About Advertise
Culture, Reality

African Tourist

by Siyabonga Dennis / Illustration by Keegan Thornhill / 04.06.2014

There is no such thing as an African tourist. Perhaps that should read: “there is no such thing as a black African tourist.” Most of the time us black people are travelling, we get treated like a magical Negro, a rare creature only seen in Will Smith movies and wandering the streets of Qunu. We carry that glimmer of hope that we know how to make Europeans feel better about their violent histories and that we can help you to create Internet campaigns to save Africa from Africa.

Wait until you go abroad and they discover you’re not an African American. Because that’s when their universe gets not only flipped upside down but also changed into an Africa-shaped vaginal opening, into which the New York Times is furiously ejaculating clip after clip of cultural brainwash… because you’re now a gold mine.

You end up being regaled with stories about refugees from Somalia and the DRC, about community projects there and how “everyone there is still so full of life, like they love each other so much! Aw, it’s so heartwarming.” Or how they’ve been planning to walk from Egypt to Zambia at least every year since they finished school, about how her and her two male friends want to raise awareness about child soldiers and/or female masturbation.

Christ, what is this? Do I look like Desmond Tutu? Do I look like I want to hear about your efforts to save Africa? Do you think I have a contaminated water supply or something?

You’d think a black man would fit right in with the travellers in India, but no. Every dreadlocked, spliff-wielding white person in the deserts of Rajasthan treats you with scorn. As if you’re competing for who is the most down with the earth and life and weed. Hey poes, keep your damn tie-dye and trance music; I just want a cup of chai.

“Why is a black man paying to look at things?” you may ask? “Why leave Africa? You guys over there are just as vibrant and colourful and as full of life as these brown guys here are…” Moving on.

Then there is the western world – that land of good governance and mayonnaise. As a black traveler, it will be assumed that you are there to either: (a) sell weed, (b) pimp girls or (c) fuck fat white women. And / or (d) steal jobs and put your whole family inside a one bedroom apartment.

And the police… you know them, you know them well from the suburbs. But in Berlin (here’s the mind buggery), those assholes will talk to you… they’ll talk to a dude like it’s no thing:

“Thee veather is nice here no?”
“It’s cold but cool, umm officer.”
“You ride bicycle yet?”
“No not yet, but I wanna.”
“Ver is yor passport?”

Muthafucker what? How did a conversation about the weather turn into you and your best friend lying spread-eagled on the pavement? You were explaining that your passport is in your luggage at the hotel 10km from away and more importantly that it’s real. Good luck scraping yourself off the pavement after that friendly discussion.

You almost want to cry when no one believes your story of  being a tourist; that you’re not in their country to cast down the pillars of Christendom and cast Charlemagne to the pit. You’re actually just here to fucking look at the cities, even the ones that African slaves built. If you don’t find yourself in an Aryan jail with a bunch of young Turks and the obligatory drunk drowning in his own rainbow of piss, shit and puke, then I clap to your assimilation.

Wanna know why? Why somehow you’ve become an ambassador of that country named Africa? Why people are asking you whether you have microwaves and this thing called “facebook” in your country?

Because there’s no such thing as an African tourist.

*Illustration © Keegan Thornhill

37   4
  1. Bassey says:

    Writing on point dude!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  2. The Thief says:

    Charlemagne bitches!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  3. muddebunker says:


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  4. neoteric says:

    awesome article..love it!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  5. Quite a White Ou says:

    Yho, intense reality check!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  6. Bcross says:

    Ahhhh, so Berlin was built by black slaves, very interesting. Were you selling weed on the streets during history lessons?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  7. Jon Monsoon says:

    @Bcross, perhaps you were the one buying weed during reading class ‘cos he writes “even the ones built by African slaves”, this in a whole new paragraph, meaning to have moved on from the previous paragraph’s topic – and thereby not insinuating that Berlin was built by black slaves at all. Although, if you were present in the history lessons you speak of, you might recall that European colonial officials, tasked with tending the abundant land they had ‘discovered’ (in places like the Americas) soon found that this land was useless without sufficient labour to exploit it; their own European labour sources proving unsuited to the task. The trade capital engendered by the exploitation of these lands was shipped back to the European homelands to help build their own infrastructure, so in that way yes, all things being connected, African slaves built European cities.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  8. Bcross says:

    I disagree, the entire paragraph is related to his incident in Berlin. Cause he mentions the Turks in the “aryan” white jail, which is obviously Berlin Why would he suddenly relate the story to the USA for example. Makes no sense. Although I understand that he is bitter for being questioned by German police, it comes handy to him to play the ‘evil’ German nazi card and I’m a innocent black tourist from Africa. I also have never seen German police through people on the ground for not having a passport with them. Berlin is full of black people from Africa as well as Turks and they all like it here because Berlin protects each and everyone with free healthcare and social security etc. Of course, South African police is way more charming…. chaining people to the back of their vehicles and dragging them to death, executing miners with machine guns at demonstrations? German police officers are like super nanny Marry Poppins compared to the SA police force. One small incident and he’s already throwing around with words like “aryan” makes it sound like Berlin is overly racist, which it isn’t.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  9. cnut says:

    Maybe you’re just a douche-bag… I have no such problems as a black man in frequent travels to Europe and Australia…

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  10. Firedog says:

    You should consider that whites get treated just as curiously in African countries. I tend to feel like a walking dollar note when I travel north from SA, always being hassled by police for bribes and locals on the streets rashing for money. Africans in Europe carry the rep of being from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds, Europeans in Africa get the rep of being from rich and advantaged backgrounds and both are treated accordingly. That’s a consequence of history and culture. The Europeans advanced in technology and knowledge to the point they could dominate the world for a considerable time and reap the rewards of that dominance. The strongest rule and get the biggest part of the pie – that is the way of man and will always be. And until Africa gets its crap together, as a black African you will always be associated with wars, dictators, poverty and disease.

    As to Africans being slaves taken from their home lands by Europeans, it’s important to keep perspective. Europeans have likewise suffered through expulsions from countries in Africa they were often times born in and been in for generations, loosing everything including at times family members in the process. What makes an Black African’s suffering worse or more detestable than a white African’s suffering? The world is a cruel and unfair place, and racism is unfortunately a force that will be at work for a long time yet. But the key is not living in racist paradigm or promoting it. All races have and fill continue to suffer in their own ways – it’s just that suffering inflicted by other races is easier to recognize.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Berlin protects each and everyone” lol

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  12. blast from the past says:

    Jon Monsoon is a plagiarist=he has passed off the work of others as his own=liar.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0