As an American, how much do you know about Africa?
More than the average American, far less than the average African.
I've studied abroad in Ghana, and after that I worked for an Angolan trade NGO in Washington DC. That last internship required me to keep up with Angolan trade and finance and write summaries about it, so I was able to aquire a fair amount of knowledge about the country.
After that internship ended I wanted to stay involved in African economic and trade concerns, so I spent a lot of free time reading about various trade and development topics on various African countries, and writing articles about it.
A friend and I even did research into starting a business in a certain African country because I was convinced of a market niche we could enter.
So I could probably run circles around the average American should the topic of African economies or trade come up.
But I would get schooled by the average "African" on the street. Any street, in any country.
There is only so much you can learn through books and articles. Being on the ground level and seeing everything up close is a far different experience. What could I, with my book-knowledge of intra-African trade, tell a Kenyan trader who crosses borders every week?
Jack shit, that's what.
That's a huge reason why I decided not to continue down that "think tank" career path. In large part it was because all of the NGOs here in the US that focus on Africa at all are focused on aid not trade, but the other reason is because there is really no reason why any African organization would need me.
Now I just keep up with African trade and finance as a hobby. Perhaps one of these days I'll have enough money to invest in something on the continent.
As a high school student who has taken both World History and AP World History, we were taught a little bit of the history of Africa. Even with my own research, I don't know much. My high school offers specific classes for African history and culture, but I don't know if many other schools offer this course. For the average American, I'd bet they know very little. Africa is usually overlooked in history courses and people just don't care enough to learn. Sad, as Africa has a very rich history and lots of culture.
Most Americans don't know much about ANY country outside the US, only the most basic generalizations. Give an American a map of ANY continent in the world and ask them to find a country in that continent and they very likely won't be able to find it. My best guess as to why is because Americans know so little about other countries is because ours is so huge (3rd largest in the world) and it is on the other side of the planet making travel expensive and somewhat difficult, whereas here in America we have 50 different states to choose from and each has something interesting to see and can be done in a few short hours drive in most cases. I personally have only been to 2 foreign countries (Germany and Sweden) and honestly don't have much desire to vacation outside the US anytime soon if at all. Most of the history books that are taught in K-12 schools deal with US history so we don't learn much about other countries in our schools. A funny thing about Americans though is when people from other countries come to visit the US we are curious to hear about what life in their country is like since we know so little about them.
I have a Master's degree in African history.