Zakiyyah embraces Africa: A journey of discovery & kindness

by Innclusive - Aug 26, 2016

Zakiyyah embraces Africa: A journey of discovery & kindness

When I was a child I would write books. The main character in all of them was a girl named Afrika. I’ve always had a long fascination with all things AFRICA and all things KINDNESS. ‘Till this day, I call myself the President of Random Acts Of Kindness and now I’m also the Co-founder of Innclusive. Believe it or not, the two go hand in hand.

I remember clearly the day I boarded the plane to Africa. I was finally embarking on my first solo trip to Africa.  I cried on the plane when I realized I was flying over the continent. I cried as I ate my first breakfast “at home.” I was an emotional mess. This was a dream, realized. My plan was to visit South Africa – Joburg, Capetown, and Kruger National Park. This pic was taken at the conclusion of my journey, in front of Lion’s Head Mountain, Capetown. I watched the waves on the beach and reflected on my 3 week journey through Africa… that didn’t quite go the way I planned. It went better. Then of course, I cried. #ThugTears

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One thing about Africa, it has a way of capturing your entire soul. I found myself totally immersed in the vibe. Due to this fact, I ended up visiting four additional countries – not just one as I had originally planned. My travels took me to Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, and this pic below was taken at an all girls school in Zambia. I arrived with bags full of various school supplies and healthy snacks for these beautiful girls.  We played games together, solved math equations, and posed for a few pics.  These are the world’s future scholars.

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Of course when you’re in the motherland you have to go on a safari, or four 😉 as I did.  Don’t worry though, I was walking with babies and that stick was my protection.  This is what the safari leader said to me as I climbed out of the jeep to walk with baby lions.  Apparently, I lost part of my mind while in Zimbabwe. (Peep the fake uneasy smile)

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While visiting Namibia, I had to explore the vanishing tribes belonging to the Himba people. We did not speak each others language, but there was a lot of love translated. Some of best money I spent on my journey was right here in this village. I won’t ever in my life forget these amazing people.  Here’s a fun fact: Many of the women in this village have several husbands that they share a home with. Yup, loved that.

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While in Botswana, you find the local markets and shop, shop, shop.  I arrived with just a carry on bag and left with two suitcases.  My family and friends still call to thank me for the earrings and other trinkets I purchased for them.

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Someone told me there are penguins in Africa.  I thought, “No way! There’s no ice and snow for them to survive!” Welp, I was ignorant lol. At Boulders Beach in South Africa, I swam with penguins. PENGUINS. In Africa! And they are not afraid of humans, they freely travel between your legs and through your arms. I thought this was so cool but their friendliness hurts them. The African Penguin is considered vulnerable and is on the endangered list. We have to do better with these ancient birds.

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If you know me, you know that I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.  That opportunity presented itself at a township in South Africa where I taught lil ones for two days.  Correction – where they taught me.

I arrived with a van full of clothes for the children and staff. They in return, fed me and loved me hard. This pic makes me cry.  The two little ones, Olu and Mary, were my little helpers. Their full time teacher, Ahmed, made it very difficult for me to leave. They thought I would give lessons and they would learn, but it was opposite – I was the student and the lessons they taught were in humanity, humility, and resilience. I’ll never forget them.

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I didn’t get into how I hitchhiked a 9hr ride from the border of Botswana to the capital of Namibia with a famous cricket player, but yes, I did that.

I was never afraid. Hitchhiking is normal and expected in many parts of Africa. The driver name is Skippa. He felt uneasy about me being in his country alone and called me the day after dropping me off to ask if he and his friends could tag along, “to ensure my safety.” All the locals worry about your safety but honestly, I never felt unsafe in any country while in Africa. I’ve felt way more unsafe just walking through my own neighborhoods right here in America.  I digress.

Skippa took off work, asked two of his friends to join him, and they explored all of Namibia with me – FOR FOUR DAYS! I had them riding camels, we climbed the famous Dune 7, we rode ATV’s through the desert, we partied together, ate together, and laughed together.  Many of these things they had never done before. And many things I ate, and music I danced to, I had never heard of before. They are family now. Forever and always.

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There are times when I travel for selfish reasons, I just need to get away. I need a breather. I need space. Then there are other trips where I want to go to give back, to help in some way, to develop real lasting relationships. I did this everyday while backpacking through Africa for three weeks. EVERYDAY. I have so many more stories to tell but that would take way too much of your time.

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Since this trip I’ve returned to Africa twice, that’s 7 countries total – including Egypt and Morocco. I can’t get enough of Mama Africa, I will return often. The goal is to see every country on the continent and as the Co-founder of Innclusive, you’ll not only see my amazing stays, you’ll also see our company good deeds.

Social change through Innclusive is on the horizon. Stay tuned.

Next up – Nigeria, Cameroon and Zanzibar. Care to join me?

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