June 24, 2017

Rebels. Starving kids.


Our brains have been wired to recall these images when we hear Africa.


I, admittedly was a major culprit of housing these misconceptions, before I travelled to Africa. But with some insight and firsthand experience, the reality was uncovered.


Africa is a MASSIVE Continent, not a Country


I caught the travel bug after a hypnotising trip to Costa Rica in 2012. Upon my arrival home, I quickly began planning my next trip, with sights set on Africa.


Memories of the Lion King enticed me to a safari, tracking down Timon & Pumba. With a travel buddy sorted, we dove into travel brochures and came to realise... AFRICA WAS MASSIVE!


The world’s second largest continent, in fact! Consisting of 54 countries, it is as big as the US, China, India and most of Europe, put together.


The petty 4 weeks we had, wouldn’t even put a dent into covering Africa’s mass! Scrap our initial plan to trek from West to East – we had to zero in on a particular region.


The point I’m getting at is that, with Africa's size, the status of one country is an inaccurate portrayal of another. Yes, a few countries are regarded volatile and “do not travel” zones but their neighbours are quite peaceful. The flaws of the minority shouldn’t hinder the attraction of the greater number.


The Faces of Africa


Terrorising African Rebel?


He is a law-abiding Kenyan citizen. A police officer commissioned to instil peace and order in the community.


The last leg of my first African adventure entailed a 4am flight from Zanzibar, Tanzania to Harare, Zimbabwe.


We were staying at Mnarani Beach Cottages, the peak of Zanzibar Island, where the sunrise and sunset can be seen from the same vantage point and where the pattern of low and high tide reveals treasures of the ocean floor.


Set for our 1-hour journey to the airport, our transfer picked us up just after midnight. Our driver sped raced over the bumpy gravel so I battled the zzz’s as a safeguard. Just as my lids started to weigh down on me, we were stunned into wakefulness when six bulked-up men, dressed in camouflage and flashing shotguns, jumped from their canvas truck and surrounded our vehicle.


Dead! This is the first thing that came to mind as the adrenaline pumped my veins. On edge from a ringleader interrogation, our driver stuttered Swahili while the armed men inspected our car. I avoided eye contact with my friend, as I feared the look of panic in her eyes would set me into fight mode, before we died of a rebel ambush.


Then, in a sudden turn of events, the men gathered and hopped back into their truck and were off, just like that.


Was this a miracle? Not really.


Later, our driver explained they were just police. Just Police!

Police patrolling the area.


Fair enough.

A 2am RBT (random breath test) along the streets of Sydney wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. Then why should a midnight police patrol in Zanzibar connote to a rebel ambush?


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