African teenagers can tell you a lot about America. They will tell you about Obama, the first US black President. They will tell you about the splendor of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. And certainly, they will also tell you about how, where, and when President Kennedy was assassinated. Oh I forgot, they will also tell you about the bad time America had in Vietnam…( they saw it in Chuck Norris movies). Unfortunately, African teenagers maintain dangerous misconceptions about America and Americans.
If I were asked to list what I wish African teenagers could know about America, I would say…I wish they knew that:
1. America is not the Paradise
Go and try to wipe this misconception out of their minds. No way. No matter what you say, America will always be the paradise that one should visit before they die.
2. Americans are not all millionaires
Yes, all Americans are sons and daughters of Bill Gates… African teenagers think. Once you set your foot in an American airport, your pocket starts filling up with green bills…they say. USA is the country where unemployed people are being paid for DOING NOTHING…they argue. Everybody rolls in $$$$$, drives a Pontiac, swims in chocolate milk, and sleeps in big hotels. Hold on, hold on…dear friend, the reality is different. There are beggars and homeless people in America. Not everybody is wealthy. Without a job or a source of income, life in America is unbearable. Today, almost 10% of the population in USA are unemployed and what they receive from the Government is not enough to meet all needs. Briefly, there are people in Africa who are financially doing better than Americans.
3. Americans are not all the same
They don’t all have a loose lifestyle. Not all women walk around with miniskirts and their breasts in the air. Men don’t all pick up all women they meet. They are not all obese. They don’t all like hot-dogs and hamburgers. They are not all racists. They are not all as giant as Michael Jordan. They are not all ignorant about Africa and the rest of the world. Many of them know more about my country, my village, my mother tongue, Lumumba, Mandela, Mobutu, African civil wars…than I do.