What kind of currency do you use in Africa?
Far back before contact with the West, different commodities were used for economic exchange—cowries, salt, and gold are examples. With colonialism, the colonizing nations introduced their local currencies, or at least versions of them, as was the case with Britain in Nigeria, the United States in Liberia, and France in Cameroon. The French had a franc intended for the colonies and its value was ridiculously low compared to the French Franc. It is still in use today and called the "Franc CFA" (African Financial Community in English). When the franc for the colonies was at its best, or thereabout, a hundred francs for the colonies was worth two French francs. With the theoretical ending to colonialism, some newly independent countries, sooner or later, gave up the currencies of the colonial nations and came up with theirs. In Cameroon, for example, Southern Cameroons was made to drop the British West African (BWA) currency they had been using and in its place was introduced the French franc for African countries instead. This was thanks to Ahidjo's strategy towards the annexation of Anglophone Cameroon. France, on the other hand, for example, still has her currency in place in Africa. Most African countries belonging to the so-called Francophonie, the French version of the British Commonwealth, are still using a near worthless version of the French franc reserved for former colonies in Africa—African Financial Community. However, some African countries also came up with their own currencies. Nigeria is a good example where a local currency called the Naira is in use. So there are different currencies in different parts of Africa, some local and others versions of what is used in the former colonizing country.
Is everybody poor in Africa?
One can state almost categorically that there is no community on earth in which everyone is poor, as that would have to be a particularly unfortunate group of people; poverty is a relative concept. In Africa, just like anywhere else, there are the poor and the wealthy, the haves and the have-nots.
The political instability in most African countries fuels the problem, as it becomes really difficult for a system to be established that can help the population and the countries. Foreign investors come in mainly to exploit the people, and even the regimes in place exploit the people for the benefit of the dictator in power along with his Western protectors. Accordingly, it is hard, if not virtually impossible, given the chaos, for there to be that stability required to eradicate poverty by the creation of strong economic organizations that will truly be of help to the masses. The result is that most societies have degenerated into what one might describe as "survival societies," in which people do almost anything to survive, or at best the economies have returned to a subsistence level in which the laborer works and depends on daily sales for survival without the privileges of serious investments. Even then, such ventures are heavily taxed by government, thanks to disturbing economic strategies imposed on these governments by international monetary organizations as they struggle to harvest and transfer profits to their local economies in the West. Not everybody is poor in Africa; the societies are structured economically like those elsewhere, with the poor, the middle class, and the rich. In some African societies, however, the middleclass is almost disappearing.
Do you pay taxes in Africa?
Like virtually every non-primitive society on earth, most African communities do pay taxes. However, because of the presence of mostly corrupt governments in power, the taxes have been destructive rather than constructive in the sense that they are there as a way of exploiting the poor and giving the money to the rich, who are mostly corrupt government officials and their family members and friends. So although taxes are paid in Africa, the money is not accounted for, as dictators use it in whatever fashion they choose without the citizens being able to protest since an overpaid armed forces and police are in place waiting for an opportunity to attack and kill their own citizens with live-ammunitions; citizens they should be protecting; citizens, taxpayers in other words, who pay their oversized paycheques. This irresponsible police behavior is seen even when the clashes are not directly related to politics, such as with students protesting against the highhanded tactics of some of their administrators. In instances such as these, students are often shot dead by trigger happy policemen who are, more often than necessary, called in to quell a student's riot by force without the issues raised by the students being addressed. The University of Buea, in Cameroon, is the most recent case, where a few years ago, two students were shot dead by policemen simply because they were protesting against the authoritarian techniques of their vice-chancellor, a woman who should know better, given her educational background. The said Vice-Chancellor has just been imposed on another university after things returned to normal. Instead of being made to pay for her highhanded manner which caused the lives of two young adults in the University of Buea, true to the ridiculous tendencies of the Cameroonian regime, she has just been sent to continue her practices on another University campus, as if being rewarded for her authoritarian practices in Buea: sent there by the government since even positions in academia are government controlled.
Yes, taxes are paid in Africa but not necessarily for exactly the same items, facilities, and commodities taxed in the West.
Why are Americans shown only the poor and down side of Africa?
I wish I could be very sure of the answer to this question myself. The point here is that the media focuses only on the bad things that happen in the different countries of Africa—the refugee situation, the spread of AIDS, ethnic clashes and the like, but would never say a word about all the good things that happen on the continent. This would not have mattered much given the trend of the media these days, since the guiding policy is "if it bleeds it leads," but that which is disturbing about reporting African affairs is the disgusting diction that is usually employed. One can only speculate, and this leads one into suspecting sometimes that this possibly has to do with the media trying to convince Americans, for example, that America is the best country in the world. But then, when it comes to other Western societies they also show only the very best pictures of these societies. One is left with the feeling then, that it is that old Western tradition of presenting the black being as unsuccessful by showing only the worst occurrences and environments that have to do with these events and the people involved. Of course, because there are slumps even in the richest countries on earth, yet only those of Africa are shown people all the time, one cannot help believing in the idea of media bias and the retention of stereotypes. There is poverty, stress, and wealth everywhere on earth, even in the U.S., but it is generally a perfect picture of the country we see all the time in the media. Accordingly, one can only confirm a desire to frustrate and ridicule the black being, plus the fact that sensationalism when it has to do with others, especially Africa, sells.