How tolerant are African countries?
Afrobarometer, an initiative that surveys public attitudes, has effectively dealt a blow to clichés on ethnic prejudice and intolerance in African countries. According to a report released by the group, a large number of Africans are fine with being neighbors with immigrants, someone of another ethnic group or religious confession, or people living with HIV/AIDS. The result is based on research carried out between 2014 and 2015 in 33 African counties with responses from 50,000 people. Respondents were asked about neighbors due to the fact that in most African countries, maintaining relations with neighbors is of utmost importance.
The question of (in)tolerance in the African continent has for long been a touchy one. The general assumption, no doubt influenced by stereotypes and media reports, is that Africans are largely close-minded and prejudiced along ethnic and religious lines. To this, Afrobarometer aims at showing the more complex reality.
However, while the report does show that there is an acceptance of others, a line is drawn when sexuality is brought into the equation. A low 21 percent of the 50,000 people interviewed agreed that they would like to, or would not mind living next to a LGBT person. Of all the countries surveyed, a few stood out as being more tolerant regarding homosexuality, including Cape Verde, South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia. Citizens of other countries that participated in the survey such as Egypt and Sudan were not even asked the question about gay neighbors due to concerns over sensitivity.
Although Afrobarometer suggests that younger and educated people are more tolerant towards homosexuality, perhaps this tolerance could be linked to visibility. After all, countries that scored higher for having no issues with neighbors of different ethnicity and religions were those that were more ethnically and religiously diverse. Similarly, countries that showed tolerance for people living with HIV/AIDS reported high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. The four countries mentioned above that are more tolerant towards homosexuality have shown either vocal support for LGBT rights in laws or the established presence of a community.
Can intolerant views can be changed through experience and personal encounters? Leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter @rafeeeeta