Thinking of visiting the African continent soon? Then maybe you should consider west Africa! It's a very colorful and vibrant part of the continent filled with rich history, culture and beautiful people and places. This is the part of the world that brought you the infamous Jollof Rice, global icons like Kofi Annan and Fela Kuti, some of the trendiest fashions and one of the most popular music genres around today: Afrobeats. These reasons alone are a great indication that it's worth the journey. We know how to have a good time, despite the challenges we face daily and we are welcoming and warm people. Trust me, you won’t regret visiting any of the countries in this region, however, I've picked five for you based on my experiences, I've lived in 2 of them and visited the others. So dive in and get a glimpse of each nation.
To give you a great pictorial experience, I scoured social media and gathered images from some dope people and promoters of these nations to help do this some justice. I’ve also included some musicians that hail from these countries to get the sounds of the nation. Hope you enjoy and check out these folks on Instagram and plan a trip soon to any of these countries. You wont regret it.
Sierra Leone is my birthplace. We have endured quite a lot since gaining our independence in 1961, however, we continue to persevere and work towards better and brighter days ahead. Notwithstanding, it is a place filled with some of the most natural beauty on the planet, beautiful and pristine beaches, a lot of greenery and an abundance of hills, mountains and natural habitats ripe for ecotourism. Its capital city is Freetown (check out our Freetown collection), a city established for returned slaves. Sierra Leone is home to Bunce Island and the Banana Islands both of which were slave embarkments. Every single one of these countries selected has a deep history and connection to that dark era of human history and have a lot of stories to tell. Today, Sierra Leone, like most of Africa, has a very young population with about 80% of its population under the age of 35. Pretty youthful bunch and boy, we love a good party. Make sure you check out our Jollof when you visit to compare to the other nations mentioned here and also check out some good music from one of our most popular artists in rotation today, @Drizilik.
Gambia is often referred to as “the Smiling Coast of West Africa” for its shape and friendly people. The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa. I spent four wonderful years in The Gambia attending high school and loved every bit of it. I made some great friends and life-long relationships. The Gambia is one of the hottest tourist destinations in West Africa and over the years alot of development has taken place to accommodate that. The River Gambia runs almost literally right down the middle of the nation and its capital city is Banjul. Its food, culture and music are quite similar to its neighbor’s, Senegal. They have their own version of Jollof called Benachin and is arguably the best in the region (but don’t let a Nigerian hear that as they make the loudest noise when it comes to the Jollof wars). The most popular music genre in the Gambia is called Mbalax, and when mixed with pop/hip-hop has a very interesting sound. One of their most popular young musicians goes by the name of Gee @gbgee_, who I actually went to the same high school with.
Images are courtesy of @visitthegambia.
I like to say that Senegal is like a bigger version of The Gambia. Although they share similar cultures, one major difference it has between them and all the other countries listed is that Senegal is French-speaking. I visited Senegal 2-3 times and absolutely loved it. It's much bigger and much more developed than the first countries on the list. They have a pretty popular football national team and star player in Sadio Mane who played for Liverpool. Their capital city is Dakar, a very eclectic city with a lot of great architecture. It is also host to the African Renaissance Monument. Senegal is also home to Goree Island one of the ports of embarkment for slave ships leaving West Africa and traveling to the New World. It is now a major tourist destination that shows the horrors of the slave trade throughout that region. As the Jollof wars continue, Senegal also has its own version of Jollof rice known as Thieboudienne. It is also home to one of the most popular African musicians to grace the stage, Youssou N’dour. Another popular Senegalese group that I really enjoy is called Daara J Family.
Images are courtesy of @thedakardream.
Ghana is one of the most popular countries for African-Americans to visit these days on the African continent. It gained a reputation for connecting to the Diaspora and providing opportunities for repatriation and investments. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice, and I am looking forward to making another trip there shortly. I spend a lot of time watching a young fellow by the name of Wode Maya on Youtube who has done a wonderful job of promoting not only Ghana, but the rest of Africa along with brilliant entrepreneurs furthering and championing the continent's push for notoriety. The capital of Ghana is Accra, and is home to a population of about 32 million people. Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in the world as well as Cocoa in Africa. It's one of the most peaceful nations on the continent. It was home to one of the greatest Pan-African minds Kwame Nkrumah. The influx of Americans and others from the Diaspora boosted Ghana's tourism sector and there are a lot of great hotels and a good nightlife to explore. It is also home to the Cape Coast Castle in Elmina which holds the “door of no return”, one of the largest trading post of slaves and other resources for hundreds of years. Ghana is also another one of the nations proud of its jollof rice and often competes hard with her neighbor, Nigeria, for the jollof wars. Ghana’s music scene is also pretty live, as it is one of the major contributors (along with Nigeria) to the Afrobeats genre. There are alot of notable artists that come to mind from this country. My favorite is Sarkodie, however, two notable artists that also come to mind are Stonebwoy and a young lady by the name of Gyakie.
Images are courtesy of @whereinaccra.
Finally, we reach the Agba, the Oga of them all! Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with over 200 million people. It also boasts of the continent’s largest GDP. I most recently visited Nigeria, and like every other person, I have a lot of Nigerian friends. I normally refer to Nigerians as the “Americans of Africa”, for their bravado and relentlessness in wanting to conquer everything they do. It's a country with such massive potential but admittedly I am a bit disappointed with the developmental progress it made. However, it’s still a must visit for anyone wanting to understand the young African’s desire to grow. Nigeria’s capital city is Abuja which is located in central Nigeria and is considered the Federal capital Territory. Its former capital, Lagos, is the beating heart of the nation. It is what I like to call “the birthplace of hustle”. It's a nation with a big personality from its people to its resources. It’s one of the largest oil producing nations in the world; it claims to be the king of the jollof wars and I think its population outside of Nigeria has something to do with that. It's the birthplace of Afrobeats which is dominating our speakers all across the world. In the last 5 years I've heard Afrobeats music played in The Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Colombia. Burna Boy is arguably one of the most popular artists in the world today. Its export game is strong, so now lets do some importing and get more people to visit this wonderful country and all it has to offer! For more on Nigeria, check out Tayo Aina on Youtube and @visitnigeria on Instagram.
Images are courtesy of @levithegrapher and @visitnigeria.
We hope you enjoyed this article! Be sure to ask any of the people you encounter from these countries about the Jollof wars and get to booking your flights out as soon as you can. You’re going to be in for an enjoyable experience.