I made my first trip to Africa in 2016. I visited the costal state of Ghana, Africas first nation to gain its indepedendence from Colonial Hegemony. The nation wrested its freedom from the brutality and exploitation of the United Kingdom. It was a proud time, and I was able to witness those commemorations through visits and tours to national landmarks, museums and slave castles.
This is part one of my quarterly autobiographical journals available for download at lelawinston.com. As promised, I chronical some of my experiences abroad and offer to answer questions or assist you in a similar endeavor. I think it might provide some very good insight for those who travel or are thinking about taking a trip. This is the first in the series.
Part one is complementary and I have divided it into four questions. The next three for the year are $10.99USD to download/stream.
What has your experience been like?
One of the biggest points to remember is that short-term leisure travel is vastly different from longer stays. Countries that you thought were fantastic and lovely, can become boring, socially restrictive, or inept after greater exposure. If you are from a developed country, downsizing to underdeveloped countries can be a challenge. The amenities, infrastructure, choices and leisure opportunities may be limited. As it pertains to Africa, I highly recommend travel and living in Southern African states. Southern Africa has the greatest level of development and organization. While I love West Africa and would love to live in a condo above Ikoyi or Lekki Phase 1, I dont think I could manage the infrastructure or the “small-small” that is everywhere. Great questions to ask yourself when visiting, is if the place feels like somewhere you’ve been before and if so, did you like it. Try to find a country that offers the most conveniences to the general population.
What is the biggest challenge?
Challenges are definitely real in Africa. For most counrtries there, development has been slow. Without the support of the Chinese and even India, many of these countries would still be just resource colonies. In fact, in March 2023, Russia cancelled, 20 billion in Africa debt. When I heard about it, I literally cried. It’s hard to love Africa and see it struggle so much. I love to see people everywhere thrive. The biggest challenge I’ve found is navigating systems that in theory should work, but don’t. Efficiency and organization would revolutionize African nations. From the first day I set foot in Africa, I realized Africa’s biggest problem was not really development, but disorganization and mismanagement. It feels like herding cats at times, and I often wonder if this is a side effect of intergenerational trauma from Colonialism.
What shocked you most?
Colonial mentality. Some things you don’t know you don’t know, until you know. I didnt think that was a real thing until I came to Africa. In fact Africans are not alone in their struggle with the mentality. Other nations and cultures were colonized too. Interestingly, I am able to see similarities between African and Native American men on reservations in their plight. I think somewhere deep down inside, African men feel like they’ve lost something. And so then I can appreciate those who wish to hold on to their sovereignity and territory, because the alternative seems like a kind of male hell on earth. There also appears to be a pervasive striving to be better than other African tribes, but never other races. It also seems fairly easy to create strife between any two tribes of Africans. This means the experience of an unsuspecting Black American or Afro-Caribbean will be vastly different from a Latinx or Swede. There always seems to be some illogical contoversy that can’t seem to be resolved rationally, with respect and decorum; and as a foreigner, this baffles me daily.
What do you like least and most about the experience?
Lets start with what I like least so I may end on a good note. I don’t like the misogyny. In some regions men can very aggressive and even appear to be angry at women–and I’m not actually sure why that is . . . Nor have I experienced or seen it at such a high level before. I don’t like the plight of women in some societies. Particularly married women–it is as if within 2-3 years they become the unattractive family slave. But these are things that I get to minimize by living intentionally and mindfully. I find there are tons more freedom for women in better developed economies. So factor this in when choosing a location.
But, I do like the autonomy Africa affords an expat. Particularly as a Black American, accustomed to living in hostile spaces in the West. African countries offer a contrast. As a vegetarian, I can generally find the foods I eat, portions are smaller so calorie intake is pre-regulated. And of course, there is plenty of sun for melenated people like me who use it to produce vitamin D. There are pros and cons; but you will decide what is best for you.
Do you recommend it?
Yes, I recommend travelling and living abroad generally–short term, long term or forever. Whatever suits you. But don’t limit yourself to one region or continent. The world is a big, fine place full of exciting and lovely places. Living abroad, no matter where you travel, gives you better perspective on yourself, culture and the world. Travel has made me more secure and happy in my own skin, my own culture and background. But if you do decide on Africa, focus on the southern states. Particularly, for black people born and raised in developed countries, you will appeciate the convenience, organization and efficiency, because the novelty of living in a deeply underdeveloped country does wear off. In West Africa, Ghana and Ivory Coast offer more standard amenities. Kenya also has some great options too.
Overall, it should be a carefully thought out and planned personal choice, no matter the length of stay. I offer help and consulting for people moving abroad, travelling, setting up a enterprise or in need of a guide. I can help you expand your businss abroad, find property, monitor your projects and provide feedback reports.
PS: And if you’re around my way, book with me for a tour or a geo/political discussion/debate.