It’s that time of the year; right at the cusp of Christmas when things are about to erupt in a shopping, feeding and gifting frenzy and when all is said, done and eaten…we’ll crawl with bloated bellies, out under the starry skies and watch fireworks pop as the old gives way to the new.
If you ask me, 2017 was a relatively calm year. I broke a leg in 2016
, I broke my camera in 2017
. A leg demands time and space to heal and slows one down considerably. A camera demands repair or an upgrade, but with insurance and a spare wheel, it was as good as new.
There were a couple of highlights back home on our continent. We’ve held elections, not once but twice in Kenya…and there was regime change in Zimbabwe. I must admit, Zim was a big surprise. The army took over in one of the most peaceful revolutions witnessed on the African continent. Many folks never thought they’d live to see the end of Mugabe’s era, and especially not in this military-style ‘is it a coup or not
‘ kinda way.
My personal highlight would ideally be the time I spent frolicking on Montenegro
‘s beautiful sun-kissed beaches; but it was not…(though I so needed that downtime); rather it was the Bonn
Sitting through some of the plenary sessions, I felt the conference was ‘missing’ some people; the political satirism of the XYZ show would have been a good fit here me thinks. I hope the organizers of the Deutsche Welle 2018 conference
will include the XYZ show in their conference next year.
I also missed the presence of seasoned African journalists. Getting visas in time may or may not have been part of the challenges faced as an impediment to them attending this important media conference.
I’m eager nevertheless, to see where this coming year will take us. The us being the media fraternity. I know I will spend part of 2018 on the African continent.
I’d love to see more representation of the African continent when it comes to the global travel blogging conversations; more and more Africans are trotting the globe which is a good thing. Europe is a favorite of many due to the abundance of travel possibilities buoyed up by great infrastructure, curated budget trips and the strict adherence to time and schedules. Things run smoothly in Europe like a well oiled machine.
Asia is another favorite because they take tourists seriously. The region is backpacker friendly with cheap living (depending on the country, of course) a variety of exotic tasty food, hospitable locals and lots to do and see.
Africa as a region treads slowly behind as everything is geared to those with deep pockets. As an example, I stayed in a four star-hotel in Bangkok
for six days and spent roughly 100 dollars equivalent…If I booked a four-star hotel in Nairobi for the same price, it would likely offer me just a day with very few perks if any. Then in almost every country on the continent, there are different rates; much cheaper for residents and wildly overpriced for non-residents.
We should visit Africa nevertheless, we should try to at least, mostly because Africa is not a country but is a continent teeming with ambitious and talented locals having a burning desire to show you their countries and to shake off every stereotype shadowing or boxing them into a single narrative, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie so articulately expressed in her piece, “The danger of a single story
As a fitting ode to the close of 2017, I dedicate a whole post to kickass influencers based on the continent. These influencers have sparked and lead conversation in their individual capacities. They remain authentic to their art, and it has been a blast following their journeys vicariously. Mostly, they help me feel connected and a little less homesick, as they share stories and take Instagram worthy shots.
So here goes in no particular order;
Irene Koki Mutungi
My last memory of Irene just before connecting with her again on Facebook and Instagram, was of this spunky, sportive friendly girl. She grew up and went on to train as a pilot. That’s right. A pilot. In 2014, she became the first female African pilot to fly the Kenya Airways Boeing dreamliner. I hope that on one of my gambols she’ll be the captain of the flight. I so look forward to that day.
If you live in the East, South or Central African region, and are a young middle class girl or guy, you surely must have heard or read Jackson’s work. He has a mastery of word play and descriptive writing; and makes his audience feel like a fly on the wall as he draws them into everyday occurrences in his world. A couple of his stories that have gone viral include; ‘Visa denied
,’ ‘Letter to Kenyans abroad
‘ and the sad and shocking tale of a woman’s life in the Democratic Republic of Congo captured in, ‘There were birds but they did not sing
.’ Biko has garnered several awards in his capacity as a freelancer contributing on several platforms like his blog, Msafiri, True Love, Business daily and Mantalk
. He has written a book
, and holds a Master Class every quarter or so.
Martha is a freelance arts, entertainment and travel writer as well as a weekly columnist living in Windhoek, Namibia. She is a wordsmith extraordinaire with an entertaining way of presenting her stories; be it daily life in Namibia, or critiquing restaurants in the region or travel tales in South East Asia. Some of her stories that have gone viral include; Traveling while African
, the logical reaction
, hello chocolate
and two travelers
. Her work can be viewed at the Namibian, Matador Network, Quartz or even on her personal blog.
Chick about town
Looking to travel within the East African region? Your best bet for loads of info would be the Chick about Town blog
. She gives entertaining stories and never shies away from controversy. Her honesty and sass always keeps us coming to her blog for more, whether her writing gives directions to great products and services within the region, or even her favorite contraceptives.
I went to Mogadishu in the summer of 2015, a longtime dream that had finally come to fruition. Ugaasaada
was one of the people I stumbled upon while researching about life in Mogadishu before I left for Somalia. What begun as humorous clips showcasing daily life in Somalia for Somalis living in the diaspora has grown into Instagram stardom
as Ugaasadda humanizes the Somali capital.
Any other African influencers I have left out but you feel should have made this list? Please mention them in the comment section below.