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Any other Black Americans visit Africa to see their ancestral homeland?

Any other Black Americans visit Africa to see their ancestral homeland?

Mar 21st, 2007, 06:53 AM
  #1  
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Any other Black Americans visit Africa to see their ancestral homeland?

When I became old enough to travel on my own I saved my money to travel to Africa. As a Black Man who grew up in a White dominated town in Iowa, I never felt comfortable. I wanted to visit and possibly move to Africa and see my ancestral homeland.

I spent a significant amount of time looking into where my Great Great Grandparents came from in Africa. I found out they came from Nigeria. Landing in Logos my early expectations of Africa were dashed. I expected it to be more modern and efficent. I expected less poverty. I had seen pictures of of the modern African Cities in the media and expected Logos Nigeria to be just like America except everyone would be dark skin. I hated Nigeria and wanted to leave sooner than scheduled. The last few days of my trip was spent in the Hotel waiting for my scheduled departure depressed and angry.

Is Africa all like this and is it as disappointing to you as it was to me?
thedingler is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:03 AM
  #2  
 
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Nigeria may not have been the best introduction to West Africa. I know that other more tourist-friendly nations, like Ghana for instance, organize visits for African Americans, and I have heard very positive things about those trips. I have visited Ghana, and while I am caucasion, I did visit a lot of historic sites, many of which were associated with the slave trade, and they are very moving and organized. You may want to consider a trip to Ghana (its also English speaking), which receives a lot of tourists -- Delta has also recently initiated direct flights from JFK to Accra, Ghana.

Michael
thit_cho is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:46 AM
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I would love to go to the western side of Africa to get that 'ancestral' sort of connection.

In my family's travel through East Africa, they specifically saw us as American tourists first. Other Black people have told me that they have even been called "Mzunga", which is a term for a White person.

I think many Black Americans go to Africa (even the Western side) with way too high an expectation. They think locals will be so thrilled to see them and will be like "Welcome Home Brother!"

For the most part it really doesn't work out like that.
waynehazle is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:47 AM
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I apologize for your trip being less than but I must ask how much research did you put into Nigeria itself. Being from Uganda myself, I find that many black americans speak of returning to the land of their ancestors but with little preparation of the area they plan to visit. Is all of Africa like as you described? NO - but a lot of it is and one would be foolish to say otherwise. I implore you to revisit, perhaps South Africa. On par with America with regards to conveniences and a chance to learn history and appreciation for the freedom fighters of the past since the rights of blacks is a fairly recent thing. Or East Africa, other parts of West Africa, Egpyt even. It would be amiss to write off an entire continent because of one bad experince that held emotional ties. If what you seek is a sea of black faces amidst prosperity and advancement, stay in America. Africa is what it is and it's up to you to find her beauty amongst the sadness. What she offers is a land of great beauty, much of it only recently accesible to every budget. You will find people who are greatful for all they have as little as it may be. But first I would spend some time reassessing what it is you expected to find.

Best of luck,
Juliet
julimbo is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 09:47 AM
  #5  
 
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I must agree with the other posters. I think that no matter where you go in Africa (or the rest of the world for that matter), culturally you would be considered American, which is the truth. You *are* American.

With a little more research in your area of interest you may have developed different expectations. I think this can be generalized to travel anywhere though.

I think that for a large part in America assumptions about you and your culture are based on the color of your skin.

I am basing this strictly on first impressions. As people get to know you, you may or may not confirm their assumptions.

I think Africans' (and other people in the world) first impressions of Americans are that they are wealthy. The trappings of wealth, rather than skin color make a bigger impact. Black or white (or other) one is perceived to be American first.

The history of race relations in West Africa is very different from that in America and ths has led to entirely different perceptions.

I have often thought that it would be more accurate to compare tribalism in Africa to racism in America.
Femi is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 09:48 AM
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p.s. Just saw waynehazle's reply and have to agree 100%. I was born there and spent my childhood in East Africa but I'm just as much a tourist to locals as anyone else on this board.

Juliet
julimbo is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 11:46 AM
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Though I must admit every shop owner that wanted me to buy something immediately recognized me as his long lost family. Though I wasn't close enough family to get a huge discount

They have learned commercialism quite well
waynehazle is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 05:33 PM
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that's hilarious.

were called mzungu everywhere and were told it meant "foreigner" as my se asian friends (indian ancestry) who make up large portions of populations are also called mzungu (and they're not white).

kerikeri
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Mar 21st, 2007, 05:34 PM
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hilarious is waynehazle's comment, not op's.

i felt like that some days in africa - just wanted to hide in my room. it's not an easy place to travel, regardless.
kerikeri is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 06:58 PM
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I have had casual conversations (not as a guest) with black employees at quite a few lodges in Southern and East and they often ask me why more (or any as some have never had a black American guest) American blacks don't visit. I give them my thoughts but tell them I am only guessing as I am not black. In any event, they would not just see a black American as an American and would be thrilled to see them visit.
tuckeg is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:58 PM
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Don't know for sure but our guide told us that mzungu meant white man.
cybor is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 05:43 AM
  #12  
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Mzungu does mean white man. Wazungu = a whole bunch of white folks!

As to why more American blacks don't/haven't traveled to East Africa - had this conversation with a dear friend, a very prominent black man (in government and major corporations) shortly after my 2nd trip to Africa (year's ago). He asked whether I had seen many of his dark-hued clanned brother/sister Americans, to which I answered "no" - at least not out on safari; had met some on planes who were to be working for church organizations. His comment "guess once my people realized that their own sold them into slavery, they're content to not return; besides slavery took place from all of Africa to all parts of the world."

Not unlike how many Jewish people who won't travel to Germany, nor buy anything German. Yes, even 60+ years since the end of WWII. But, doesn't seem to have impacted the number of Mercedes-Benz and BMWs sold!

It's a big world out there, choices (or not) for everyone.

However, while many American blacks, starting from the 60s forward have returned to West Africa, few were traveling to other areas. More recently though, especially since South Africa has opened, the numbers are increasing there; for East Africa, I've had a few black clients.

There are any number of places that can be disappointing, finding the opposite of what one expected, poverty specifically; unpaved streets; smells; illness; lack of sanitation, etc. etc. Hey, even Bangkok a major tourist destination - not a pretty city during daylight hours, grey and dirty - beautiful at night; as many children seeking handouts as in Africa and elsewhere. And, there's still plenty of poverty right here in America without indoor plumbing, dirt roads, shanty towns, ragamuffin children. We're not immune either. I'm sure visitors who may find themselves in these areas would be most disappointed in America!

As a traveler (not a tourist) you have to take your destinations for what they are - the good, the bad and the ugly. In spite of all the negatives, the good does outweigh.

The alternative would be to just never leave the comfort of home.


 
Mar 22nd, 2007, 07:53 AM
  #13  
 
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My local newspaper (in our small midwestern city) had an article day before yesterday about a local black woman who'd just returned from a visit to South Africa. She fell in love with the people, and said they all made her feel so welcome. She wants to go back as soon as she can.

I'd advise you to visit there if you can. The infrastructure makes travel easy. There is a fairly big and very growing black middle class. While South Africa certainly has poverty, it IS the richest country in Africa, and the people are the best educated, and the government is one of the most stable. I've always thought that South Africa was more like the US than it is different from the US. But it's still Africa, with all the wonder and beauty that implies.

I hope you don't let your one bad experience prevent you from giving Africa another chance.

Good luck.
Celia is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 10:26 AM
  #14  
 
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All sorts of explanations for the origins of the word mzungu here http://research.yale.edu/swahili/learn/?q=en/node/244

We heard the "to go around" version from our guide. He also said it could be used to refer to any person who is not black including me (I'm Asian).
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