Swaziland was phenomenal, I will post more pictures in a second, but I just wanted to share with you the place my roommate and I stayed! It was a pristine wildlife sanctuary called Mlilwane, we stayed in traditional Swazi beehive huts which were super fancy inside actually lol.
The grounds of the camp were awesome, the staff was so nice and warm, and we even had some Swazi dancers and singers perform after dinner. I, per usual, was like the only black person on the camp. Seems that only white folks travel and explore Africa More on this later.
Nonetheless, the Swazi dancers made me think of African authenticity, and how many travelers and self identified explorers are always steering clear of tourist traps or things they deem as unauthentic. I always hear things like “I don;t want to go anywhere where there are tourists, I want a real authentic Africa experience, not just a whole bunch of white folks watching African dance!”
This makes me wonder if those people understand how their need to have this perceived African authenticity is actually commodifying Africa just as much as those pesky tourists they always complain about. When you have a vision of how, when, and where you would like to consume African authenticity, it is no longer authentic. When you turn your nose up at those cliche “African” restaurants, tours, or stores because they are only for tourists, you are creating your very own stereotypical perception of Africa. A perception that is just as annoying as any loud American or bougie European tourist.
Its like, they can not appreciate that no matter the presentation or venue, African culture is real, it is authentic, and it is not about YOU. It is about the pride and the spreading of the culture, the dance, the food, the jewelry. Africa makes money off of tourism, yes, so there are definitely venues that are catered to rich white folks who want to see some African women shake their boobies in loin clothes, but at the end of the day, there is still REAL culture behind these “unauthentic tourist traps” that should not be undermined.
All I ask is that people release the chains of expectations when it comes to visiting and experiencing Africa, get off those high horses and be open to culture no matter the presentation or environment. Because there is culture here on this continent that will be there no matter how large the group of tourists.