Africa Is Not a Country

Notes on a Bright Continent

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Pub Date 06 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2022

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Description

An exuberant, opinionated, stereotype-busting portrait of contemporary Africa in all its splendid diversity, by one of its leading new writers.

So often, Africa has been depicted simplistically as a uniform land of famines and safaris, poverty and strife, stripped of all nuance. In this bold and insightful book, Dipo Faloyin offers a much-needed corrective, weaving a vibrant tapestry of stories that bring to life Africa’s rich diversity, communities, and histories.

Starting with an immersive description of the lively and complex urban life of Lagos, Faloyin unearths surprising truths about many African countries’ colonial heritage and tells the story of the continent’s struggles with democracy through seven dictatorships. With biting wit, he takes on the phenomenon of the white savior complex and brings to light the damage caused by charity campaigns of the past decades, revisiting such cultural touchstones as the KONY 2012 film. Entering into the rivalries that energize the continent, Faloyin engages in the heated debate over which West African country makes the best jollof rice and describes the strange, incongruent beauty of the African Cup of Nations. With an eye toward the future promise of the continent, he explores the youth-led cultural and political movements that are defining and reimagining Africa on their own terms.

The stories Faloyin shares are by turns joyful and enraging; proud and optimistic for the future even while they unequivocally confront the obstacles systematically set in place by former colonial powers. Brimming with humor and wit, filled with political insights, and, above all, infused with a deep love for the region, Africa Is Not a Country celebrates the energy and particularity of the continent’s different cultures and communities, treating Africa with the respect it deserves.

About the Author: Dipo Faloyin is a senior editor at VICE, where he focuses on race, culture, and identity around the world. His writing has appeared in Dazed, Prospect, and HuffPost. Born in Chicago, raised in Lagos, he now lives in London.

An exuberant, opinionated, stereotype-busting portrait of contemporary Africa in all its splendid diversity, by one of its leading new writers.

So often, Africa has been depicted simplistically as a...


Advance Praise

"A necessary book that deserves its place in the canon as essential reading for anyone seeking an introduction to this vast continent—as well as the rest of us, who need to be regularly challenged on what we think we know about Africa and the damage done by that." - Sally Hayden, Irish Times

"Warm, funny, biting and essential reading." - Adam Rutherford, author of How to Argue With a Racist

"A brilliant, prescient exploration of a richly complex continent. An antidote for our times." - Irenosen Okojie, author of Nudibranch

"This book is hilarious, ferocious, generous, and convincing. It made me reconsider almost everything I thought I knew about Africa, which is somewhere we often hear about, but far too rarely hear from." - Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland

"An impeccably researched work, brimming with humor and intellect. A necessary read for 2022." - J K Chukwu, author of The Unfortunates

"A triumph of a book. A charismatic and hugely enjoyable read packed full of essential information—revealing a huge, vastly diverse set of stories, situations, and histories that really do pop the balloon of lazy stereotyping of Africa. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t read this book." - Nels Abbey, coauthor of Think Like a White Man

"A necessary book that deserves its place in the canon as essential reading for anyone seeking an introduction to this vast continent—as well as the rest of us, who need to be regularly challenged on...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780393881530
PRICE $30.00 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

When I glanced over the table of contents and the various topics that Dipo Faloyin’s “Africa is Not a County” was to cover, I initially wasn’t sure what to make of them. Ranging from the carve-up of the continent by European powers, to the jollof rice rivalry that exists between several west African nations, to a brief visit to his native Lagos, it all felt a little disparate to me. But once I was several chapters in, I found myself completely engrossed. Faloyin’s selected subjects work as both a mercilessly fierce multi-pronged attack on the long-standing stereotypes of Africa as a famine/poverty/corruption/war-stricken, rural, backward “Lion King”-esque monolith of a land and also a fantastic introduction to the continent’s true diversity and complexity.

The book almost feels like a must-read for countless others, and not just for those caught in the thrall of a simplistic all-Africa-is-all-just-the-same mindset. I came into the book with a somewhat better grasp of reality than that. However, the avalanche of information that Faloyin provided through his sharp writing made me intensely aware of all that I didn’t really know (which turned out to be quite a lot, to say the least). Also, to my great appreciation it simultaneously gave me a large head start in filling in my relevant knowledge gaps. As I worked my way from chapter to chapter, I compiled a sizably long mental and also physical lists of people, places, and other items that I wanted to explore further on my own later - which to me, is always an indisputable mark of a high-quality work of myth-busting non-fiction.

Packed from beginning to start with immense informative and eye-opening power, “Africa is Not a Country” is definitely not a title to be overlooked. After I suggest this for purchase at both the academic library I work at and my local public library, I look forward to overzealously recommending it to my friends and family.

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