Have you ever visited any country in Africa? If so, what is something that surprised you the most?
I have been to Egypt, Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Zaire (now the DRC), The Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Angola, Kenya, Tanzania and Benin.
The most surprising thing is how well I liked Nigeria. At the time (misd 80s) Nigeria was perhaps the most corrupt country in the world. The hotels, even the highest end ones were over ran with prostitutes including children. Venture out on the highways and you encountered gangs extorting money for "environment stickers" You even brought your toilet paper down to the front desk when you would go out and pick it up when you came back or it would disappear. In short it was a mess. Yet I found the warmth and real friendliness of the people more than made up for everything else. (though even 30 years later if I ever have to stay in the Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt again...)
Last year I visited Kenya and Tanzania. What surprised me were the still relatively huge game reserves and the number of wild animals still roaming them.
As early as when I was a teenager in the 1960's I feared all of the large wild animals in Africa would be on the verge of extinction before I would be able to get there to see them.
The sounds that the animals make.
A lions roar can be heard miles away. It's not that it's loud, it's just this weird frequency that just goes forever. They can scare prey into running the wrong direction headlong into the waiting pride.
A hippo will lounge around hidden in the tall swamp grass and grunt ever so loudly. Yet you'll never be able to tell from what direction it's coming. You'll swivel your head in frustration trying to zone in on the location of the grunts.
A family of elephants will walk by and you won't hear a single sound. It seems like these enormous creatures tip toe past you in stealth mode.
I love Africa!
Yes, I have been in Africa before, in fact, I have most of my origin there. I am a French-born Congolese from both Congos, in other words, the Congo Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I left France and when I arrived in the Congo Republic, I noticed that it was almost as clean as my country of birth in the 1980s, but in some areas of Brazzaville roads are not paved. A a decade later , the transport system and the economy started to deteriorate and the infrastructure was easily neglected. The same with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and this frustrated me a lot, especially when I saw individuals throwing piles of trash everywhere; 64% of the world's dirtiest cities are in Africa unfortunately. Many African societies struggle to keep their cities clean and always find someone to blame, I always hear about Colonialism and slavery destroying our continent, something that just kept on getting on my nerves. Subconsciously, we don't want to take care of our cities because they were built by Europeans colonists, not Africans - it keeps us backwards. Also, besides Addis Ababa, no African city has a subway. Some even use old newspapers for toilet papers, to me Africa is a book man good stuff. There is so much poverty, ignorance, neglect, the tolerance over wrong things, high levels of domestic violence and the belief in witches and casting evil spells on other people. There are still large majority of people in Sub Saharan Africa who don't have access to electricity; many still go and fetch water in creeks, rivers and streams in 2018. The only country in Africa where I felt like I was living in paradise is South Africa, a country that is as clean as France and Denmark. We need to stop making excuses, really!
I visited Malawi last year in February, and I was surprised to find multiple extremely well stocked 2nd hand markets.
I mean gold mines, I bought three pairs of shoes, to Adidas and a pair of AF1's really cheaply.
It turns out that there is so much foreign aid sent to some African countries, in this case it come in the form of clothes, but what people don't realize is that the majority of Africans don't really have trouble clothing themselves, and most of it get sold at 2nd hand markets.
In Morocco I was suprised how green the north of the country was. In Tunisia I think it was just how similar Tunis was to most of the cities I've visited around Europe just with things like the kind of shops, the layout and the public transport system. Even outside Tunis a lot of the country felt quite westernised, slightly more so than Morocco.