Malaria kills many thousands each year but it very rarely kills those who can afford the right medication. Before you travel to Africa you need to check with your doctor to get the right prophylactic. Make sure you tell your doctor what countries in Africa you'll be traveling to, since some malaria strains have become resistant to common prophylactics like chloroquine. I've had malaria several times and while it's not a pleasant experience, in my case it wasn't any worse than getting the flu. Once you take the right cure, you're usually on your feet again in a couple of days.
Personally I tend to get lazy about taking malaria prophylactics, they don't taste good and they make me feel a bit nauseous. But if you only have a few weeks to spend on your vacation you don't want to ruin it by getting sick. There are plenty of ways to avoid getting malaria: Using a mosquito net at night or spraying plenty of DEET around your ankles at sundown are two ways to avoid it. If you're interested in learning more, you can find more tips in my article How to Avoid Malaria While Traveling in Africa.
Image of Malaria Distribution Area in Africa based on information from the CDC