by Guest Contributor: Maxwell Amede
Growing up in the streets of Lagos, Nigeria I heard so many stories about people emigrating overseas in search of a better life. When they came back home to visit they told me so many stories of how beautiful these places were. That really resonated with me as I was growing up. I was fascinated by their stories. Hearing stories of these places sparked an interest in me for traveling.
But in most Nigerian households traveling for traveling sake is generally not done or discussed, except one is traveling back to their hometown to see their relatives in Nigeria. That’s all the traveling that was done. There may have been exceptional families but typically, Nigerians are not big travelers.
When I started traveling and seeing all these magnificent places, I wondered and asked myself, why exactly don’t Africans travel? Is it because we are overly spiritual? Perhaps we think if it doesn’t add to our life spiritually then of what use is it. Maybe Africans don’t see traveling as being important? More realistically, maybe it is because of immigration and travel restrictions. Even more realistically, could it be there is a hesitation about spending money on vacation? Or could it be that Africans don’t know about a lot of different places to travel? Or perhaps there is a fear of traveling and leaving one’s own comfort country. I can’t answer these questions for everyone. But I can promise once you start traveling the urge to go to the next place becomes real!
Our inability to see the value in travel has had a negative consequence on our continent. I think our inability to see the relevance and importance of travel has negatively affected the way we look at tourism in Africa. We don’t see the value of people coming to explore our land, artifacts, and foods. Take me for example. When I travel I pay money to explore the castles and museums that various countries have preserved. That is revenue and profits going into the country’s treasury, ultimately. Perhaps tourism is the way to assist our African economies. Nigeria’s GDP was $397 billion last year.
According to Mandala Research, 2018 was a great year for African-American travelers. In 2018, here in America, African-Americans spent about $63 billion in tourism! The research also showed that blacks are exploring the world like never before. African-Americans spent about 15% of our GDP on traveling. Imagine if they spent a fraction of that money going to African countries how beneficial that would be to Africa.
The question is, how many of those blacks were African? Africans should join in the exploration of the world! We can start by visiting the countries in our own continent. ECOWAS has made it easy for West Africans to travel freely within our borders. I think its time we take full advantage of it! Our similarities and differences are closer than we think.
You can’t put a price tag on making memories! What better way to make memories than by traveling and exploring God’s creation? Memories never die. I think Africans are really missing out. The world is our playground. To travel is to live.
Maxwell is an avid traveler and will be featured on The Write Thoughts as our travel writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Photo credit: Maxwell Amede.