Today, Africa is mainly represented by non-Africans via various forms of media. There is usually talk about a sordid continent where only famine, wars, poverty and other scourges happen. After numerous trips to different countries across Africa, one realizes that the continent has multiple sides: beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, warm and mostly welcoming people, a myriad of opportunities and important challenges.
This is what inspired Diane Audrey to create Visiter l’Afrique, an interactive and collaborative digital platform dedicated to African tourism and culture. Visiter l’Afrique covers the continent from East to West and from North to South. The traveling community publishes stories of a community of travelers who have visited the continent and who share their trips, their favorite places/things and their encounters. People connect to stories and what sets Visiter l’Afrique apart is the authenticity.
“I wanted to create a platform that would present an Africa without filters.” she explains, “to help depict a more objective view of the continent, by rethinking its image far from the usual stereotypes and without denying its problems.”
Afroelle: How has your perception on Africa as a whole changed since you started Visiter L’afrique?
Since my adolescence, I always thought that the magic we need to change Africa is inside us. For me Africa was magic back in the days and today I can share it with thousands of people all over the world.
Diane Audrey: What excites you about travel?
I always act as a traveler not a tourist. It’s really difficult to see me out to parties or ‘turn-up’. I tend to look for really authentic experiences. I have always believed that travel teaches you without a scorecard. It enriches you gently. When you step out to see the world – meet people, get acquainted with different cultures, taste new cuisines, you learn a lot! I’m glad to be able to meet people trough Instagram, I love it. 95% of my time, I travel solo. I know it can be scary to travel alone, especially when you’ve never done it before. But, to me, growing old without experiencing everything you want from life is scarier.
A: Of all the African countries you’ve traveled which one is your favorite destination and why?
DA: Cameroon, simply because it is the miniature version of Africa. On a personal level, my country has a landscape that portrays many parts of the continent such as its mountains, plains and plateaus. Whenever I travel within Cameroon, the beautiful scenery always marvels me. In addition to that, the food at home is excellent because the women know how to flavor the local dishes especially the braised fish dish. But my last crush was Saint Louis in Senegal. I loved the colours, the architecture, the art galleries and of course people and their kindness.
A: What’s your most memorable travel experience in Africa?
DA: Maybe my last trip, in Senegal. I took a short ferry ride away from Dakar to go to Goree Island, home of “the door of no return”. It was full of emotions. I saw the dark, cramped cells where dozens of people were packed together for months on end, with heavy chains around their necks and arms during slavery. Goree is a beautiful and peaceful island. I wanted to photograph everything Goree is quiet, welcoming. It’s so disturbing to know that many people lost their lives here. I had the same experience in Ouidah, Benin. It’s really important to learn about our history and be proud of it.
A: According to you, which African country is the most undermined when it comes to travel? Why do you consider this a hidden gem?
DA: Sudan! I was talking about this destination with a friend. A lot of the sites in Sudan are great tourist secrets. The only time the government have occasionally talked about tourism, they talk about Islamic tourism. I don’t have the impression that they are ready to celebrate the history of civilizations here goes back millennia. I hope to go there before the end of 2017 to produce content (picture + films) for my platform.
Read the rest of the interview in our June 2016 Issue here.