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                        For more information, visit AfricanTravelSeminars.com

If you did not get to go in summer 2016, plan to visit one of these beaches now. Elle gave us this round up on 10 historic black beaches to visit in an article in Black Girl w/ Long Hair:

 highlandbeach md

In 2016, we take going to the beach and hanging out with friends and family for granted — we don’t have to worry about which beach we’re allowed to visit or if we’ll be harassed or asked to leave.
There is a rich history in beach culture for black Americans and visiting the beaches below may give you a glimpse into just how far we’ve come when it comes to getting our seaside daily dose of vitamin D.

1- Highland Beach (Highland, MD) was founded by Charles Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, and his wife Laura in 1893 after they were denied entry at a nearby resort restaurant because of their race. The 40-acre tract on the Chesapeake Bay became a popular spot for many notable blacks of the period and still represents the history of its time, housing Twin Oaks, the Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center.

2- Rainbow Beach (Chicago, IL) may not have always been a beach popular with the black community, but it certainly has historical ties. In 1960, a diverse group of patrons initiated a “wade in” at the beach due to racial tensions and public segregation, and again in 1961. Now, the neighborhood is 95% black and in 2011, a coalition of civil rights and labor groups dedicated a historic marker at the beach to commemorate the demonstrations that helped end a long-tolerated injustice.

3- Atlantic Beach (Horry County, SC) was nicknamed “The Black Pearl” in the 1940s and 50s as one of the most popular black beaches of that time — Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, James Brown, The Drifters, and Otis Redding all visited the area and it was often seen as a place to unwind after black performed play at white beach clubs and resorts. Today, it is one of the only black-owned beaches in the Nation. It’s also home of the annual Black Bike Week, so if you don’t like crowds, avoid Memorial Day weekend.

4- Oak Bluffs (Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.) is a repeat vacation spot of President Obama, hosting an African American Heritage Trail and seen by many as a “vacation mecca.” Although it is considered an integrated area, it was always a place where black beach goers could feel comfortable and welcome. It also houses the historical “Inkwell Beach” and is a favorite of several black celebs. White parties, anyone?

5- American Beach (Jacksonville, FL) was founded in 1935 as the only beach resort area that allowed black people. The land was purchased by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, who was Florida’s first black millionaire and president of Florida’s first insurance company. The community is still very much in touch with its notable history, housing an American Beach Museum containing memorabilia from residents and visitors, especially A.L Lewis’ great-granddaughter, known affectionately as “The Beach Lady.”

6- Sag Harbor (Suffolk County, NY), part of the ever fabulous The Hamptons, is remembered as a “refuge from racism” in the early 1900s and includes five historic black communities — Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, Ninevah Beach, Eastville, and Hillcrest Terrace. Now, the area is only reportedly 7% black, and the community is struggling to hold onto their history despite honoring their values and traditions. OWN Network profiled the community last year — you can check it out here.

7- “The Inkwell” (Santa Monica, CA), not to be confused with Inkwell Beach in Martha’s Vineyard, refers to a 200-foot stretch of beach where black patrons were allowed in the 1920s, one of the only beaches of the kind in the county. It was born out of a tragic event in Topanga Canyon and became very popular among the black community. Nick Gabaldon, who is reportedly the first Black American surfer, also frequented the beach. Gabaldon unfortunately died in a surfing accident at 24 years old, but his legacy lives on — in 2008, Santa Monica recognized Gabaldon and the historic beach site with a landmark at Bay Street and Oceanfront Walk and now hold an annual Nick Gabaldon Day.

8- Bruce’s Beach (Manhattan Beach, CA), another LA-area beach, was established by Willa and Charles Bruce, who recognized the issue of segregation in the surrounding area and the lack of beach property available to black locals. However, racial tensions caused for the eventual demise of the resort, but it was renamed in 2007 to pay homage to its origins and the progress that the initiative brought to the area.
Chicken Bone Beach.

9- Chicken Bone Beach (Atlantic City, NJ), also known as Missouri Avenue Beach, was a largely popular area among black entertainers during the 1950s — I think you all knew that this post couldn’t be complete without an Atlantic City beach. Sammy Davis Jr., Billie Holiday, and “Moms” Mabley were just some of the notable people basking in the sun on this “two-block stretch of sand.” The history of the beach is still alive and well, hosting an annual jazz series and actively commemorating the beach through the Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation Inc.

10- Freeman Beach (Wilmington, NC), later nicknamed Seabreeze, was a popular resort area during the Jim Crow Era. It housed 31 juke joints and the beachy atmosphere of cottages and hotels attracted all types of people. Like most of the beaches on this list, the area somewhat declined after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which is a good and bad thing), but there is now renewed interest in preserving the resort’s history. Last year, the TheatreNOW Dinner Theater in Wilmington ran a “Summers at Seabreeze” show, which celebrated the era through song.

Do you plan on visiting any of these beaches? Do you know of more?



Top photo Highland Beach, Md. Credit: Black Girl Long Hair

Source: http://blackgirllonghair.com/2016/06/10-historically-black-beaches-to-visit-this-summer/

In part one of a six-part series on Ghana for AFK Travel, Starrene Rhett-Rocque, a first-time visitor to the country, blazes a trail through the capital city of Accra in search of culture, history, music and dance. Here is what she found:

accra-chale-wote-fest-NM-640x360A visit to Accra is a must for every visitor to Ghana. The energy is vibrant: the sultry air is filled with the smells of palm oil and exhaust fumes; the streets are alive with brightly colored wall murals, street art, and beads; and frenetic sights and sounds come from every direction. People are on a mission to get from point A to B swiftly and vendors are everywhere, even in the streets dodging traffic, selling any and everyone some of any and everything.

This sprawling metropolis doesn’t have much of a skyline or center, yet still feels like a distinct city, stretching from the beach to west, the delta to the east, and the suburbs to the north — which means there are a variety of neighborhoods ready for exploration.

If you’re a newbie interesting in art and culture it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to do and where to go, but there’s something for everyone, from history buffs to art enthusiasts to music lovers to dancers. Here we break down six places you can get a dose of local — and international — culture in Ghana’s capital city.

Check out the art scene

Chale Wote Street Art Festival Accra

Graffiti artists at Chale Wote Street Art Festival, Accra (photo by Nathan Midgley)

The art scene in Ghana is fantastic. Pay attention to walls in parts of Jamestown, Nima and other parts of Accra because the arbitrary murals are beautiful. Much of the art is inspired by graffiti and other contemporary styles. Beyond street art, there’s the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, which is a celebration of art in Jamestown featuring musicians, visual artists, people on stilts, wild costumes, amazing dance and more. It happens every year on varying dates, and at actual art institutions like the Goethe-Institut. The latter is a German-funded cultural center that holds art exhibitions that explore the link between Ghanaian and German art via mixed media, performance art, photography and painting. The Nubuke Foundation in East Legon is also a good place to check out. It’s an artistic space where Ghanaian artists can display their talent and enhance their skills. Fruits of the artists’ labor like Kente cloth bedding and tableware are sold in the gift shop, and there are also cultural offerings like poetry night, art works, film, music and various other workshops.

Another must-see art gallery is the Artists Alliance Gallery. It is home to Ghanaian artists and sculptors like Kofi Setoriji, Gabriel Eklou, Ablada Glover (one of Ghana’s most renowned artists) and more. Stop by and browse contemporary art and collectors pieces too. If you see something you like, items are for sale directly from the artist.

Hear reggae at Labadi Beach

labadi beach accra

Labadi Beach, Accra (Stig Nygaard/Wikimedia Commons)

There is no shortage of music of any genre in Ghana. Enter reggae at Labadi Beach: Wednesday nights are reserved for the popular musical genre. The bar is stocked with local and imported beers and a DJ plays the best of reggae and rock, old and new. Occasionally a live band featuring artists from Ghana or neighboring countries will stop by for the party, which always draws a motley crowd. Students, travelers from around the world, Rastafarians, and reggae lovers alike come together on this night to enjoy the groove. Labadi beach can get crowded on any popular night — especially on nights like this — and vendors are out in full force selling goods, so if you’re the low-key type then this may not be the event for you. But if you want to mingle and possibly even make new friends, it is THE place to be.

W.E.B. Dubois Cultural Center

William Edward Burghardt DuBois is just as important to Ghana’s history as he is to African-American history. The scholar and civil rights activist became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960s. As one of the leaders at the forefront of Pan-Africanism, DuBois took residence in a house that was given to him by Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, in life and in death. Now a museum and a mausoleum, the W.E.B. Dubois Cultural Center is an archive of many of Dubois’ books and other personal items like his graduation robes, old grocery lists, and gifts given to him from his travels around the world. The walls are decorated with photos of other prominent figures in African-American a

nd African history like Maya Angelou, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X and more.

Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park

Nkrumah Mausoleum, Accra (photo by Nathan Midgley)

Nkrumah Mausoleum, Accra (photo by Nathan Midgley)

It’s only right that Ghana’s first president has a memorial dedicated to him. History fanatics who want to get a better understanding of Ghana’s post-colonial establishment should visit the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, where the late leader and his wife are buried, and check out the museum that’s full of photos and information about Nkrumah. Visitors to the museum can either take a guided tour (recommended), or browse on their own. 

Catch a movie at Accra Mall

Malls are typically the same everywhere, but the entertainment you find within an African mall is unlike anything you’ve ever seen — particularly when it comes to film. If you are curious about “Ghallywood” movies then stop by Accra Mall and catch a flick at Silverbird Cinemas. They show authentically African titles like Being Mrs. Elliott, and Single, Married and Complicated, as well as titles that are popular worldwide. It’s the African titles that you want to see though, because the melodrama and over-acting alone will prove to be unintentionally entertaining.

Salsa night at Afrikiko


Courtesy of Afrikiko Leisure Centre, Accra

Even though salsa music is considered a South American phenomenon, it is extremely popular in Ghana — which is not surprising considering that the drums prominent in salsa music draw inspiration from African drums (due to the forced migration of African slaves to various parts of the Latin Caribbean). Salsa nights vary by club, but you can find plenty of fun at the Afrikiko Leisure Center. Afrikiko is an entertainment complex comprised of restaurants and an outdoor courtyard area where there are sometimes live performances and plenty of room to party. Not being able to dance salsa isn’t an excuse because at Afrikiko, there are salsa classes, and if Wednesday isn’t a good option then there will be other chances through Saturday to show off your skills or acquire new ones — with no judgment.

Read more from Starr’s series on Ghana: (coming soon) 

Part 2: Staying Safe In Ghana: A First-Timer’s Tale
Part 3: Shopping In Accra: Five Places To Get Your Bling On
Part 4: Gettin’ Wild In Ghana: 5 Attractions For Nature Lovers
Part 5: Off The Beaten Path: Four Places Worth Finding In Ghana
Part 6: Coming Full Circle: Tracing My Roots In Ghana



Original article: http://afktravel.com/68416/culture-in-ghana-capital/


Starrene Rhett-Rocque is a New York City-based entertainment and lifestyle journalist. Her award-winning website, GangStarrGirl.com, focuses on women in hip-hop, pop-culture, beauty, travel and other lifestyle interests like pole dancing. Previously, she served as digital manager for JETmag.com, pop culture editor for VIBE.com, and has written for JET magazine, VIBE magazine, BET.com,The Grio and AllHipHop.com. She also worked as assistant editor at XXL magazine, web editor for Roc4Life.com, and as a production assistant for NYC TV on shows like Blueprint NYC and Eat Out New York.


boaMy name is J. Carlos Desales. I am a native of Rio de Janeiro and a citizen of United States. Currently, I spend the most part of the year in Brazil working as executive director of Americas Connect where I am a private tour guide and tour conductor. I work in many different areas of the country and the remaining time I spend in the States networking, improving my professional skills and spending time with my family and friends. In San Francisco, I attended San Francisco State University and worked in the film production for a while.  In 1998, I had the chance of spending three months working between Cuba and Puerto Rico improving my Spanish which I learned by traveling to Mexico several times.

Brazil has the largest population of people of African descent outside of African.  History, food, religion, culture, music, dance and art from African people can be found here.  And to honor this legacy, Americas Connect has focused and made the African Heritage Tourism a priority. 

carlosFurthermore, our tours are carefully designed to meet our client's specifications, special interest, time frames, number of participants and preferred mode of transportation within Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and/or other parts of Brazil.  Most of the tours are led by me, and are tailored to care for the needs, safety and satisfaction of our travelers who are seeking to explore and understand the diversity and richness of Brazilian culture. My familiarity with my homeland ensures my ability to provide safety and good price for tour packages that will take you to places that are not offered by the majority of tour guides or travel agencies.

Americas Connect has developed an Afro-centric calendar of tour for travelers who come to Rio and  Salvador, providing historical  and cultural information on activities throughout the year.

One of our most popular and important heritage tour is the The Boa Morte Festival which takes place few hours from Salvador in the historic city of Cachoeira, where the Sisterhood of Our Lady of Good Death lives.  There is nothing dreadful about this celebration, which is a unique testament to the strength and endurance of black women of the African Diaspora. The Boa Morte Festivaal is a celebration of deep cultural social, spiritual and religious significance. It is a joyful expression of life, faith and happiness.

Join us on the Boa Morte Festival in August

boamorte10Our journey will go from August 6th-17th, 2015. Landing in Rio de Janeiro, my hometown which I describe as a city of many powers of seduction which I l look forward to introducing you to: the Christ of Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountains; the Little Africa neighborhood; historical sites; Copacabana and Ipanema beaches; Samba and Bossa Nova; the lives of community leaders and many others living in a Favela in the North Area of the city; a soccer match and the local food. On August 11Th the groups arrives in Salvador, my second home.

Besides the welcome dinner reception on our first night, the group will take part of a traditional weekly part to get into the spirits of this magicalcity.  During the week we will visit the most important African Brazilian in the country, other historical sites in Pelourinho, Lower City and meet a community leader; visit a Candomble house during a ceremony; watch the performance of the world famous Ballet Folclorico da Bahia; sail to Itaparica and Frades islands; finally but not least travel to Cachoeira where we will have a private meeting with the Sisters followed by lunch at old sugar cane farm and take part in the wonderful Boa Morte Festival.  

For more information on the company, visit www.AmericasConnect.com.  

To join the tour on August 6th-17th, 2015:

Email carlos at:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or 

clicik here: https://www.anyguide.com/tours/the-boa-morte-festival-tour-of-rio-salvador-salvador

For detailed information about the tour and the Boa Morte festival, see links below.

https://www.anyguide.com/americasconnect#tours-anchorDocumentary (Documentary of the Festival)

AS-A-BLACK-AMERICAN-TRIP-TO-LESOTHO-ENRICHED-MY-LIFEThe plane door is opened as we wait on the tarmac in Dakar, Senegal. I approach it to inhale my first aroma of Africa, of home. I step near the door and take in the high grass that lines the landing strip, the bright sun that has been showing for about two hours, the blanket of June’s humidity, and the unfamiliar smell that assaults my nose.


Coming from my home of Las Vegas, where there is little vegetation, less humidity, and all asphalt that’s cooked by the blazing sun nine months of the year, I assume this is what true nature smells like. It is eerily quiet at this airport, something that I’m unfamiliar with as I’m used to flying major airports, such as McCarran, LAX, JFK.  The plane staff asks everyone to take their seats as we have topped off the fuel and will be in the air momentarily to continue our flight to Bloemfontein, South Africa.


I am one of millions of Black Americans who don’t know their  familial connection and bloodline to Africa.

Bucket List item #1: live and work in Africa.

I figured it’d happen in my 40s but was blessed with an opportunity to work in Lesotho at the age of 23 as part of the U.S. Peace Corps.
In going, I didn’t know much about the small mountain kingdom enclave of Lesotho before stepping foot in it. When I became a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, I chose not to do too much research on Lesotho as I wanted my perspective of “Africa” on the ground to be based on my personal encounters and not the unfounded, fearful warnings of my family and friends. My mom was a little worried but moreso because her baby was traveling internationally for the first time.

From day one, I made it a point to do a lot of listening while having fun. Laughter is easy to come by if you let it be. While working at Selibeng Youth Centre (pronounced SEH-dee-bang in the local language know as Sesotho), I asked a lot of questions.

“How do you say this in Sesotho?”

“Why can’t I pick up that furry caterpillar?”

“Why do you think China has a textile factory in Lesotho?”

“Is half a loaf really better than no loaf?”

“Why can’t I leave the shovel standing up in the dirt?”

The great thing was that all of my questions were answered. The same way I asked questions incessantly of the Basotho, is the same way they asked of me as a Black American.

“Why does your hair feel different from ours?”

“Why are you skinny and not fat like all Americans on TV?”

“How can you not know your grandfather’s grandfather?”

“Which is better, kwaito or rap?”

“How much does a flat cost in Las Vegas?”

After having learned Spanish, I already understood the value of integration and access when it Byron Williams Lesothocomes to using someone else’s language. Taking this to heart kept me a student of Sesotho during my whole Peace Corps service.

My counterpart, Seipati Maphatsoe, was well-known in my camptown and across Lesotho. Me getting familiar with my area and the people had a lot to do with her. It seemed like everyone we came across knew this petite woman with the limitless energy. She knew how to connect with children, young and elderly adults, shopkeepers, shoemakers, businessman, taxi drivers, netball players. I hadn’t seen someone like her before, and just to be near her made your day better. Her indelible impression has lasted all these years.

After 27 months of lIving and working in the town of Mohale’s Hoek, I’m glad I made that decision. A high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, a severely depressed economy that resembled the American Dust Bowl, a fairly underdeveloped country – that’s what stood out. What connected me to my community and the people of Lesotho was my local language skills, ability to adjust culturally, and general physical appearance as a deep-hued (a.k.a. dark-skinned), thin, bald, Black American.

It was hard for Basotho (people of Lesotho) to believe I hadn’t returned “home.” I had to repeatedly explain to Basotho that there are plenty of dark-skinned people in the United States. I also had to explain that I didn’t know Robert Kelly (better known as R. Kelly), that I didn’t rap even though I love hip-hop, and that slavery’s effects are still deep and long-lasting despite the appearance of an America that is painted on the sliver screen as perpetually happy, sunny, and wealthy.

Connecting to my Basotho community was a life-enhancing experience like no other. It granted me access and favor that magnified our work as a youth organization and reaffirmed my belief in the power of language.

Source: ATQ News

retosa 1Africa receives 3 percent of the tourism receipts in the world, and it also gets 5 percent of arrivals. Of these, Southern Africa only receives 2 percent of both, yet the region has, if put together, arguably the best tourism resource base in the world. In this respect, RETOSA believes it is strategic for the youth to become a driving force in tourism development at the national and regional level so that the region grows its share of the global tourism cake.

Following this line of thinking, the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) has announced its second annual Youth in Tourism Essay Competition, in line with the UNWTO World Tourism Day theme. The main objective of the competition is to raise youths' awareness of the importance of green measures for the travel and tourism industry.

The theme of this 2014 competition is "Sustainable Tourism Development: Tourism and Development in the Community." RETOSA is targeting children at the primary and secondary school levels, and the organization also hopes to make tourism a part of their school curriculum.

RETOSA is hoping Southern Africa's youth will come out in great numbers and provide their input on tourism development in Southern Africa, specifically focusing on how the youth can play and active and meaningful role in the region's tourism development now and in the future.

The essay competition will consist of two sub-themes for the primary and secondary school categories. For the primary school category, for children ages 7-13, the topic of their essay is: What has tourism done to improve the lives of the people in my country?

Participants are encouraged to identify a tourism organization of their choice within their country and identify how it has benefitted the peopled in their community. Participants can also take a country focus and identify the key area in the tourism sector that has improved the lives of people in their country. This essay should be no less than 500 words and no more than 750.

In the secondary (high school) category, children ages 14-18 have the topic of: What can be done to enhance the use of tourism as a tool for socio-economic development in my country by the government and/or private sector?

Participants for this essay are encouraged to use examples from within their country identifying how tourism has impacted various factors in socio-economic development in their countries, and identify gaps they believe exist that should be addressed by the government and/or private sector. The essay for this group should no less than 1,000 words and no more than 1,500.

Judges will select the best 10 essays from each category, and these will be published on the RETOSA website. From these selected essays, the judges will choose the 3 essays from each category and ask writers to present their essays at the Youth in Tourism Conference in Mauritius from September 25-26, 2014. The overall two winners - one from each category - will be nominated as the Southern Africa Junior Tourism Minister (high school winner) and Deputy Junior Tourism Minister (primary school).

RETOSA will publish the winning stories (the overall winning story and the shortlisted stories) on its website, and the overall winners will take part in publicity activities including social media, and where possible, will undertake a program of regional outreach activities to develop and promote youth and tourism in the region.

Entrants must be citizens of a SADC country and have current residence in a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) country. SADC countries are: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The deadline to submit essays is July 7, 2014.

For further information, email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or visit the RETOSA website at visit the RETOSA website at http://www.retosa.co.za/


My love for The Gambia began over two years ago at the 2011 International Roots Festival. I had hear so much about West Africa, and I was excited to get the chance to attend the Roots Festival. And it turned out to be beyond anything throots-festival kittyat I could imagine. I cannot think of a term to adequately describe it. It was exhilarating, unbelievable, tantalizing and soul stirring, all at the same time. An educational, cultural and spiritual experience that I will always cherish, it was a true awakening, a start on the search of who I really was.

Enjoyable and entertaining, the Roots Festival is a Pan African Edutainment event! Inspired by the noted late author Alex Haley's novel 'Roots' and later followed by the TV series, it is a great way to get a taste of African culture. If you have longed to get in touch with your West African Roots and have fun at the same time, then this celebration of love, heritage and ancestry is for you. Taking place on May 9th -16th, the 2014 Gambia International Roots Festival promises as much cultural enlightenment as the previous one. It is no wonder I fell madly in love with The Gambia. Who wouldn’t with all that there is going on during the week?

The week-long celebration at the 2011 Roots Festival gave me the chance to rejoice and reconnect with my Gambian and African brothers and sisters through food, music, dance and learning about my ancestry and cultural heritage. Festival attendees included people from the USA, South Africa, other West African Countries, United Kingdom, the Caribbean islands and beyond. Festival events included cultural programs and performances by different ethnic groups, tours to historic sites like Juffure and Kunta Kinteh Island, dance, music and drumming sessions, carnival celebrations, concerts, parades, symposia, trade shows, vendor markets, sporting events, spiritual ceremonies and more.

On the first day of the festival, we attended the 2011 Opening Reception that began with a warm welcome by the Honorable Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, Hostess of the Festival and Minister of Tourism, and Mr. Momodou C. Joof the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Then a panel of distinguished intellectuals from Gambia and beyond delivered insightful information about the development of Africa and the connection with hroots archer Diaspora. Afterwards, we enjoyed a cultural extravaganza reception with delicious West African cuisine and the sounds of delightful music of the Cora and Balafon, unique African instruments, playing in the background.

During the main parade celebration the next day, we witnessed with excitement different drummers and Cora players, various tribes dressed in custom traditions including the Kankurang and Sewruba community from the Mandingo tribe, Sierra Leonian community tribes, the Rainbow Gesse Group and the Zimber community from Banjul and many more participants who danced and sang in the streets. A spectacular of grandeur that seemed surreal, the parade was something to behold, impossible to imagine without actually seeing.

The highlight of that day was His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya A. J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia making a grand entrance to an overzealous crowd who was dancing and shouting with joy to see him. He took the stage before the parade processional and spoke about how the Roots Festival was created to build closer ties with people of African descent around the world and that Africa as well as Gambia was their true home. The president’s words resonated and his message was demonstrated throughout the week. People everywhere in The Gambia greeted us with “Welcome Home.”

The 2011 Roots Festival provided opportunities for reconciliation for people of the African descent whose ancestors were forced into slavery. We got to experience a deep cultural and spiritual identity, and reconnection to our African heritage from exposure to Gambia traditions and ancient customs. We participated in the Futampaf African rites of passage ceremony in Kanila, the birth village of Gambia’s president, where we went through an initiation and was adopted into families. President Jammeh performed a special initiation that involved a sacred ritual and a libation. Afterwards we learned about the African culture, African dances and then given African names with our adoptive families. We performed the dances that we learned before the president at a celebration ceremony that evening.

love rootsWe got to visit Kunta Kinteh Island as you will do during the upcoming 2014 Roots Festival. It is the island in the River Gambia that bears the last remains of a Slave Fort where Africans were held captive before they were forcibly put into slave ships to the New World. Kunta Kinteh Island was once called James Island and was renamed at the 2011 Roots Festival. I got to take part in this historic renaming ceremony and to view the remains of the slave forts. The main speaker for the renaming ceremony was Minister of Tourism Jobe-Njie and Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia Aja Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy, who both spoke on the importance and significance of renaming the island.

Afterwards Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism Mr. Joof led us by boat to the nearby village of Juffureh, the birth place of Kunta Kinteh. We were welcomed by the smiling faces of the village people who embraced us with open arms. We visited the village’s school and the Slavery Museum where we learned about some of the island’s history before visiting with the ancestors of Kinteh, who has become a one-man symbol for every person taken from Africa into slavery. We met an elder woman name Mariama Fofana, known in Juffure as an eighth- generation descendent of Kinteh. A guy name Taal, another descendent of Kinteh autographed a guide book on Juffureh for visitors. The ancestors shared an oral history that included a story about how Kinteh’s brother came after him and drowned trying to swim the rough river Gambia to St. James Island. We all took pictures, embraced the ancestors and expressed how honored we were to meet them before our farewells and goodbyes.

The final part of the festival includgallery-pic-4ed mini- excursions, sporting activities, an African Fashion Show, an Art Expo, buffets of Gambian cuisine, cultural and musical entertainment and more. We visited the Tanje Village Museum, the first private museum of The Gambia where there are displays of ethnographic and natural history; traditional crafts such as weaving, a nature trail of medicinal trees and over 60 species of plants. The Tanje Museum, which offers school programs and guests overnight stays, even has a replica of a traditional Gambian compound. That evening there was the African Gala Dinner and Farewell Ceremony where national and international performances marked the closing of the 2011 Roots Festival.

This Roots Festival was the 10th edition of the coming together of long lost brothers and sisters of the Diaspora, and Africans on the continent. It was a celebration of love and a new beginning for many of us, and the upcoming 11th edition will be even better. You will get to experience all that I experienced at the last festival and even more at the 2014 Roots Festival. I guarantee you will feel a connection to the ancestors of Kunta Kinteh and other Gambians. Once again the Roots Festival will bring together people who not only share the same African origins and heritage, but also people who share common objectives that focus on positive social, cultural and economic objectives for the continent and her Diaspora. Like all of the previous Roots Festival, this festival will be educational, entertaining and invigorating, and it will also allow opportunities for higher levels of communications and cooperation among the people of African and the Diaspora. The 2014 Gambia International Roots Festival is a must-attend event for everyone who want to learn more about themselves and their African brothers and sisters.

Okavango-Delta 02Once part of the Lake Makgadikgadi and one of the seven Natural Wonders of Africa, the Okavango Delta is one of the largest inland deltas in the world. It forms where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic through in the endorheic basin of the Kalahari. The national park is on the eastern side of the delta. Annually, 11 cubic kilometers of water spreads over the area, feeding the Delta’s lush greenery, which is home to over 71 fish species, 60 000 Lechwe antelope, and herds of buffalo and elephant totaling approximately 30, 000, with the popular tourist attraction being the Big Five.

Little experience will enable you to feel as close to nature, especially if you use the “mokoro,” a traditional means of transport ( basically, a hollowed trunk tree on which you move silently through the papyrus and the fields of lilies in the Delta). The surrounding silence allows you to appreciate nature even more with the wind in the reeds, the multiple cries of birds, the hum of hippos and so much more.

The Okavango River (or Okavango in Botswana) is the fourth largest river system in Southern Africa. It takes its source in the mountains of northern Angola. Originally the water reached Maun and even filled the folds of Magadigadi and Nxai Nxai. Today the delta tends to move back and the most spectacular part to visit remains Maun.

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is the ultimate magical experience of the African safari! Widely believed to be the world’s largest inland delta, it is famous for its abundant wildlife and the indigenous Bushmen, with their ancestral cultokavango-delta-15-1g-150x150ure. Okavango offers unparalleled opportunities for observing big safaris game by boat, sightseeing flights and bird watching.

Also known as the Okavango Swamp, the delta is located in the center of southern Africa. The waters of the Okavango River flowing into the Kalahari Desert create a single area of ​​lush tropical wetland of 15,000 km ². Local residents, who are originally Bantu and San (Bushmen), traditionally depend on agriculture, hunting, fishing and livestock grazing. However, tourism is now developing also an important economic source in the Okavango region.

The Okavango Delta is home to a large amount of wildlife, attracting visitors who want to experience a truly natural and wild African safari. Safaris in the area of ​​the Okavango Delta allow you to reach a multitude of destinations, the famous Moremi Game Reserve in the western part of the Okavango Delta up to the Makgadikgadi Rserve, Pan Nxai and Aha Hills all intriguing adventures to consider.

One of the other attractions is the Tsodilo Hills site that offers nearly 4,500 ancient rock paintings by Bushmen. Visitors can also experience the old way of life in the village. Maun, the main town of the Okavango is the gateway to the Delta gate, and has its share of lodges, shops and agencies and safari tour operators. There is a pleasure flight in the Okavango Delta departing from Maun airport. There is also an educational safari park in Maun. Nhabe the museum in the northeastern Okavango Delta features exhibits on the natural history and culture of the region.

Source: Ventures Africa

Original article: http://www.ventures-africa.com/2013/12/discovering-africa-the-okavango-delta/

I left London on a gloomy afternoon in October to travel Europe for five months, searching for the interplay between Black and European cultures, writes Afropean British writer, photographer and TV host Johny Pitts on his website The Afropean.I came in contact with Black French militants, German anarchists, an Egyptian nomad, Russian Nazis, Cape Verdean favelas, racist football hooligans, the Black Panther party and more, all telling me a tale of an alternative Europe not readily exported to the rest of the world. My journey lead me to the fringes, culturally and geographically, and also became an investigation into my own mixed-race identity. See Facebook.com/afropeans

Marcel Proust is quoted as saying 'the true act of discovery consists not of finding new lands, but in seeing with new eyes'.  I thought of that on the day I left in search of 'Black Europe', on a cold October morning.  I wanted to do both at the same time though- see new places but also present an alternative view of them as that rarest of creatures- the Black European explorer.

Johny Pitts
@Johny Pitts: Johny Pitts in Moscow

And so I set out in search of a Europe that isn't always offered in the tourist literature of its great cities...London to Paris, Brussels then Amsterdam, Stockholm over to Moscow, Berlin down to Rome, across the Riviera to Marseilles, Madrid and Lisbon, strangely ending up back in Britain- Gibraltar, where Europe kisses Africa.

@Johny Pitts: Girl on a rainy day in London

Initially I imagined flaneuring my way around only taking photographs of cool Afropeans- those artists, musicians and fashionistas who had managed to find some sort of cultural coherence in their Black European identities and created what might be described as a kind of 'post post-colonial' aesthetic.  I wanted to find a diasporic unity that was as solid as African American culture and celebrate this coming together of cultures and races.  Whilst I certainly did find (and photograph) these people, I was naive to think I'd come back with a trendy little coffee table book which offered only a convenient view of Black people in Europe.

@Johny Pitts

Still, resisting cliched depictions that ghettoised or victimised the communities I visited, I let the people I met tell the story of the continent...from Belgian-Congolese artists to Egyptian nomads, Black French militants, Swedish musicians, German anarchists, racist football hooligans, Russian Nazis, Nigerian students and more.

@Johny Pitts: " Berlin. I visited the famous artist squat Tacheles which this month [September 2012]  lost it's long fought battle to stay open."

Often this meant being led to the figurative and literal periphery of societies, so in many ways my journey became a tour of the outskirts of Europe- the multicultural hinterlands...Clichy Sous Bois in Paris, Rinkeby in Stockholm, Cova Da Moura in Lisbon...

@Johny Pitts: "Last year [2012] I spent time in Lisbon, and visited the European Favela of 'Cova Da Moura', home to a large Cape Verdean community. Described as a 'no go' zone for police, I was lucky enough to be escorted by an ex resident. I saw poverty, and was threatened by a local gangster, but I also felt a strong community spirit and was introduced the beautiful Cape Verdean folk music 'Morna' in a small makeshift cafe."

Throughout my trip the Afro-Europe blog was one of the very few resources I had to help me navigate my way around, and became a second companion when I felt lost in the cold urban wilderness of Russia or the dangerous Banlieues of France. 

@Johny Pitts: Near Patrice Lumumba University — in Moscow, Moscow City.

And so here I am proud to share this introduction to my story and present some of my photographs before the travel narrative and photo essay is released next year as a book.  I felt it important to write and take pictures, trying to make images with my pen and tell stories with my camera, and let each one fill in what the other couldn't describe.

@Johny Pitts: "I spent five days alone in the Parisian banlieue of Clichy Sous Bois."

As the underlying cause of the project is to promote dialogue between various Black communities living in Europe, as well as with white Europeans who are curious about, or influenced by Black culture themselves, I invite people to join a Facebook community I set up when I started the book Facebook.com/afropeans here you will find more of my photographs, but also various imagery from other Afropean artists; music videos, art, and literature that tell their own story.

Johny Pitts, June 2013

Johny Pitts is a writer, photographer and TV host based in London.  Winner of a Decibel Penguin Prize for new writers, his short story "Audience" was included in the anthology 'The Map of Me' published by Penguin Books.  In 2012 he collaborated with author Caryl Phillips on 'A Bend in The River' -a project for the BBC/Arts Council run 'Space'.  in March 2013 he held his first international photography exhibition in Belgium as part of the 'What is Africa to Me Now?' conference at Liege university.  As a TV host he presented for MTV UK and ITV1, and can currently be seen on the BBC.

Video: A photo-montage from my travels around Europe looking at Afropean/ Black European culture. Joy Denalane's 'Vier Frauen' as a the soundtrack.

Source: Afro:Europe

cap_paulCap'Paul Mixon, founder of the National Black Boaters Summit and his wife Marvelle moved to Mexico the beginning of this year and are having the time of their life. They love having their friends vistit. The couple shares some of their moments with us.

Life in Mexico

As told by Cap'n Paul

Good morning world! It is an exceptionally clear and warm morning here in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle Mexico.Marvelle and I can see the Sierra Madre Mountains from Puerto Vallarta to Yelapa. Life is good! ...

     ". . As I drove down the cobble stone street looking into all the open restaurants, all of a As I drove down the cobble stone street looking into all the open restaurants, all of a sudden my car was surrounded by four young  black women talking to me in fluent Spanish.  "Que Pasa" I said as they asked where I was from and told me that I needed to come back tomorrow and take Salsa lessons from them.  My Spanish has actually gotten pretty good and this was an emergency, right?. Anyway, long story short, I'm going back tomorrow and sign up for a six day intensive course."


Marvelle gave me a haircut this morning. We had breakfast with a couple from Chicago that live in down town Puerto Vallarta (PV).  They have lived in PV for the past five years. Both are older than us and still working because they want to. We discussed putting together a coop residence in PV. Real nice people. Finally someone older than me. How exciting is this? I was in a parade last Wednesday, La Patron Saint of Santa Cruz Festival. It was a blast!



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My Ugandan Adventure at the Source of the Nile in

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Enjoying the Night Life in Dakar, Senegal

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Cheap Flights to Africa: Ten Tips on Travel to the

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More and more African Americans and people in the Western hemisphere are fulfilling their dreams of visiting Africa. Finding a cheap flight to Africa from the US is not so

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 Comments

A Giraffe Sighting: An Unforgettable Moment in East

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011 Comments

Going Back to My African Roots!

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A traveller from Great Britain experiences the 10th International Gambian Roots FestivalSince my mid twenties, I’ve become a very keen traveller to Afrika.  I really got into it in 1997

Friday, 8 April 2011 Comments


Must-Do Tour: Visit the Holy Land In March,

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Sunday, 19 November 2017 Comments

10 Historically Black Beaches to Visit This

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If you did not get to go in summer 2016, plan to visit one of these beaches now. Elle gave us this round up on 10 historic black beaches to

Friday, 23 June 2017 Comments

Doin’ Accra: Six Ways To Catch Some Culture In Ghana’s

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In part one of a six-part series on Ghana for AFK Travel, Starrene Rhett-Rocque, a first-time visitor to the country, blazes a trail through the capital city of Accra in

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 Comments