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Tourism: An African Adventure

Ikechukwu Johnson

I grew up in Nigeria, in a small civil service town named Owerri. A town so small it had me thinking that all of Nigeria revolved around Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. To me, these places were not only exotic in name but in everything about them. No other places existed in the country of 36 states. When the word "Tourism" popped up, I visualised the White House, Disneyland, the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower and such. Nothing close to home called out my name. However, all that changed when I went for “Youth service”,a compulsory twelve month service to Nigeria that all university graduates must carry out after they have graduated. You become a ward of the state and are sent to any part of the country to serve the country so to speak. During my service year, I found out that Nigeria was a lot bigger than I had thought.

It took sixteen hours to get to my place of primary assignment! Four hours spent climbing hills! It was harrowing and it was exciting. I watched the scenery change from brown grass to the most luscious greenery that would do any part of Holland proud. Meanwhile, the temperature dipped as well. No one bothered to tell me that the place was colder than I was used to, I survived. However, I got my first bite of wanderlust and it has stayed with me. Although the cares of this world have dimmed their sting, the itch to travel has resurged with a vengeance. It will not be denied. Times have changed and with it, the pictures in my head when the word "Tourism" is used. Now, when that word comes up, I think about the Republics of Togo and Benin for a start.

I signed up for a one week tour of both countries in October. For less than a $1000, I will get to go on a trip with a bunch of like-minded young people, tourism is big business. Last year, Africa got about 62,000,000 visits which represents five percent of global tourism numbers. Furthermore, the continent earned about $1.32 billion from tourism. So, I will be contributing to the statistics for Africa. However, even though I appreciate the figures, I know tourism is about people. It is about standing on the beach in a foreign country and looking at the sunset, feeling the sun on your upturned face, eating their own version of jollof and identifying the difference. It is about quarreling in the market with the trader of a trinket because you think he is trying to fleece you. It is about people, people different from you. It does something to your mind, literarily broadens your horizons and gives you more to dream of while you expand your world view. Come October, I will live blissfully and dangerously.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to" - JRR TOLKIEN


Sep 26, 2018