After years of teaching, speaking and publishing in an effort to convey the breadth and nuance of Africa’s thousands of cultural groups, earlier today, two weary professors gave up the fight to convince Americans that Africa is not, in fact, a country. Conceding defeat, Assistant Professors Laura Seay and Kim Yi Dionne threw in the metaphorical towel on Friday morning. They were the last holdouts in a decades-long struggle against the forces of poorly-informed journalism, Eurocentric educational curricula, and Irish pop stars who peaked in 1987.
“It doesn’t matter how many map quizzes I give or how often I interrupt students to ask them to be specific about the amazing pictures from their volunteer trip to ‘Africa,’ things are never going to change,” said Dionne. “I might as well give up.”
Reached as she directed several research assistants to methodically begin erasing boundary lines from the Africa maps in her collection, Seay ruefully added, “I guess I’ll stop correcting people when they tell me they’re headed to ‘Ghana, Africa’ for a church mission trip.”
Dionne and Seay, both of whom should be editing their book manuscripts right now, shook their heads with regret at all the time, red ink and blood pressure medication they could have saved had they earlier given up on making Americans understand that rural Zambians have little in common with Senegal’s urban elites, other than that they share a continental landmass and survived European colonization.
“How did we miss that this fight was one we could never win?” cried Dionne. “I mean, there’s even a website. And if it’s on the Google, it must be true.” She was last spotted in a nearby academic library, frantically searching the cassette tape archives for instructions on blessing the rains.
When Dionne notified her friend and frequent co-author, Boniface Dulani (formerly of the University of Malawi and now of the University of Africa [*Editor’s note: At the moment, several hundred universities claim this name.]), he said, “I don’t understand. Here in Malawi – I mean Africa – we don’t have this problem.”
As of the April 1 press time, it was unclear how Africa’s new status as “a country” would affect Republican lawmakers’ Ebola-related calls to ban all flights from Africa, future products from the CNN graphics department or the scheduling of Seay’s January study abroad trip to the administrative unit previously known as Uganda.