Most times, Africans in Diaspora have been confronted with a couple of questions, such as:
Q. where are you from?
A. I am from Nigeria in West Africa.
Q. My cousin, Ramsey John, is working in the gold mines of Johannesburg, do you know him?
What is embarrassing about the above questions is not what they mean literally, but what they imply; namely, that Africa is so small (perhaps as small as one of the fifty states that make up the United states of America) that one who is from Nigeria in West Africa should be able to know someone who has no special affiliation to him except that he in Johannesburg, which is in South Africa.
For the benefit of our readers and those who ask such questions we shall give a brief geographical survey of Africa. Africa is often called the cradle of humanity; a home to a remarkable variety of people and cultures. It is a land of striking contrasts and wild beauty
Africa is the world’s second largest continents (second only to Asia). It comprises not less than 50 countries. Africa is the only continent that truly straddles the equator- the imaginary line that encircles Earth around its middle. It has an area of 11.7 million square miles, and is located squarely across the equator, with its northern and southern extremes nearly equidistant from the equator at 37-21â€™ North and 34-51â€™ south respectively. Four-Fifths of the area of Africa, which is about 9 million square miles, lie between the two tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. As a result of the geographic position of Africa, the great percentage of its vast lands enjoy the tropical climate that is generally warm and free from the violent fluctuations in temperature such as that found in North America. â€œMore significantly,â€ said American historian, Robert W. July: “Africaâ€™s geographic position affects the pattern of rainfall which, in turn, has a profound influence on African ecology and history.”
The latitudes adjacent to the equator north and south are covered by a blanket of low-pressure air which rises from the hot land in response to the near vertical rays of the sun. Thus is created a region of heavy rainfall, and here principally in the Congo River basin and the Guinea Coast of west Africa- is to be found the verdant rain forest capable at once of sustaining high population density and resisting the inroads of unwelcome intruders. This rich growth does not extend across the continent to east Africa, however, where wind, sea and topographical conditions limit precipitation and, hence, vegetation in that area.
As one moves away north and south of the equator the rainfall gradually diminishes through the zone of the trade winds until one reaches the subtropical high-pressure belt. Here the precipitation is less than 10 inches a year falling on the desert regions of Africa.
On the whole, as a result of African topography, one can say that Africa consists of a great block of ancient rock that has been little disturbed over 200 million years, except for periodic upheaval to the east and the south, peaking with Kenya Mountain, Kilimanjaro Mountain, and the Cameroon Range. A valley beginning with the Gulf of Agaba at the head of the Red Sea runs a course of 4000 miles southwards through the Ethiopian highlands, flanks Lake Victoria east and west, finally forms the Lake Malawi depression, and terminates on the eastern coast near the Mozambique city of Beira.
The great Continent is blessed with a series of major rivers that meander through the land, much of their long passages occasionally spreading out into broad, shallow basins that once held inland Seas. In many places, these rivers spill over the continental edge of the plateaus in waterfalls, causing rapids before emptying into the sea. Most of the Land are very rich for Agriculture and Farming. A considerable means of internal transportation and communication is provided through the river system of Africa.
When most Europeans and Americans think about Africa, they – more than anything else – think famine, poverty, AIDS and countries torn by civil war. News reports emerge mostly at moments of high urgency to inform us of issues that require our immediate attention. And though these â€˜waves of interest’ increase awareness and involvement, they are short lived, therefore, wrongfully creating the impression that the problem is solved. As a result, our views of Africa are fragmented and pigeon-holed, foregoing that Africa is much more than famine and safaris, or a continent devoid of hope. Lacking this broader understanding, it becomes increasingly difficult to support a continent that seems to be so far away and unrelated to our world.
This brief explanation of the African Continent will help us and our readers understand and balance their myopic judgement on Africa and expose them to a continent that is endowed with rich natural resources. click to view the article in pdf