We are living in a multi-cultural society whose differences can be so enormous that only the avid traveler can properly perceive it. A short safari that takes two hours can reveal that what is the norm in one place can be quite different elsewhere, only a small distance away. This is more pronounced when travel adventure involves long distances, particularly to distant cultures. For Westerners, a safari to Africa can quite literally open the door to the unexpected as they are confronted with the truly different, a culture shock that is welcomed by many who keep coming back.
The casual tourist who lands in Africa for the first time must be prepared for a number of surprises. The first surprise is the Language. Kenya, as a representative example, is a country where everyone speaks at least two languages, and many speak three, two of them being English and Kiswahili. This tendency to speak at least two languages is replicated in many of the African countries and for a visitor, what is immediately striking is the accented English that differs from country to country.
The second surprise is mannerisms. Africans by nature are very respectful and formal. In many of the African cultures, there are formalities and protocols which must be observed without which certain events will not progress. Every African clan has a hierarchy of authority; elders must be consulted for major decisions, marriages take place under certain rules and guidelines, traditional ceremonies must be graced by elders, and in some cultures, certain foods are the sole preserve of young females and others that of elders or elderly women, and so on.
The third surprise is food; the fare ranges from the slightly familiar to that in the West to the totally different. In Egypt, for instance, Kushari is a dish comprising of pasta, tomato sauce, rice, and other ingredients that lends it a slight familiarity with Westerners. Mulukhiya, on the other hand, is a greenish broth prepared from jute leaves and can present a tantalizing challenge even to the most adventurous. And in Nigeria, Kenya, DRC, Ghana, and many others, there are as many different recipes as there are ethnic groups.
A tour of Africa is a must for anyone wishing to see the ‘different’ and appreciate the cultural richness that is so evident in the continent. Even though all modern amenities are available in Africa, a truly worthwhile tour of Africa requires a visitor to go to the distant reaches of a country, view the most exotic animals of Africa and vegetation, and mingle with local communities as they celebrate marriages, harvests, cook their traditional foods, and sing songs that can melt even the hardiest of souls. This is adventure travel at its very best.