Africa is just acacia and savannah

…or at least, it is according to the Western publishing world’s idea of Africa.

Africa is a Country critiques the publishing trend that has every book about Africa displaying either an acacia tree or a red sunset over the veld.

In short, the covers of most novels “about Africa” seem to have been designed by someone whose principal idea of the continent comes from The Lion King.

A montage of books about Africa with similar colour schemes and design styles

A follow-up Quartz article puts the effect down to a mix of short deadlines and conservative publishing houses, but seems optimistic that we’ll eventually move away from this sort of cliched colonialist approach; or at least move on to a different cliche.

One day, Mendelsund predicts, there will be a best-selling novel by an African writer that happens to use a different visual aesthetic, and its success will introduce a new set of arbitrary images to represent Africa in Western eyes“But right now, we’re in the age of the tree,” he says“For that vast continent, in all its diversity, you get that one fucking tree.”


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