually seen Nairobi?
4. Non-African actors
This is a contentious issue. I mean Idris Elba’s portrayal of Nelson Mandela in the movie Mandela: A Long Walk to Remember was amazing. Elba even got the accent right. Not to mention Will Smith’s stellar performance as Nigerian Dr. Bennet Omalu in the movie Concussion. However, this does beg the question, shouldn’t African actors portray African icons?
5. Somewhere in Africa
This is by far the most annoying! Not only is the African continent vast, but it is also made up of more than just Savannah. I hope one day a director/producer, preferably an African, shoots a montage of any location in America, and just calls it ‘somewhere in America.’ I have a dream! Given all that, maybe it’s time Africa got serious about building its own entertainment industry.