The Talmud Yerushalmi (Sotah 9:13) asks why Shmuel Hakatan was called "Hakatan", and it provides two explanations:
ולמה נקרא שמו קטן לפי שהוא מקטין עצמו ויש אומרים לפי שמעט היה קטן משמואל הרמתי
And why was his name called "katan" (small)? Because he diminished himself. And some say because he was slightly lesser than Shmuel Haramati.
Based off of Wikipedia (and as per @JoelK's comment) they seem to be 2 different people.
1) Eliakim son of Hilkiah
Eliakim son of Hilkiah, succeeded Shebna to become finance minister for King Hezekiah of Judah
Wikipedia says King Hezekiah's reign was between 715 and 686 BC.
2) Jehoiakim son of Josiah (fka as "Eliakim")
was a king of Judah from 609 ...
Why would people assume that “Afriki” is Africa?
Because that's how the Greeks (whose influence on Judaism and many other cultures is well documented) spell and pronounce the word Αφρικη until this very day.
Other than the name being similar to the English one, why would one assume that אפריקי in the Gemara has anything to do ...