Tourism in West Africa: Beyond the Myths

The western world tends to hold a very skewed misconception of Africa, "and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete."


To many, when they think Africa, they think mud huts, no electricity, half-naked primitives, and happy yet hungry people who are waiting for that monthly charitable giving donation to come through.

For so long, many have associated the whole of Africa with the charity commercials filled with images and narratives of the poverty-stricken black child with a swollen stomach and flies around his face.

On the flip side, they also imagine luxury safaris were travellers can hunt exotic animals like the ones they have seen in ‘The Lion King’.

In recent years, we have been presented with some over sensationalised ideals like Zamunda in ‘Coming to America’ and ‘Wakanda’ in the Marvel blockbuster, Black Panther. Both extremely positive but both places are fictional, and not necessarily true to form.

Be it negative or positive, these stereotypes of Africa are not the most accurate, and they tend to originate from the point of views of non-African writers and filmmakers.

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Chimamanda N. Adichie.

American rapper, J. Cole recently went to Lagos, Nigeria for a concert. European and American artists do not tend to frequent most African countries, and some commentators from the West were shocked to see Africans at a concert, knowing the lyrics to songs.

It led to some even asking ridiculous questions as to how this was possible in a place without electricity; how were Africans able to sing along to J. Cole’s English songs?

This is why it’s imperative to counteract the false narrative that is constantly being spewed about the motherland.

Some western tourists visit all-inclusive resorts in Sharm-el-sheik, Egypt or Marrakech and believe they have an understanding of the whole continent.

Sub-Saharan Africa has always had a negative reputation. It is presented as an oppressed part of the world dealing with extreme poverty.

The world needs to see more stories on the progression of African countries. For instance, West African countries are filled with beautiful, distinctive, culture and history you will find nowhere else in the world. There are iconic landmarks with great weather and amazing people.

West African countries are being overlooked as a result of decades of negative stereotypes that have been further perpetuated by leaders and influencers in the western world.

Black Panther stars Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira recently went on a ‘girls trip’ all over Nigeria. They positively documented the trip by celebrating the culture, people, and food with their social media followers, allowing them to see a part of West Africa they might not have been privy to. This might seem tedious but it’s what we must continuously do to keep changing the negative perspectives.

The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and memorial park, located in downtown Accra, the capital of Ghana.

West African countries have so much to offer to the world.

Most, if not all, West Africans are bilingual, some even trilingual. With over 300 tribes and countries, the diversity and fiercely protected culture is unique and equally celebrated and shared with the world.

Its jubilant, vibrant, and buzzing atmosphere is definitely addictive and will make you feel at home.

When you hear from people who have recently travelled to Nigeria, Ghana or the Gambia, their experience is described as inexpressible. The experience is unique and like nowhere else.

Whether it’s Senegal’s elegant yet chaotically vibrant and glittering markets and nightlife tempered with exotic beaches and serene seaside villages that take your fancy, or its deep green valley of flowers and sugar canes, perfect for hiking.

In Accra, Ghana, you will be able to visit museums and art galleries steeped in history, where you’ll learn the true history of Africa from Africans.

Nigeria with its powerful, dominating, and pulsating day and night life, is home to one of the world’s largest film industries – Nollywood. Catering to all tastes, you can enjoy everything from organic, fresh, street food to the finest in gourmet dining.  

Simply put, whatever kind of holiday you have in mind, you can find it in one of the wonderful West African countries. There is absolutely something for everyone.