The Importance of Black Expat Voices in Africa

 Editor-In-Chief, Kaylan Reid Shipanga, in Rundu, Namibia.

Editor-In-Chief, Kaylan Reid Shipanga, in Rundu, Namibia.

For far too long the perspectives of travel and expat life in Africa have been dominated by White voices.

I can remember the months leading up to my 2010 move to Namibia. I scoured the Internet for blogs, advice, reflections… anything that told the experience of a present day African American’s life on continental Africa.

The viewpoints from Black foreigners visiting or living on the African continent were disappointingly scarce. I yearned to know how a Black American female might be received in a certain African nation. Yet I could only find stories related to how Whites and their complexions made them stick out like sore thumbs.

I wanted to know what it felt like to step foot onto the continent of which our ancestors were stolen. Most of my Google searches listed tales of white travelers and fascinations with game drives and village children.

I knew that the experience of an African American traveler would be vastly different from that of a Caucasian. Yet these perspectives were extremely hard to come by. Not enough of us were sharing our experiences and few African Americans seemed to be visiting the African continent on a whole. Europe, yes. The Caribbean, yes. Asia, yes. However Africa was seemingly unchartered territory for the majority of the African American travel community.

I somewhat blindly stepped onto the continent. Nevertheless, I called on my own experiences of living in the Caribbean nation of Barbados. Luckily, there were subtle similarities between Namibian life and Bajan life that made my initial experiences in Namibia seem less foreign.

A few years later, I was drawn to share my experience in Namibia on Youtube, with a specific emphasis on my life as an African American in Africa. That ultimately led me to create this website, to chronicle the story of modern day African Americans living across the African continent.

Why is our story so important?

To amplify the voice of the African American traveler/expat in Africa. 

The voices and perspectives of African American travelers in Africa desperately needs to be amplified. As people of African descent, we have a particularly important story to tell. Our reconnections, welcoming, and struggles among countless other experiences are all of unique and valuable significance.

To encourage more people of color to move to or visit Africa.

There are many misconceptions and unknowns about life on the African continent. Topics such as traveling costs, health, safety, and supposed strife are deterring too many diasporians from experiencing African travel. The mere fact that there are African Americans living across Africa will encourage and offer clarity to other people of color who have uncertainties about visiting the continent.

To narrow the gaps within the African diaspora.

By sharing our stories, we can begin to bridge the centuries old gaps within the Africa diaspora. By broadcasting my experiences in Namibia alone on the Internet, I have made rich connections with Africans and diasporians from all over the world. Publicizing our experiences also connects those of us who have moved to the continent, forming a much-needed tribe of support.

To educate others about the endless cultures and communities across the African continent.

One of my favorite past times is learning about the various African societies. By sharing our experiences across the continent, we can educate and offer clarity to others about what modern-day African life is like.

For record keeping and to pave the way for future generations of Black travelers.

Without our voices, future diasporian travelers may begin their continental experiences armed with little advice and resources.  Much of our histories were lost due to colonialism. This is also why sharing and recording our continental travel experiences is crucial for future generations as well as for the Black narrative.

Are you an African American living on the African continent who would like to share your experience? Or do you know one who does? Get in touch at,!