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Africa - Whatever You Thought, Think Again

“Africa -- Whatever you thought, think again.” That’s the intriguing headline on the cover of the September issue of National Geographic Magazine, a publication that has covered the continent for more than a century.

This landmark special issue examines people, places and events that rarely receive attention in the American media. As Editor-in-Chief Chris Johns explained, this issue was an attempt to dissolve the myth that Africa is one place, one people, one dilemma to solve.

English to Africa reporter Kim Lewis asked Mr. Johns why he decided to devote an entire issue of National Geographic to Africa. He said, “Africa is a million places, not just one place. It’s a million voices and over the years, as I’ve worked in Africa, I have been rejuvenated, enriched by all these Africa stories. And we felt there are unfiltered, honest, African voices that need to be heard and frankly, hearing these voices can enrich our lives.”

Among the places focused on in this issue are Nairobi, where a resident writer provides an insight into the urban life of the Kenyan capital. Mr. Johns says this article celebrates diversity in the city and shows that people of different backgrounds can get along. Another article looks at Chad and the hope of the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline; a human rights activist says the people living in areas along the pipeline should benefit from it.

Editor Chris Johns says readers will also hear from a 22-year-old woman living with AIDS and how her life now has hope because treatment is available. Mr. Johns says the stories in this issue of National Geographic counterbalance the bleak headlines of civil war, poverty and disease.

He says, “It is our belief that Africa will find a balance between the needs of its people and the needs of its wild places: It is our hope that the way in which Africa solves its problems can serve as a model for the rest of the world.”

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