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Do you have good drinking water in Africa?

In areas free from drought and hilly in nature, clean water supply is not a problem. Again, the soil, comparatively speaking, is largely free of man-made chemicals, so water from the top of the earth's crust on the hills is completely filtered by the time it is carried down to the lower lying parts of any region where people fetch drinking water. Yes, most African countries, except those that are very flat and those where drought is common, have enough good drinking water. In some rural areas though, the distance to the source might pose a problem. Even then, fetching water from such natural sources which may be located away from the village has become a major pastime event for those responsible for the chore, as it is an entertaining and equally adventurous group activity for those old enough to make the trip. It is normal then to see younger children, not old enough to make the trip, crying and begging to go along with their older siblings to fetch water.

The situation, however, even in areas where potable water ought not be a problem, has been complicated by utility companies belonging to foreign nations, usually former colonizers, who have meters in place and charge exorbitant rates to Africans, unlike in their native countries because, of course, the bulk of the financial benefits go to their local treasuries overseas. These exorbitant rates cause many people to be unable to afford pipe-born water, and so they have to resort to streams that would otherwise have been a perfect source for potable water, but which have been sullied by supposedly modern practices like the building of dams or the application of chemicals in some nearby fields that end up polluting the streams. So, although drinking water ought not pose the problem it constitutes today in parts of Africa, the fact remains that from time to time one runs into difficulties with drinking water in different areas depending on the surrounding topography, the attendant practices of foreign companies, and corrupt local governments.

Are Africans dirty and smelly?

Africans are some of the cleanest people on earth. The warm weather conditions get Africans bathing more often than outsiders will ever know. The average African bathes once every day, whether cold or hot, and will not hesitate bathing a second and third time if he found himself or herself sweating profusely because of a game he or she was involved in, or just from trekking. Parents are particular about their daughter's hygiene, and they encourage them to bathe at least twice a day as opposed to the Mid-Western norm in the U.S, which is once a day. Contrary to pictures of dirty starving children shown on television from war-torn regions of Africa, Africans are very clean people.

Who is an African witch-doctor?

For anybody used to the trend, when something is from Africa, especially, even when there is a Western version, it is given a hideous name, and more often than not, demonized. These so-called witchdoctors, generally speaking, are seers with gifts, it is believed, that enable them to perceive things through their interactions with the spirit world, and then help those in need by one means or another. In the West, they would have been called "psychics" or something along those lines, but since they are from Africa, a name that ties in with the mythical, exotic, and equally barbaric portrait of the continent will work just fine, hence the idea of "witch-doctors," and can you hear the drums of Africa rolling and pounding in the background just by sounding that word? Westerners must learn the difference between the "evil witchdoctor," the "good witchdoctor" and the "herbalist" in Africa. Briefly, the first uses his supernatural powers to bring about evil to innocent people, sometimes at the behest of other clients; the second uses his powers to do good, to heal those afflicted by the evil witchdoctor. The herbalist, meanwhile, might not necessarily have any supernatural powers or connections, but has a great knowledge of herbs with which he/ she is born or which he/she learns from other experts, and which he/she uses to cure natural ailments with. Lewis H. Gann and Peter Duignan's effort at presenting the witch doctors as found among the Shona, is enlightening:

The 'witch doctors' — of popular European parlance — has gained an undeservedly bad reputation among whites, who often mix him up with a witch or evil magician. In reality the Shona nganga was a good man, a helper and healer, who would protect his clients from occult threat and who had a high standard of professional ethics and etiquette. The nganga usually determined the cause of an illness that was always supposed to be spiritual in character. He did this through a guiding spirit of his own, the spirit of a dead relative who then got in touch with the patient's ancestral spirits. There were also doctors who give only medicines, special roots, or herbs. A man of such a kind among the Shona was known as an herbalist (murapi); he stood in a distinctly lower category than the nganga, for he merely treated the symptoms while leaving the deeper causes of evil to be discovered by the nganga. (96)

Have you ridden an elephant?

I have never ridden an elephant because it is not an African way of life except as portrayed in the mythical stories of Tarzan. In real life, riding elephants is a common Indian practice, but not African.

 
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