Travelling can be a life changing experience. Going beyond familiar borders opens up a world of new ideas and experiences otherwise unknown. Whatever you thought you knew becomes dwarfed when compared to the new possibilities found in other lands and cultures. Developing new relationships and sampling new foods builds character and adaptability. This post will highlight books on traveling inside the US and abroad from an African American perspective. Most of the books selected are by authors of African ancestry except for the “Lonely Planet'' book. It alone covers 14 countries.
BLACK TRAVEL BOOKS
I will always reflect on my first trip back to the Motherland. Going to Africa served as a symbol of victory given the plans colonialism had for our people. Just the idea of reconnecting with my heritage brought profound joy and happiness. While I had a theoretical appreciation for our homeland, I knew that it would never take the place of putting feet on the ground. I looked forward to it with much anticipation and felt it of great importance to my evolution as a person.
Preparation for the trip was straight forward. Get passport, get vaccinated, and pack. Well, two out of three wasn’t bad. I ended up bypassing the vaccination because I happened to mention to the doctor that I was allergic to eggs. She dashed out of the room and returned with an exemption letter and stamped my passport accordingly. While I didn’t want to take the vaccine, I was prepared to take it. Apparently, there was some contraindication with the vaccine? I don’t know, to this day I take it as one of those unexplainable protective spiritual events extended to me at important times in my life; for this, I gave thanks.
I remember the day I traveled as if it was yesterday, but the year was 1998. After 12+ hours and a stop over in London, I was extra ready to be there. The whispers amongst the passengers gave away our arrival in Ethiopia before the pilot made the announcement. As we approached, I looked out the plane window as the pilot circled that final loop before descending to the runway. The plane was tilted down to get a full view of the landscape. From this altitude, my eyes were bathed in a sea of lush greenery with tiny huts scattered throughout. I thought to myself, this is not a drill, this is the real thing. I was extremely excited to have finally made it back to my Ancestral home. It felt like a dream and I had to keep looking around at other people on the plane as a way of maintaining my awareness that this was reality. I was jumping up and down inside. I give forever thanks to the anonymous person who sponsored my trip. They knew the importance of seeing, feeling and experiencing this for myself.
The original plan for the trip was to visit 4 countries: Ethiopia, Kenya Egypt (Kemet), and finally to Ghana for a one month period. It turns out that this aggressive schedule did have to be altered because when it was time to depart to Kenya, we got word that the US embassy was bombed, so I took the advice of my hosts and decided to cancel that portion of my trip. I was still able to attend my cousin’s wedding celebration and stayed with my beloved extended family members. One of my Aunts’s married a Sudanese man and moved to Ethiopia. I felt privileged to stay amongst family as opposed to staying in a hotel. I preferred getting a better understanding of the day-to-day rhythms and authenticity of the people.
Making my way through the airport to meet my family was a story unto itself. Once we deplaned we were escorted to the customs area to sort out our passports. There were two lines, one for “aliens” that I moved into and another for locals. Not soon after getting into the line, some of the security guards motioned to me out of all in the crowd to get my attention. They seemed to be speaking in a different language so I couldn’t understand them. I then walked over to the window for the “locals” to see what was going on. They told me that I was standing in the wrong line and should be in the “local” line. I smiled from ear-to-ear saying, no, I was an American citizen. The look on their faces of disbelief said it all. They whispered to each other and looked me up and down. Finally I handed them my passport and they were in fact shocked. Over the years many people have told me that I looked like I was from Ethiopia, but I didn’t realize how closely related we were until I touched down to witness the officials, and people in the market, and basically everyone trying to speak to me in Amharic first before I had to spill the beans with my “foreign” accent. I was bashful with pride for this confirmation from strangers that in fact I had reached home.This was in fact the sweetest way to start my trip. It only got better from there.
For those who wonder if you will be embraced in Africa by the Africans, the answer is an emphatic yes! They often said, “welcome home.” It is unfortunate to hear the rumours that our continental brothers and sisters feel otherwise. Nothing is further from the truth. Just as we have African Americans who reject our African heritage, there are also continental Africans who reject our heritage, for various reasons usually related to misinformation, propaganda and a vested interest in sowing chaos amongst ourselves so that the minerally enriched lands will continue to be controlled outside of the community. Don't believe the hype you have heard from talking heads with other agendas. Talk with Africans on the continent who haven't drank the kool-aid used to divide and conquer us.
The continued confusion and misinformation about whether we are welcomed by the people in our homeland is a powerful reason for us to make our way over there to see for ourselves. Prior to my trip, media portrayals of Africa were negative; this included a continent riddled with poverty and “primitives.” When I arrived, I found the same types of buildings and business districts seen in America and much much more. I kept repeating to myself, “ it was all a lie” as I traveled from city to city. All we had been told about Africa was a lie. All of the beauty, style and historical significance of it had been misrepresented and misinterpreted. The landscape was breathtaking and inspiring. Words and pictures will never do justice to the experience gained by visiting, so all I can do is recommend that you go. This is why we should go back in droves and share the true story about the birthplace of humanity.
If your budget doesn’t allow you to go, travel within the states and visit some of the monuments in the book, “ .: The description reads, “This guidebook provides an outdoor museum of a list of over 500+ monuments and statues of prominent African Americans and historical events that have shaped history and past and present African American sculptors, through their artistic work, who have created beautiful and impressive monuments that will withstand the test of time. Start in my hometown of Chicago and visit the DuSable Museum of African History, or one of the locations on the Underground Railroad mentioned in our blogpost called, “”Black Tourism in Maywood. https://www.afriwarebooks.com/blog/black-tourism-in-maywood-illinois. Also, there are plenty of architecturally significant places to visit in Chicago in a book called, “Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago.” mentioned in another blog called, “Books on Black Chicago.” https://www.afriwarebooks.com/blog/books-on-black-chicago
As always, I appreciate that you have read through this blog post. I hope that you’ve become curious to find out more traveling to destinations significant for Black People around the world. We ask that you consider purchasing your books from our Black owned business, Afriware Books, Co. If there is a title you’d like to purchase that is not mentioned here, or could not be found on the website, feel free to email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org