10 African women who are breaking the barriers of travel29 Mar 2018, Posted by Travel Watch in
It’s a brave thing to pack your bags and set off for a totally new place— alone. We crave the familiar. We feel cosy in the arms of certainty. We are constantly going back to the places of memory. And in Africa, where travel for leisure has only recently become affordable and accessible for many people, it’s totally unfamiliar ground. Especially for women.
So when someone breaks free from the bonds that bind them to the places of warm nostalgia to seek novel adventures, new things to behold and to create opportunities for another realm of nostalgic feelings, we look to them to see what we can learn. How can we too break free? The leaps and journeys that these awesome women have taken give us some clues.
KENYA / THE BACKPACKER
Wangechi is a lover of travel, adventure, culture and laughter who hails from Kenya. She says of herself, “I am a marketer by profession and a traveller by passion. My inquisitive mind, my adventurous nature, my insatiable need to learn more about my environment, thus led to me becoming a solo, female backpacker and I’m loving it.”
Wangechi says she has travelled to over 20 countries and has been to over 200 towns. She says this has been in an effort to “learn about different cultures… to break stereotypes, inspire others to travel and to promote World Peace and Love.”
On her travel bucket list she has already ticked off hiking both Mt. Kilimanjaro (highest point 5895M) and Mt. Kenya (Uhuru Peak 4895M). She has backpacked through Northern Kenya, hung out with Rastafarians in Ethiopia and volunteered in India where she visited the Taj Mahal, rode elephants and touched tigers. She has also visited Bali and named an island in the Seychelles (Sheshi Island).
NIGERIA, GABON / THE TRAVELLING TEACHER
Born in Gabon and raised in Nigeria, Budapest, Hungary and multiple locations in the USA, our next adventurer was a traveller before she knew it. She simply goes by the name ‘Tosin’ and currently works as a science teacher in Bangkok, Thailand.
She says that growing up in multiple cities encouraged the traveller inside her. At 26 she has already travelled to 42 countries. These include China, Taiwan, Australia, Colombia, The Netherlands and India.
“Travel,” she says, “means leaving your comfort zone to experience something bigger than you. To see different way of living and being. To try new food or participate in a cultural activity. Travelling means finding a little bit more of yourself and becoming the best version of you.”
For new travellers, her advice is, “You have to just leap. It will be scary. Things will come up. The most important part is that you leap. Once you spark the travel fire inside of you, it will never fade away.”
SOUTH AFRICA / THE ROAD TRIPPER
On June 13, 2017, 80-year-old Julia Albu inspired a new sense of wanderlust in thousands of younger people when she set off on a solo road trip from her home city, Cape Town, to Cairo in her 1997 Toyota Conquest which had done 400,000km before the journey began. Why would an 80-year old woman take all the risks associated with travelling alone in a vehicle that came of the production line when many of the people who followed her journey on Instagram were still barely toddlers. Her response, “When you’re my age, what have you to fear?”
Mid-January this year, 7 months and about 15,000km later, Julia drove into Cairo.
She now plans to drive to London where her dream is to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II for her 81st birthday.
During her trip, she’s raising funds for Shine Literacy, an organisation which offers literacy support programmes in 66 primary schools in South Africa.
Julia has four children and nine grandchildren.
SOUTH AFRICA / THE SOLO WANDERA
Her full name is Mukhatshelwa Nzama. Her full zest for life cannot be captured on a single page or in a whole book. In November 2014 Katchie set off on a solo journey through Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo, using public transport. There was much disbelief when among her friends and family when she announced her plans, but she did it anyway and came back home in April 2015 with many beautiful memories and a renewed enthusiasm for travel.
Her next plan was to travel, using public transport again, down the west coast of Africa, beginning right at the top in Tunisia, round through West Africa and ending off in South Africa. She started this journey in June last year. It took her through 21countries in an adventure of a lifetime.
“I discovered sacred lands in Sierra Leone where I also survived the mudslides, learned more about the trans-Atlantic slave trade in Ghana, swam in the black beaches of Cabo Verde and Sao Tome and Principe, hiked through central Africa where there is absolutely no public transport from one point of the country to the next, visited a Himba village in Namibia and hiked through the mountains of Morocco just to mention a few places.”
Katchi loves learning languages. She can speak 11 South African languages. She says her passion is decolonising African travel and showcasing the best of African destinations, one country at a time.
EGYPT / THE STEREOTYPE BREAKER
Omniya Fareed Shafik
An article from Emirates Woman described Ominya’s travel exploits in this way; “It’s like something from Eat, Pray, Love, an Arab woman has done what most of us could only dream of (because we are too petrified to actually do it) – quit her job and embarked on a life changing journey.”
Ominya, originally from Egypt, moved to Dubai for work in the banking industry before she decided that all she wanted to do was travel. That was in 2013. Since then she has been to South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, The Czech Republic and Norway among other countries.
The social media posts from her travels became so popular she was commissioned to as a freelance travel writer.
She says the first time she set off on her own it was really confusing. “But now, it’s a piece of cake. The more you travel and learn about things and people and cultures, the easier it gets.”
NIGERIA / THE TRAVEL INSPIRER
Ufuoma’s big mission is to inspire others, particularly people of colour, to travel. Her romance with travelling started when she moved from Nigeria to Canada for her Master’s degree. She says, “That one singular act changed everything and infused a passion for travel in my life.”
She has travelled to 25 countries so far. On her blog, she says, “Some of my best travel experiences include sand-duning in the deserts of Peru, horseback riding in Cuba’s countryside and exploring the natural hot springs in Costa Rica.”
She also says that her Nigerian passport makes it difficult to travel around the world as she needs visas for so many countries, but that has not deterred her. Neither has a full-time job which she has to work around to fit in all her travel adventures.
Her take on people of colour and travelling is, “We are largely underrepresented in the travel space and I’d love to make travel a lot more attainable for all of us.”
NIGERIA / THE SYSTEMS ENGINEER
She states, “I started this blog to show people (especially Nigerians) how rewarding it can be to travel both locally and internationally. To be honest, though, it’s not all fun and games. For international travel, we need a visa to almost every country in the world and the application process can be very tedious and discouraging. Even after several stamps on my passport, I still bite my nails in anticipation for my visa when applying to a new country. But it’s all worth it in the end. The journey and experiences are absolutely priceless!”
Amarachi has been to 26 of the 27 states in Nigeria. She has travelled to Benin Republic, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, United Arab Emirates, India, Belgium, England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the Vatican City.
Her favourite travel memories? “Some of the best experiences I’ve had so far have included, paragliding off Table Mountain in South Africa, going on a hot air balloon ride in the Serengeti and my first group tour in Idanre.”
KENYA / THE GLOBAL ACTIVIST
Caroline Achieng Otieno
Caroline is a human rights activist from Kenya with a Master’s degree in International Law. She is passionate about women’s rights and the protection of children.
She came to travel early in her life, “I have always loved to travel, and began international travel at the age of six, and haven’t quite put my itchy feet to rest. Though I spend the most time in either Kenya, the Netherlands or Singapore; I consider myself a global citizen who prefers to be referred to as a ‘wanderluster, globetrotter or world-traveller.’”
She has travelled to Belgium, Cambodia, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Kenya, Latvia, Malaysia, Malta, Moldova, Poland, Somalia and the United Kingdom among other countries.
KENYA / THE ADRENALIN SEEKERS
Amy Wahome & Linda Matama
Amy Wahome and Linda Matama seem to go out looking for the most adventurous things to do out there. When they are not at work, doing their day jobs in communications and marketing respectively the two can be found bungee jumping, scaling mountains or swimming with sharks.
They have known each other for over 5 years now and in that time have ticked off a travel bucket list so long it would span a lifetime for many.
They have bungee jumped off the Victoria Falls bridge, ziplined across the same falls, scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya and have swum with Sharks in South Africa, to mention a few of their adventures.
Amy told Kenya’s Daily Nation last year that one didn’t need yo be rich to travel. “You don’t have to rob a bank or have a million shillings in your account to see the world. It’s about saving and working towards a goal. Do something for yourself. You can start by visiting our local attraction sites.”
In order to fit travel into their busy lives, the two friends put together a travel diary at the beginning of the year. They say that this enables them to put a budget together. By booking in advance they can take advantage of low season rates and other discounts.
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