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Swedish, Nature conservation freak, Passionate about Africa, Loving Peace, Politically neutral

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Sarah Palin's Africa

I cannot help to smile when I hear that former vice president candidate Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country. With a fair chance that this is just a rumor, started by Palin's opponents, I am still not surprised that there exist people that have no clue about the world around them. This oblivion is the result of either lack of education/information on or uninterest in the focal topic.

I have meet people in Africa (the continent, not the country) who do not know anything about for example the EU, Elvis Presley or 9/11. In these cases it has usually been a combination of lack of education/information and interest, with some skewness towards the former. And it is quite easy to fix this gap in knowledge, if needed. We just bring forward an information campaign about, say, The King of Rock n Roll, which will capture the interest of people and educate them. It is far more difficult to fix someone who has been provided with all the information and education, and still don't gets it...

PS. Maybe BBC should produce a travel program called "Palin and Palin", where one Palin (Michael) takes the other Palin around the world.

Update: Well my suspicion was correct, Palin's ignorance about Africa was just a rumor started by her opponent (or something like that).

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Anonymous said...

Just a reflection from someone who entered your blog entirely accidentally. Having lived in Stockholm for some years, I have noticed that Swedes, although most of them are well meaning, have pretty strong ethnocentrist tendencies. Swedes are generally speaking pretty ignorant about philosophy, but like to think of themselves as sophisticated and knowledgeable about the world around them. Why is it so that people living in, from you, distant localities, such as Africa, should have to know about the EU or Elvis? What gives you the right, to establish a framework for what any “educated” person on this globe ought or ought not to know? From which position do you think you speak? I will tell you. You enact the figure of the "Enlightened Westerner", who thinks he may (and it is always a he) unilaterally establish what "everyone" should know. Let me suggest that you read Homi Bhabha, start with the Location of Culture. I am sure you have good intentions, but your critique of Palin just rings so hollow.

Geoffrey Goines said...


I think you misunderstand my post. I wrote "information/education", meaning information and/or education. Lacking information has nothing to do with being "educated" or not.

Furthermore, I point out that on some continents people have the interest but lack information/education, whereas on other continents it is apparently the other way around

Anonymous said...

I think your description of Swedes is pretty grave and derogatory without any foundation. You might even say pedantic, bordering on ignorant on your part.
You've hardly met that many Swedes and I have a strong feeling your conclusions are empiric.
Be more careful and provide better sources when judging a people like that.

Anonymous said...

It was supposed to say "aren't empiric", of course.

Lunda said...

Perhaph I can enlighten thing with a few personal experiences.

I`m from Norway, a small country in the northeastermost part of continental Europe.

I`ve been to the states and to Canada (as well as many other countries). When I`ve been to Canada, people have asked me where I`m from. When I answer, the think for a moment and guesses it`s in Europe somewhere, usually somewhere north.

When it comes to people from USA, a typical answer is "Isn`t that in Utah", or some such nonsense.

Now a person from Norway (I am admit somewhat biased here), if asked where for example Iowa, is, they answer USA, but would have a harder time placing it further on the map, the smarter of them would give an aproximate estimation, but only some who has a more intimate knowledge would know excactly where.

Everybody is... well, not excactly ethnocentric (centered toward his/her ethic group, but centered towards their own neighbourhood, and going from there (would that make it geocentric?). The further away from where you live, the less you know of the places, unless given a reason to learn about the place, such as how much it affects you, American foreign policy these last 8 years has, unfortunately, had a big impact on the rest of the world.

And yes, education has an impact over how much we do know, although some kinds of "education" is not always helpful, one such example is the ""intelligent" design" (that basically preaches the "scientific fact" that earth is created by God).

Anonymous said...

I trust that you'll be publishing a new article regarding the Palin Africa hoax? Perhaps something about election by media and a complicit press or the laziness in journalism these days.

Ludvig Hoffman said...

Is'nt Africa starting to be one big union as europe? I, as a swede, count the european union as one single country...

John Eje Thelin said...

Nothing has surfaced to indicate that the Palin rumor was a hoax. The NYT article everyone's crowing about explicitly states: "The pranksters behind Eisenstadt acknowledge that he was not, through them, the anonymous source of the Palin leak. He just claimed falsely that he was the leaker--and they say they have no reason to cast doubt on the original story."