Many years ago, I met John Reader, author of Africa: A Biography of the Continent at an airport. He nonchalantly gave me a test of sorts… which I now pass on to you.
Simply go through the list of countries* below — starting at the top and proceeding in order — with the intention of stopping ( at a given number ) when you’ve come as close as possible to having compiled an area in square kilometres equal to the land mass of Africa:
*Includes dependencies and overseas territories.
1. The continental U.S.A.
13. Andorra and Austria
14. The Five Scandinavian Countries ( including Greenland and the Faroe Islands )
15. Albania and the Czech Republic
16. New Zealand
18. Slovenia, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Vatican City, Serbia and San Marino
20. European Russia
22. Malta and Luxembourg
24. Belarus, Moldova, Hungary, Bulgaria and Ireland
25. Bosnia and Herzegovina
28 The Three Baltic Countries
30. The Remainder of Europe
The answer to the question here can be secured by contacting me, Richard Oxman, at email@example.com. Hint: The countries which comprise the correct answer support four times as many people as Africa. The bigger question is What are we testing here? Hint: Africa is going the way of the Snows of Kilimanjaro… literally. And that is not being acknowledged when so much false “hope” can be generated –disingenuously or otherwise– by the likes of Gates and Bono and Bush, and even TransAfrica Forum at times. The much-lauded NGOs and well-intentioned individual souls are selling the continent short not calling a spade a spade. Oh heck, I’ll give an answer of sorts here: Africa is big, we don’t know it… and/or we think small. And that begs the question of what we know relative to what we think and talk about so much. Why is so much devoted to those countries listed relative to Africa? Why is the population of the continent so small? Offshoot: In how many literature classes across the country do instructors addressing Hemingway’s work let the students know that the snows will be no more? How many teachers know that astounding fact? In how many other kinds of classes is it ever noted that the only kinds of Africans (who will not be struggling for survival there and here) will be those like Obama, and Powell and Rice? That kind of question could never even be raised at a prestigious institution like Stanford, where they honor their former African-American Provost to this day. And — by association — her genocidal/ecocidal Chevron*. How many highly-opinionated people at Berkeley, MIT, Harvard or Yale can tell us a single thing about, say, Cabinda, let alone Chevron’s role there at present? OUR role. Ignorance about the African landbase and its traditions, etc. is a small part of our problem. Which begs other questions, yes? Sorry to get so testy on you. Oh…btw, even if one doesn’t count the populations of India and China in the mix, enormous Africa still has much less of a population than the remaining countries. It’s not because of healthy or natural reasons.
*See www.amazonwatch.org to see Chevron’s role in the greatest ecocidal devastation in history. Or… simply watch that great, eye-opening documentary Darwin’s Nightmare… never shown anywhere these days… saying it all. All except what’s right in our backyard in West Oakland.