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African travel for African people

It's difficult for Africans to travel on the continent for multiple reasons, but can you imagine the spectacular documentation that would occur if we did? Africa and I offers just that
Thu, Sep 02, 2021

Travelling while black, like billionaires riding flammable phalluses to the sky, is something many of us who have the means would love to participate in. Thanks to a number of fairly obvious and emotionally draining reasons, instances of black people travelling (especially beyond the borders of their own countries) for leisure have been relatively rare.

This is one of the reasons you see so few travel shows starring the blessed and highly melanated. The same goes for adventure travel. Thanks to our myriad struggles, few people of a darker hue are keen on the idea of trekking across continents with a bicycle, a tent and a charming smile. That's what drew me to Africa and I.

As a fan of the adventures of lunatics like Riaan Manser, Rob Lilwall and Ranulph Fiennes, I had always been struck by how incredibly pale and be-testicled they all were. To my delight, Africa and I, is different.

The film tells the story of Othmane Zolati, a young Moroccan, who one day decides to see if he can get from his home country to Cape Agulhas with just over R1,000 in his pocket. The 30 000km trip takes him more than four years to complete, during which time he catches malaria three times, almost gets caught in a war, gets lost and very nearly dies of exhaustion in the desert.

To make matters worse, by the end of his journey he is sporting the kind of dirty dreadlocks that are only appropriate at AfrikaBurn.

There are definitely criticisms that could be levelled against the film. At times it feels a little like Africa travel-porn and it is easy to imagine that an Arab-looking man may have a slightly easier time travelling through the continent than Thamsanqa from Lusikisiki. Thami's sister Milasande would definitely struggle more. In the same breath, is that not exactly why it needs to be done?

In the quest to have blackness be something that isn't monolithic, it would be wonderful to watch the stories of people who were crafted by the sun meandering through their home continent on some kind of Gen-Z style Eat, Pray, Love journey.

Those would be the same people who could give a much more well-rounded depiction of the continent that gave us all life.

Furthermore, this would mean that these stories wouldn't always have to be an arduous tale of survival, but rather a kind of home video in the backyard of a family home which has a portal to Narnia.

Plus, we do just generally need more, queer folks, black people and POCs on travel shows because we all know that when our white and cisgender friends tell us travel stories, we have questions that they can't answer.

So panoramic or nah, let's get more of us travelling and documenting it. In fact, I'll even volunteer myself.

If someone can get me a GoPro, a bicycle, three months of leave and enough money to make sure that when I get home I haven't been evicted, then I'll take a trip from Johannesburg to Kigali and film it so you can all laugh. Just know that from that moment on, my Instagram bios will be insufferable.

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