Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina's article "How to Write About Africa" is the ultimate takedown of foreigners' tendency to write about any part of the continent using the same few storylines and vague clichés through a lens of exoticism. He writes:

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannas and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

Economic rankings from the World Bank and political freedom scores from Freedom House are not usually the best way to get a nuanced understanding of a country. But by visualizing those scores and others dealing with health, education, diversity, and demographics, this infographic offers a picture of Africa's 55 or so countries. It's especially fun and useful to see the trends and outliers across different metrics.

Start clicking on countries and categories to explore!


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