2019 marks the 400th year since the beginning of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which disrupted the African ancestral tethering for the years to follow. With this monumental year, many displaced Africans in the diaspora have been traveling in and out of the West African region for various reasons throughout. Although, for the ones who have waited for the Dry season months, there is definitely some hope for enjoyment in the reconnection process.
Hold up, though! Before you pack your suitcases and board your flights to Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, or any West African country for the holidays, there are some mental and physical steps you must first take. Continue below for 5 things you should do before landing on the continent for your grand return this year.
5 Things to do in preparation for your West African vacation
1. Forget everything you’ve been told
The African continent is admittedly not the best marketed dream vacation spot in the world (thank you western media). However, that’s exactly what it is – a dream vacation spot, especially over here on the west coast. While there is some truth to what you have seen or read about the continent, a lot of it is exaggerated for shock value, and reasons best known to the authors of those stories. In any case, the west coast of Africa is a dream vacation area during this time of the year, with its tropical landscapes, diverse architecture, exciting people, intense cultures, delicious foods, and so much more. With access to all of this at the tip of your fingers, the best way to enjoy it in all its glory is to let go of any preconceived notions you may harbor about this region, and allow yourself have the best possible experience it has to offer you.
2. Research the country/region prior to your visit
Before visiting any country in the world, it is important you research what awaits you in said country. The countries of West Africa are no different. Though often clumped into oneness, each country has its own requirements for entry, cultural traditions/laws which must be respected, and ways of life which should be adopted for the time being. As such, social media hashtags and the google search engine are your friends during this time. If those mediums are too broad, keep tuned here to the Koloqua Dialogues, as we will be sharing tips throughout the holiday season to guide your travels.
3. Open your mind to trying/learning new things and ways of life
With everything in life, an opened mind can get you as far as you are willing to go. West Africans can be very hospitable and accommodating depending only on your attitude. If you come to this side thinking and acting like a big shot, that’s exactly how you will be treated. However, if you come showing humility and an openness to the people and their ways of life, you are more likely to learn something and make lasting friendships.
4. Pack appropriately for ALL your ‘Away from home’ needs
As advanced as we’d like to think the continent is getting, it still has many limitations as to what is available and what isn’t. As such, bring everything you think you’ll need along with you, especially when it comes to medical needs. Likewise, if you are traveling with children, be sure to pack enough of their favorite snacks, as it won’t always be available. Most importantly though, use the research mention prior to pack an outfit for whatever type of events you wish to attend during your stay, as many people in Africa are used to getting clothes custom-made. Being new to this side, custom-made may be too much of a risk, so be sure to pack appropriately for your trip’s needs.
5. Have fun, but don’t burn yourself out trying to keep up
This year in the region is INTENSE! As such, it is important that you again, research, and choose which events to attend, in which order. If you mind the lineup and don’t pace yourself, you run a huge risk of burning out too early and spoiling your entire trip. So please pace yourself, make a to-do/to-see list, visit the people you need to, meet some of your internet friends (safely), and attend the events of your choice. Again, a whole lot of vacation fun awaits you on this side (think Spain, Columbia, Jamaica, or Florida), but how you manage it all is entirely up to you.