“My feet have crossed the ever-crowded Nakonde border of Tanzania, I have shook hands of the poor but wise people of Kibera, I have shared meals with the elders under the luminous African sky in Aswan, my eyes have seen beauty beyond description in Maputo, I have walked the desolate Great Zimbabwe Ruins and marveled at their magnificence, I have ridden a camel up a hot Egyptian desert to marvel and gaze at the majestic man-made mountains of Giza, the cooling showers of Mos-oa-Tunya otherwise known as Victoria Falls have run through my back, I have heard echoes from my ancestors at Isandlwana gently whispering “Africa will be great again”, the eyes of mine have witnessed the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean kiss at the Cape Point and they also have peeped through the aeroplane window to see the tip of Julius Nyerere’s Mt. Kilimanjaro as if affirming to me that “Uhuru is possible!” I have seen Africa through God’s Window in Mpumalanga, but, just like many, I am trapped in this paradox – How can Africa be so poor but yet so rich?!”
Her name is Sindi Buthelezi otherwise known as Azania Zulu – A traveler, photographer, IT specialist turned creative entrepreneur and Founder and Creative force behind the clothing brand AzaniaZulu. Sindi grew up in Northern KwaZulu Natal in Mpangeni and Nqutu but now residing in Pretoria, South Africa. She is passionate about travel, more particularly Africa and its diverse cultures. but above all else, Sindi considers herself one of God’s servant whose duty and purpose is to help rebuild Africa.
AC: You travel Africa extensively, what has been your favorite travel experience or adventure in Africa thus far?
The thing about Africa is that each place brings its own aroma to the table but the best one so far for me has got to be my visit to Egypt. I will never forget the first time I gazed at the magninomous man-made mountains of Giza, I’m very passionate about Ancient History and the world of antiquity as a whole. The funny thing is I found a sense of freedom as a solo traveling woman in a place that expects women to be conservative. I stayed there 3 full weeks, exploring Upper and Lower Egypt, visiting places like the Nubian Village, the famous Library of Alexandria, dining in the street, visiting Memphis, entering Ancient tombs and meeting fellow travelers, scholars, scientists, philosophers, wizards, you name them, from the world over, all brought together by the magnificent and mysterious Land of Kemet.
AC: How about any travel/adventures mishaps or bad experience on the Continent?
Just like any other place, one is always prone to pick-pocketing, mugging and other small crimes when they advertise themselves as tourists. You know the type that carries their equipment and cameras carelessly. Well, I’m a good at camouflaging. I’ve been traveling for almost 10 years now and I’ve learned the art of looking like a local in a foreign place. The only thing I can regard as bad experience every time I travel is the long queues at the borders. They’re enough to question one’s love for travel.
AC: Part of your goal is to encourage intra tourism in Africa. Why is it important for Africans to visit what is in their own backyard?
To some people who’ve never set foot beyond their borders or bothered to read more about our continent, Africa is nothing but a nightmarish continent, an embodiment of zero-progress, never-ending wars, darkness, social ills, poor governance, aid-dependency, et cetera. It is much seen that way by many due to the infamous term, “The Dark Continent”, coined by those who knew nothing or understood little of the continent’s geographical interior. Those people’s views of Africa are informed by the negative images masquerading the media, portraying Africa as a place of doom and gloom.
It is during my travels that I have learned that Africa is not what the media usually portrays it to be: entirely poverty and disease-stricken, aid-dependent, just a hopeless continent with no future. Africa’s beauty, richness of culture, interconnectedness of the people and overwhelming landscapes, surpasses that which has been fed to us in a continued subliminal fashion, thus giving me reasons enough to want to share my story and travel experiences with others.
Africa is nothing but a land of extravagant beauty and spectacularly breathtaking landscapes. It is a home of a loving and caring people who thrive on the spirit of love and Ubuntu, the very essences of humanity. It also has a voice which has been silenced and overlooked for a long time. Nevertheless, whichever angle one looks at it, Africa is a land of great mystery, of fortune and of misery for some. It is one of my wishes to see more and more Africans traveling their own continent, exploring the interior, its diverse cultures and most importantly, it’s rawness. Without intra-tourism, we run the risk of seeing an increase in Afrophobia, prejudices and continued ignorance.
I’ve started Let’s Travel Africa, a network and platform for the young and those young at heart who wish to travel Africa but don’t know how to go about it. In it I will be partnering with various travel houses such as Vuk’Afrika Tours to promote and experience mass intra-tourism in our lifetime! All of this because I firmly believe that a well-travelled mind is a wise mind.
AC: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in visiting Africa for the first time? In your opinion, what African country is a good starting point to visit? Why?
Being a South African, I will tend to be biased but mainly for good reasons. First and foremost, leave ignorance behind, bring an open mind, fly straight to South Africa. When you land, make sure you head straight to the Kruger National Park, you will never regret having that as a welcome and introduction to Africa. Go and see that your Timons and Pumbas are real and that Mufasa is still alive. Go for morning and night drives, immerse yourself in nature and feel the Spirit of Africa and imagine a time when we were one with Nature. After that you can come out and see the people, explore cultures and cities. Explore Kenya, experience the Maasai Mara, climb Kilimanjaro, see the Great Dzimbadzemabwe ruins, be intoxicated by fabrics in Ghana, taste the spices in Morocco, dip your feet in the Namibian sand dunes, etc. Bottom line is, Africa is Heaven!
AC: What do you think has been the biggest thing you have learned while traveling?
One of the best things I have learned while travelling is self-reliance, independence and fast thinking. I have also learned that each destination has got its own history, challenges and victories that have shaped its soul. Therefore I always treat every place as unique. Finally, as dynamic as a culture is, it is that which a people use to define and distinguish themself from others, an echo of their beliefs, way of living and ultimately their spiritual landscape. Traveling continues to teach me to treat other people’s cultures as sacred.
If there’s one thing that can be said about travel is that it is mandatory, never optional, because out of it comes an expansion of one’s world-view, a conscious being, one who is always hungry for knowledge and most importantly, one who understands that we are one humanity.
“Until the lions tell their story, the tales will always glorify the hunter.” – African Proverb
Want to know more about Sindi aka Azania aka Adventurous Chica? Here is how:
www.letustravelafrica.net (coming soon)