This month to celebrate International Women’s Month and in particular, International Women’s Day (March 8th), we will be starting a short spotlight series on #WomenBecoming as part of the #GirlOnAMission movement. It was an absolute pleasure to interview Susan Ajayi on her experiences traveling to Ghana as a young woman.
Thrilist recently published an article that highlighted the discrepancy in seeing the black traveler narrative online even though the contribution monetarily was quite large, yet somehow there wasn’t much of a narrative of the young black woman traveler, Why? Well, whatever the reason we must saturate the media with imagery and narratives of young black women travelers until it become normalized.
Back to the Homeland
2019 was commissioned as the Year of Return by Ghana president Nana Akufo-Addo as an invitation to Africans in the Diaspora to forge ties and connections with their African brothers and sisters back home. Alternatively, In Nigeria the month of December has long been popularized as “Detty December” as a time notorious for Africans in the diaspora to return for premium enjoyment in food, entertainment and much more. The returnees being labeled ‘IJGB’ meaning ‘I Just Got Back‘ are very apparent at this time.
Personally, I remember a few years ago seeing Instagram flooded by successful Africans in the diaspora such as Luvvie Ajayi, Bozoma Saint-John, Yvonne Orji and Boris & Nicole Kodjoe’s highlighting the beauty of the continent and showing others and their large audience that there is beauty in the modern motherland.
Susan saw this positive imagery just like me and she actually decided to do something about it! Susy is a twenty something Nigerian currently living in London, she works from home as a Project Administrator. Hope you learn a few things and are inspired by her experiences!
Why did you decide to travel to Ghana?
I decided to go to Ghana because in 2019 because of the YEAR OF RETURN initiative, I saw a lot of black celebrities in the US go back and I was also inspired to go back. But because of the coronavirus lockdown I had to postpone my trip in 2020. I didn’t know much about tourism in Ghana and my experience traveling to Nigeria was that I didn’t get to really explore anytime I went as I spent most time with family. I wanted to actually experience West Africa for myself as an adult.
What was your process for planning such an intricate trip and cultivating this new experience?
Wind Collective is a travel group company that sparked my interest from social media and I decided to do my research into them. The process wasn’t too complicated but was fairly easy on the website. They take care of a lot of things, like transportations, access, and activities. Although, the flight and itinerary prices were separate. They planned an all-inclusive trip including activities as well as food (breakfast and dinner). Evenings were our time as a group to explore the city together and attend events happening locally.
West Africa is one of the best places to be in the world with a rich culture, diversity. I will recommend the experience.Tweet
INTERVIEW NOTE: Wind Collective is a global travel company and one of its co-founders being @movewithdoyin! Another awesome woman who chronicled her traveling journey on Instagram a few years back (I actually used to follow her page back then until I realized her traveling reality was very far from my budget student reality at the time, lool), it’s awesome to see things come full circle and to see her actualize her goals.
How did you manage with COVID? Preparation. I had to bring so many documents and had to create a folder on my phone to ensure I had all the right documents. Took 4 PCR tests in total when leaving and coming back to London and these had to be pre-booked beforehand and arranged. money was spent alone on COVID testing. This was the part of the trip I enjoyed the least with having to take so many tests and having to check the requirements.
How was your experience like traveling with a group of friends?
I wasn’t too worried about that as the agency was reputable and if you are going to be spending money to travel surely it’s a guarantee that vibes will be had by all. It helps that everyone had good intentions and were friendly because that reduces any issues. We created a Whatsapp group before traveling to coordinate things and even had a meeting at the airport so we could start getting to know each other better. We were also quite busy having a good time and enjoying the experiences.
What were some places you visited and which activities stood out to you ?
Our trip to the Cape Coast Castle, which is a monument used during the transatlantic slave trade to hold captives for months before being shipped to the US. It was such a moving and beautiful experience to see the space and area people were held captive yet being able to come back there as a free person. It’s closeness to the beach and the sea highlights a beautiful background with such terrible memories. Will definitely want to go back to the Cape Coast it has a vibe I really liked, and I can’t really explain it.
In addition, from the itinerary itself I enjoyed cooking different ghanaian recipes and just spending time with the people. The resort we stayed at was a family run business by a local woman and her adult children and we would have sessions of dancing and singing songs coming back home. It brought a unifying experience with being a Nigerian but yet being home in Ghana, I felt like I was back home. West African culture in general is very welcoming and warm.
What are some of the key takeaways you have from the trip?
It was refreshing to be in a different environment. Living in London we can get used to living the fast paced life but taking a step away from the city, I was able to breathe a bit more. I felt more relaxed and happier and could smile more and release some tension. I appreciated the welcoming nature and seeing people trying to help each other. Africans are generally more open and warm.
Taking trips like this is something I aspire to continue in the future. I am familiar with the hustler babe mentality because I want to be comfortable but I also want to live a life I can enjoy. Your environment can determine the quality of your life. Of course there are people who are struggling there but in the future I see myself living in West Africa and the possibility has become open to me.
The trip has made me think about life in London and how living is very confined and with a lot of hustle. I am proud of my heritage, I love being Black and African!
Tips for Trip Planning?
1. Ensure you research the travel agency you plan to work with. Check their testimonials and check their social media pages and see what people are saying in the comments.
2. Budget, ensure you have enough saved to account for your trip. There might be costs you didn’t plan for. Look into travel insurance, which is still a good thing to have. Have extra cash in case of emergencies.
3. Research the country and destination you are going to and look to see what you need to do. Don’t leave it last minute in case you have to pay for things like a visa.
Advice for budding travelers?
You can travel anywhere, it doesn’t have to be somewhere magnificent or even somewhere international. Spend more time considering what is important to you in life, and this can make you even more productive. Take time to reflect, explore your world to realize what is best for you and what you’d like to do with your life. Be open to the possibilities, you may have an idea how you want things to be and then you might end in Bali doing community service
Do not be too rigid but yet travel responsibly, respect the culture and the land and the people. Give back if you can as you are taking a lot of nice memories with you.Tweet
I’m Susy, a twenty-something Nigerian currently living in London. I work from home as a Project Administrator but I’m still trying to find what I am really called to do, the possibilities are endless.
I enjoy traveling, connecting with dope individuals and having a good time!
You can find me on IG – susyajy