Look no further

Ghanaian broadcast journalist and msafiri’s regular business columnist Komla Dumor
urges us to look at the endless possibilities for taking time out in Africa

The year is moving fast. I hope 2013 has got off to a good start for you and your business. At the beginning of 2013 I promised myself I would start the year with renewed intensity. My philosophy has always been to work hard but make time to rest and enjoy the fruits of my labour. It is good for your business and it is good for your physical and mental health. For that reason, although we are only half way through the year, I don’t think it is too early to start thinking about a break.

As you read this piece in msafiri I don’t think I am far off in assuming that you are a) on a plane heading to that holiday; b) on a business or social trip or c) working in the airline industry.

A few weeks ago I had a good conversation with a friend of mine, a Nairobi-based entrepreneur, about the merits of holidaying in general and holidaying in Africa in particular. She told me she had been incredibly stressed out at work. Her suppliers had been unreliable. Her service providers had not been consistent and to add to her problems her Internet service was down again for the third time in a week. I could hear the frustration in her voice. I am sure most of us have been at that point before.

She said to me, “Komla, I need to come to London and detox.” I paused for a moment and looked out of the window of my apartment towards the grey, cold skies and said, “You want to come to London to detox?”
Don’t get me wrong, London is one of the greatest cities in the world. A city with enormous history and culture and a melting pot for anyone and everything. I love living here. It’s a place that must be on everyone’s list of places to visit.

Then I started thinking about all the places in Kenya that offered a sunnier option for the desired detox. “You mean you didn’t think about Mombasa? You didn’t think about the Masai Mara?” I asked her.

I have had this conversation before – with other friends from Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda who have inadvertently missed the hidden gems in their own backyard.

I think about some of my favourite places and the experiences I have had there. The beaches of Freetown, seaside restaurants in Dar es Salaam, nightlife in Maputo, the sunsets in Durban. Kitale, Cape Town, Axim, Bolga, Ouagadougou, Swakopmund, Gaborone, Addis Ababa! The list of options in Africa is endless. The quality of the options is getting better with each passing year. Many of the biggest international hotel chains are making huge investments in Africa’s fastest-growing economies. But the best brand ambassadors for African tourism should be the citizens of those countries.

The Brazilian Carnival has become one of the biggest events on the global tourism map. That didn’t happen by accident. The fact is however, the biggest patrons of the world’s biggest street party are Brazilians. The truth is that there are so many places to go to detox in Africa. Look for them. Find them. Get off the beaten path and discover a new piece of the world right next to you.