Many of my friends asked me if I was not afraid of travelling to Africa, a dangerous place, according to them. My answer was always NO. Africa is not a dangerous place, rather a beautiful continent with lot of goodness in it. My first trip to Africa was in 2004, with a journey to Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique in Southern Africa. Subsequently, I travelled extensively in Africa, crisscrossing all the regions, and covering 33 countries in a span of 15 years. I flew as well as travelled by road within Africa. The journeys by road gave me wonderful moments of enjoying the raw-beauty of the hinterlands of Africa, and a few noticeable ones: 10-hour bus travel from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to Niamey, Niger; 12-hour trip from Conakry, Guinea to Freetown, Sierra Leone; a 40-hour car-and-bus journey from Freetown to Monrovia, Liberia; and many such trips.
I am fortunate to have my footprints on both sub-Saharan Africa as well as North African countries like Morocco, Egypt, etc. For the information sake, sub-Saharan Africa is that part of Africa which geographically lies south of the Sahara, the largest hot desert in the world, which forms 31% of Africa. Out of the 54 African countries, except the 5 North African countries, the remaining ones come under sub-Saharan Africa though there is an issue of classification as the Sahara passes through the sub-Saharan countries like Chad, Niger, Mali, and Sudan.
There are conflicts in Africa like in many other parts of the Globe, but these are either political or the ones related to utilization and ownership of natural resources. Africa has got around 30% of the world’s mineral resources and 40% of the gold deposits so has many conflicts. On a social-front, Africa is a good, safe place for expatriates, with Africans showing high-level of hospitality to visitors. Plenty of successful business men in Africa are immigrants, especially Indians and Lebanese, and that was made possible thanks to the receptiveness of Africans. It is a continent where thousands of Indians and Lebanese made their homes and became Dollar millionaires. Those Indian who were on the Pakistan side during the Partition faced immense cruelty and had to flee, and they relocated themselves around the Globe, including Africa; similarly, the Lebanese fleeing from the civil wars in their country. Africa welcomed these people with open arms and allowed them to flourish. Furthermore, thousands of Indians and other nationalities are working as well as doing business in Africa, making their livelihood. I, too, owe a lot to Africa for whatever progress I made in my career!
There are a few trouble-spots that one has to be careful about while travelling in Africa. Johannesburg and Lagos are in the list of a few cities where it is better for visitors to have a local person to accompany him/her while venturing out, and one has to be careful while going out in the night in these cities. Well, then, many cities in the world have certain places that one should not go to during night, and these African cities can be counted in that way. I never came across any news or reports of an African man sexually or physically assaulting an expatriate woman. Indians and Lebanese employ African men and women for household works, leaving their families with these people, sometimes only African men, when they go to their offices — such is the kind of confidence the expats have on African men. The safest cities that I visited in Africa: Kigali, Rwanda; Accra, Ghana; Dakar in Senegal; Niamey, Niger; and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
One caution you need to take while in Africa is to always keep in the back of the mind the threat of Malaria and look for its symptoms: body pain, headaches and fever. Never does dismiss these symptoms as ordinary fever and self-medicate. Malaria can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated on time, and I know a few cases where people died of Malaria due to the delayed treatment or self-medication. I got Malaria three times so far while in Africa. There are four types of Malaria that need different medications of 4 days, 7 days and 15 days. Hence, if you undergo Malaria medication, always do a test for the presence of Malaria parasites after completing the medication. There are prophylactic medicines against Malaria.
Thankfulness is a virtue that I found across Africa. The Africans are a thankful lot. If we get an opportunity to extend any small, positive gesture/assistance, it is rewarded with a smile and a thankful message of “God bless you and your family.” And they will remember you, smile at you and say “Hello” to you when they see you even after many years. One admirable thing about Africa, especially West Africa, is that women have visible presence in every field: in business, in governance, in labor market and even as porters at wholesale markets. It is not uncommon to see women carrying heavy loads of goods on their heads and working as porters at wholesale markets. Woman hawkers moving around with a head-load and with a kid wrapped in a piece of cloth and wound around her, with the baby resting on her back, is heart-wrenching scene at the markets. They are a kind of heroes left unsung. May God bless them with good health and happiness.
Three are many more good things and stories to tell and write about Africa from my experiences. I will write about them in future through blogs of each countries I visited. Unfortunately, there is a prejudice that Africa is unsafe but that is not true. I can vouch that Africa is a safe place. I found Africans sociable, friendly and good people. I like them, and I ❤ Africa. May God bless Africa and the Africans!.