What does Africa look like in your mind?

One thing I expected to see more in Africa was woodwork and wooden art, like masks and sculptures. I’ve seen virtually none of that until our night in Nata, Botswana and they had wooden African art and metal sculptures throughout the campus. Here in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, being the tourist destination that it is, said art is everywhere from tiny trinkets to massive wood and metal sculptures the size of small cars. So now I’m left wondering if these are part of actual traditional culture in these parts or, perhaps in the case of Nata, mere decoration to feed visitors’ sense of what Africa is? My African crew did not have an answer. This leads me to our conversation over dinner last night…

African art at Nata

The six of us – three clients, three crew- ran the gamut of topics from soccer to stories of various border security guards extorting bribes (so Intrepid no longer does business in those countries) to the effects of Covid on the guides’ tourism business to how their benefits and compensation have improved since Covid to American perception of Africa (the crew say they’ve had more Americans than ever since Covid). This last one got me wondering what the average American thinks of Africa. Personally, I grew up with images of poor and starving kids in Ethiopia needing sponsors, watching the Wild Wild World of Animals with William Conrad, and later their HIV/AIDS epidemic and violence. I imagined animals on the savanna and families living in slums of abject poverty, barely surviving (or not). Other than the animals, socialization in my formative years didn’t provide a lot of positives to associate with this continent. I shared this with my crew last night and they were aghast.

So I’m curious- and would really love to hear your perspective- what have been your ideas of Africa over the years and, more importantly, today? There’s no judgment here, just a genuine curiosity to see if my perspective is a stand out or if others share a similar experience? Please leave a comment below or send me an email adventureswithwen@gmail.com.

I can’t wait to read your responses.



6 responses to “Perspectives – 12/11/22”

  1. hunbunx2 Avatar

    Wen…..You asked so I will tell you that I love to travel but never had a desire to travel to Africa because of the exact thoughts that you expressed. Poverty and unhealthy existence is what I imagined. The unrest there also frightened me. The beauty of your pictures has changed some of my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wen Avatar

      Thanks for sharing, hunbunx2! I really appreciate your perspective and that you (like I) are learning there’s far more to this beautiful continent than the limited and fear-based messaging that we’ve been fed. My heart is smiling ❤️🙏🏽


  2. thartiganblog Avatar

    Wendy, my perspectives had long been similar to yours and to some degree still are. They have been altered however over the years by my dear lifelong friend Kathleen who lived in Kenya for a year and has been back to the continent several times since.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wen Avatar

      Thanks for sharing, T. I’m glad you’ve had an alternate perspective 🌟


  3. Diana Avatar

    Wen – I had similar impressions from television. Africa mostly in poverty, plus vast uninhabited wild lands, and animals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wen Avatar

      Thank you for your perspective. Glad to know I’m not alone!


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