I had the opportunity to visit the Motherland twice in 2023, but found it intriguing when quite a few of my fellow countrymen/women, asked incredulously  “how yu go a Africa so often?”  Had I visited Europe or North America twice in a year, it wouldn’t have seemed so strange to anyone.

You see, we Jamaicans were brainwashed for decades (even after independence!) into believing that the European and North American continents are the epiphany of civilization, whereas Africa is a dark undeveloped place that no one should visit.  Serious ting!!.

It may appear strange, but many Jamaicans even think of Africa as a country and not a continent made up of 54 diverse and independent nations!   This is because we have been fed so much negative crap about Africa as a whole, that most have not had the interest to research the facts for themselves.  Anyway, I plead guilty to belonging to the class of travelers who have avoided Africa for far too long!

So, for decades when traveling to faraway lands for pleasure, I had chosen some exalted city in Europe, never a country in Africa!

I was bitten by the travel bug from I was 14 years old, thanks to my parents. For it was at that age that they took me to places as diverse as Cuba (then highly developed and not yet communist), a few small eastern Caribbean islands, Montreal and New York.   So, it was from then that I decided that I wanted to see the natural beauty of the world, interact with every animal I could find, and relive history, but bypass cities and man-made edifices.

But Africa was never in my plans, because of the negative press with which I had been bombarded for decades. It was only when my Canadian friends, who went to work in Kenya, invited me to stay with them after telling me how wonderful it was there, that I decided to explore.

So, Kenya was the first country in Africa that I visited and it was a wonderful experience.  It was also then I  discovered what a fool I had been all along!  Quite frankly though, I was a bit surprised at how developed Nairobi was, because of the negative images that had been implanted in my brain for decades.(brainwashing is real and has proven to be super-effective for decades!)  Well, that’s all behind me now, for it will be Africa every time when going on long-haul trips, for there is so much to see and do and so little time.

The reality of Kenya certainly belied the propaganda that I had heard all my life.

My second trip to the Motherland took me to parts of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Robben Island (where Mandela was imprisoned for decades), and Cape Town in South Africa.

What impressed me immediately too, was how highly they respect their own currency, for that’s the only cash they accept.   Better, yet, they are so technologically advanced, that almost everyone pays with their phone.   Whether you are buying an orange on the street or a car, just pay with the swipe of your phone.   Since that eye-opening trip, it’s been Africa, all the way for me, since that eye-opening trip, it’s been Africa all the way for me.

This was all thanks to my Jamaican friend Wendy, who lives in Lusaka. She has lived and worked in Africa for more than seven years and knows areas of the Continent extremely well.

She was therefore able to guide me on how to travel, where to go, where to stay etc.

 It was a wonderful trek and I am eternally grateful as I was able to travel to places and experience things I had only heard of, but never thought I could do in this lifetime.

Up to now, I still can’t believe I saw and did the things which had only been distant dreams for decades.

Fact is, the education I received on these brief trips have been more valuable and memorable than I have accumulated in many years.

More recently, I had the opportunity to visit Ghana and even got my new name, KORLEKi.

I felt so at home in Ghana for the foods, flora, city scenes, lifestyle, fauna and even the huge gap between the rich and poor, seemed so much like ours at home.

But boy is their culture deep.  I now understand why Rita Marley made that county her home for some 20 years!

Ghanaians are also super-welcoming but interestingly, while I had been under the impression that most of the slaves that were transported to Jamaica had Ghanaian roots, on my visit there, I learnt that only 23% were from there.

Although I had long ago been told by my grandmother that our actual roots were in Sierra Leone with the Mandingo tribe, I still felt at home in Ghana and honored to be inducted into the Krobo tribe.

I also discovered that many Ghanaians are outstanding linguists, speaking French, and German due to their close association with Brussels where thousands live and work. Most also speak English very well as it is compulsory in school and they all speak many tribal languages as well.

Because I am crazy about animals, I think the country I need to return to soon is Botswana, although I still have another 48 independent nations in the homeland to sample!  You can easily do both land and river safaris in Botswana. So much to do, so little time.

Oh well, it was the insightful Lao-tzu who said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” so I should be grateful that I got the opportunity to take that single step a few years ago.

Now it’s on to the rest of the journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *