Understanding Africa: A Geographic Approach
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP
Pagination or Media Count:
Immediately following the 2008 U.S. presidential election, which occurred around the time this book was being compiled, a fracas occurred within the media surrounding some post-election campaign gossip that the Republican partys vice-presidential candidate had revealed during debate and briefing preparations that she did not understand that Africa was a continent, and instead believed it to be a single state. Whether that rumor was true or false is quite beside the point the larger issue, arguably, is that many people found it even at least somewhat plausible that a person with a high school diploma-let alone a college degree-granted in the U.S. might not know that Africa is a continent. Indeed it is a very large one, with 53 independent states fraught with a troubled and complex historical geography. Although most Americans have a general sense that modern Africa is beset with difficulty and some could name a few places and issues related to the limited coverage given African events in the mainstream media, there is little understanding of Africa. Indeed for virtually all Americans, Africa remains the dark continent. Americans knowledge in world events and global systems is infamously poor for a number of reasons. Not least among them is the abandonment of geography from the U.S. secondary public school curriculum, or at least its bifurcation in most U.S. states into earth science and social science courses, with an accompanying loss of the integrative and holistic nature of geography. Indeed, geography is uniquely able to deliver a synergistic and comprehensive view of a place, and the movement away from the discipline has contributed to what Daniel Welch has depicted as Americans fog of distortion, ignorance, smugness, and disinterest 2005 about the world outside our borders. If that characterization makes us wince, it is largely because it fits us too well.