One of my goals when traveling through Africa was trying to understand and gain a perspective that was beyond the western stereotype. I wanted to see and experience the culture as a learner, not with preconceived ideas, National Geographic expectations, or the idea that everything could be fixed with money.
And it happened. The people I met, situations I experienced, and the beauty I saw changed me. I returned home with an entirely new perspective and a huge desire to experience other parts of Africa.
Africa deserves respect for its 1.4 billion people that are not just surviving but thriving!
I saw many things that broke my heart and need to change in these beautiful cultures; racism, modern day slavery, corruption, pollution, and many more. But instead of outside “help” coming in with money, better ideas, and rules, I came to realize that Africans will be the ones to change Africa.
In this episode, I highlight the nine main areas that really impacted me during this trip and helped to change my perspective. I hope they impact you too.
The very first country that we started in was South Africa. And it was a perfect place to start. I could dive in and try to understand not only the history of Apartheid, but the current issues still being dealt with since it was struck down in the summer of 1991.
It has been a slow climb out of that dark hole and South Africans are not done.
The people who answered my questions led me to see that there is still serious racism, prevalent inequality, and generational scars that will be extremely painful to overcome.
When European countries divided Africa among themselves, it did more than just increase slavery. Yes, it advanced cities and industries, but more importantly, it divided people groups, damaged cultures, and oppressed individuals.
Trying to understand the full impact of colonization on Africa is nearly impossible.
So much heart ache and destruction came out of the dividing and ruling of Africa by other countries. And unfortunately, the repercussions persist.
Africans have been dealing with slavery for hundreds of years—even before colonization. Tribes would steal and keep or sell people to other tribes. Africans also sold Africans to foreigners. It has been a horrible business for entirely too long.
Thankfully, today, traditional slavery is outlawed in all parts of Africa.
Sadly, many people, both adults and children suffer from sex trafficking, human trafficking, forced labor, or low-wage labor. In fact, it is a common practice in some African countries for families to send an older child to “stay” with another family to help with small children, chores, and planting or selling in exchange for compensation.
Another common issue is offering extremely low-wage labor knowing that workers will have no other option for work compensation—it is the low-wage or nothing.
Unfortunately, there are many types of modern slavery that are still prevalent and affect an estimated 9.2 million Africans today. The fight to end slavery is ongoing.