The vast and varied continent of Africa has experienced massive change in the past 30 years, including the rapid spread of the HIV/Aids epidemic.
Africa has witnessed the worst genocide of modern times in Rwanda, devastating civil war in Sudan and crippling famine in Ethiopia.
But Africans, renowned for their hospitality and optimism, have also had much to celebrate with the birth of multi-party democracy in several countries, the end of apartheid in South Africa and a growing tourism industry.
What is it like to grow up and live in Africa? How has your country changed in the last 30 years and how has it affected your life? What does the future hold? Send us your stories.
A selection of your comments:
I grew up in Ethiopia, East Africa and came to the US at the young age. Growing up in Africa made me to be a happy individual with moral values. Sharing, loving and respecting is what I had in me when I left Africa. Hospitality is one of the best cultural aspects that Africa offers to her children. I hope Western culture will not destroy my motherland as I would love to raise my kids in Africa.
Liz, Oakland, CA, USA
Growing up in Africa and then travelling around in the West has given me a very balanced view of the world. I find my colleagues in the West to have a very biased and limited view of the world. Some of them thought there are only six countries in Africa!
David Karani, Helsinki, Finland
I was born in South Africa and I still live in South Africa. My country has changed tremendously during the last three decades. For instance, a number of restrictions that were introduced by the apartheid regime on Africans had been taken away. We attend educational institutions of our choices, we can be promoted at work, travel any places without prosecution, play sports of our choices, go to beaches without prosecution, participate in national vote, travel to other countries, own properties and build your future. All these changes have brought hope and I am proud to be an African. When I visited US in 2000,it became clear that something was missing in me.
Eddie Sibiya, Durban, South Africa
Living in Africa is not a story to tell. It is an experience, a lifestyle. It is everything one can dream of. Think of the sounds made by birds, rain drops on the roofs and the vegetation and wildlife. Looking at Cameroon, where I come from, there is peace. I would proudly say my country is the most peaceful on earth, with no civil war since independence. There is widespread discontent, but people remain peaceful and hope for change. We always have football, a unifying factor. This brings us together and keeps us peaceful. There is religious freedom as opposed to many other African nations. Cameroon has made me special I guess.
Growing up in Africa defines the wonderful, warm, ambitious person I am today. My years in Liberia are ones I shall never forget. Although my country has been torn apart by a brutal civil war, I still have hope, that I shall one day return to raise my family in a land so filled with milk and honey.
Verlyn Okoro, Monrovia, Liberia
I can never exchange anything to having grown up in Africa. This is a place where I just need to say "football" or "Mwanawasa" to start a conversation with absolutely anybody. And they will respond, and another will join in and the conversation will go on long after I have left. Beautiful, just beautiful.
Derick Chekwe, Lusaka, Zambia
I have very fond memories of growing up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. I enjoyed growing up among my cousins and extended family I never ever felt lonely. I only experienced how it is to be alone over here. I grew up climbing and picking fruit from trees, I have only ever bought fruit over here. What I enjoyed the most about growing up in Africa was the respect we were taught by our parents. Calling all older people by their respective titles not by their names that I miss greatly. After independence I also liked how everyone, whether black/white, were all were getting along up until power hungry people decided to spoil it all.
Daphne , now in Southampton, UK
I grew up and was raised in the rockiest area in the Rift Valley province in Kenya, a place called Kiboino in Baringo District. During the rainy seasons many things happen. First when we were younger, we would go to the stream behind our grass thatched houses and everyone would pick a single leaf. We would go upstream and align them on the river current. Then each one would follow his leaf downstream as it drifts, slowly being carried by the river current. At the stoppage points, we would declare which leaf won the race. It was so much fun as we innocently urged our leaves to race past another as if they heard us. How innocent this was! I remember those days with nostalgia here in the USA and laugh at them alone like a mad man.
Symon Kimitei, Kiboino, Kenya (now in US)
Growing up in Africa is the best thing that has ever happened to me. The village life is great. Every boy in it is your brother, and every woman in it is your mother. You are raised by all of them. Life is centred around community life, trust and love. I have a hard time finding that in the Western culture.
Kossa Diomande, Lexington, KY, USA
Growing in an African village makes one understand practically what the word co-operation means. As I child, I never felt neither lonely nor neglected. One had always someone to help in case of need and sharing all material things was a norm. A child was raised communally (and I am not referring to a period more than 30 years ago). Selfishness was virtually unknown. To date, I remember the kind of food I had. Naturally grown and eaten fresh. I believe my good health today stems from my childhood way of living. How I wish life stayed that way!
Wesley Nsomba, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The sheer happiness and contentedness is unimaginable. The African culture of village oneness is foreign in the western culture. In the African village, lack of excessive material greed and amassing excessive wealth, trains the African child to be considerate. In urban areas the western culture of greed is quickly catching up though and "corruption" as it is now called is truly an epidemic.
Simon, West Palm Beach USA
Growing up and living in Africa was a great experience both positively and negatively. Although I am residing abroad now, but I still cherish all the memories. In fact, there is no place like home. Even though Africa is still struggling politically and economically, the future is very bright. I strongly believe that Africa shall overcome all her predicament within the shortest possible time. Since Rome was not built in a day, my beloved country Nigeria is gradually making progress politically and economically. The present government is reaching out to a lot countries to come and invest in Nigeria since we are blessed with both natural and human resources. There are a lot of untapped potentials and resources in Africa.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA
I am now living in the United States of America but nothing compares to my childhood in Nigeria. Africa is a wonderland. It is blessed by God. It is home to some of the worlds most creative and kind and talented people. I remember Lagos city nights, getting oranges peeled by fruit vendors on the street. I remember attending Fela Kuti shows with my dad. I remember stories. I am sad that the world largely ignores Africa and treats her as one large black spot. Well, no matter - I know her. I love her.
Eseohe Arhebamen, New York, USA
I grew up in Nairobi when a packet of milk cost 3 Kshs, now it has risen up to 25Kshs, it has been a rollercoaster of events in Kenya, no longer is it possible for the new generation to play out in the streets during school holidays due to the insecurity, gone are the days when playing "cha mama, na cha baba" have been replaced with TV series. Looking back at growing up in Kenya made me realise that if the creativity that is shown by the children there can be bottled and marketed, Africa would the pioneers of x-box and play stations. I love growing up in Kenya because I have come to appreciate the little things that life has to offer.
Wanja, Bochum, Germany
Africa is a great place to bring up children especially teenagers. In Africa, a whole village or town brings up the child, so much discipline is instilled in the child so much so that they will never ever dream of talking back to their elders or disrespecting them in anyway. I do have fond memories of growing up in Ghana. Children are free to go outside to play with their mates without their parents fearing for their safety of being kidnapped, molested etc as is very much rampant in the western world. Oh! Celebrating Christmas in Africa, priceless!. That is the time for kids to showcase new clothes, enjoy special food (chicken, goat, cow), you name it and that special Christmas biscuit. Africa is a great place to be brought in spite of the so-called poverty and what nots that are being painted about the continent. If the continent was developed and economically sound like the western world, I'm sure they will not be the need for people to migrate for economic gains.
Growing up in Africa has in a way being a blessing to many who later or presently having a better life else where, not only does it equips you for the worst, it also leaves you with verse experience of hardship. My growing up in African has benefited me not only the cultural and political aspect but has made me a stronger person, I now live each day as it comes and try to have as much fun as possible, after all, it's a small world.
Gerald Stephen, Nigerian in Hong Kong
You want to know what life is like in Africa? Picture this, a town of one million inhabitants, about 30000 formal housing units meaning the majority is housed in outbuildings which the government is now demolishing. Where do they go? What suffering? What trauma? Nobody asks and nobody cares. Thats Africa for you.
Tut, Harare, Zimbabwe
I have great memories of my childhood. From the freedom of running around barefoot to adventures in the bush to climbing trees in a quest for wild fruit and playing house. We lit mini charcoal fires like our mums and spent lazy afternoon comparing who had the prettiest clay babies. I remember trying to understand the sums that were being taught to me in English a language I barely understood, buying food from street vendors after school for which I risked a spanking from my mum. Lovely summer holidays spent at Grandma's house where 20 or so cousins slept on the floor and ate fruit and vegetables from her garden. I miss the togetherness and laughter of those days.
Living in Africa has been a wonderful experience filled with so much warmth and happiness that surges up from the deepest part of me.
Chinemerem Gregory, Nigeria
Well Ghana was the first country from sub-Saharan Africa to gain independent. My view is that political independence is meaningless until it is linked with economic independence. I think the best place to grow up in this world is in Africa and the worse place too because of the mixture of governance. There is no stage that is so interesting and indeed makes me happier in my life other than those days I vividly remember in my childhood. Independence from colonial rule is relatively good for Ghana for it has already happened and irreversible but I think my life could have been much better if we were still under colonial rule.
Azzika Tanko Yussif, Ghanaian in Netherlands
It's simply unimaginable to those who do not live amongst the ordinary people of the continent. Life is cheap and grim. The so-called governments have no connection whatsoever with ordinary people, except through police oppressive laws, enforced by ill-trained and exceptionally brutal police forces. In Nigeria, for example, there is no practical distinction between the police and armed robbers. It is a hellish nightmare on earth.
Growing up in Africa is both good and challenging. We are politically independent though we still have a long way to go in attaining our economic independence.
Haggai, Sichalwe, Lusaka, Zambia