One of the loveliest afternoons of my life was spent writing proverbs onto pieces of slate beside an idyllic lagoon in southwestern Ghana. You often find you take a little piece of a place with you when you travel – it’s nice every now and again to know you’ve left a little piece of yourself behind.
Tiny babies, chunky toddlers – it’s a continent-wide scenario. How many babies have grown into toddlerhood across Africa, seeing the world pass by on its side?
Mystery meat stalls are such an intrinsic part of travelling that it only seemed right to ask for a photograph of Thomas, with his corrugated aluminium kebab stall under the shade of the looming baobabs – and he was happy to oblige.
In a small corner of Ghana’s Upper East Region, the buildings themselves tell stories. Faint patterns emerge on the adobe walls of the compounds and granaries and huts. Smudges of red ochre, ebony and ashy white flake from the baked mud, becoming richer and more visible the further north we travel.
Chief Zotentaar-Suhbazaa of Tengzuk sits beneath a vast baobab, squinting at us through his orange-tinted aviators. He is an extraordinarily powerful and respected man, as his entourage and his ceremonial walking stick suggest, and so, presumably, does the neon-streaked beach towel he has draped casually around his neck.
Bo-Kaap provides a colourful contrast to Cape Town’s black and white nature – in more ways than one. Its buildings are painted every colour under the bright African sun, seducing photographers with its rainbow palette. And its Cape Malay residents are a blend of yet more ethnicities, a culture as colourful as its streets.
A tour of a Nambian township is a start reminder of what Nelson Mandela – who is 95 today – has achieved. Apartheid literally means ‘apartness,’ ‘the state of being apart,’ and to be confronted by the physical reality of this was incredibly shocking.
Namibia’s “Sand Sea” – the Namib Desert , has today been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The desert’s burning sun, unobstructed by clouds or trees, paints with light and shadow on the sloped surfaces – the rust red walls, the white clay floors, the dark, hardy camelthorn trees.
We normally assume that an architect, an artist, a businessman wishes to create something that will outlive them, which will exist long after they are gone. Yet Stephan Brückner, the creator of the spectacular Wolwedans Lodge collection in Namibia, has quite the opposite intention.
“In 200 years,” he explains, waving his hand towards the main lodge, “there will be no evidence that thousands of people stayed here.”
The Batwa – Uganda’s “first people” – were nomadic hunter-gatherers who developed advanced hunting and trapping methods. Their profound knowledge of the forest allowed them to harvest honey, fruit and roots to use produce food, medicine and shelter. But when the forest became a national park, the Batwa were moved out. Now, the Batwa Trail is their only chance to return to their ancestral home.