Multi-talented actor, creative artist and producer, Maame Adjei recently launched her travel show, Girl Going Places, that focuses on showing the continent’s hidden gems & culture as a way of dispelling the narrative of Africa being a ‘dark continent.’ She shares her journey through filming her first season.
What inspired you to start ‘Girl Going Places?’
The year before I moved to Ghana permanently I made a trip to attend my uncles funeral and the one year anniversary of my grandmothers death. It was my first time visiting my mother’s hometown and I was astounded by how beautiful it was. From my mother’s balcony I could see miles and miles of fields and vegetation. It was what I imagined the Italian wine country to be but with drums, loud family members and grit as the soundtrack. After moving back to Ghana I began to try and reshuffle my life. I felt completely uninspired by the scope of work within my field and decided to take a year off and travel my country. As I started shifting around from region to region I knew I had to document my journey. Not just for me but for my Ghanaian friends who had no idea such beauty existed in our own country. Most of my peers never ventured outside of Accra and the idea that something dynamic existed outside of the city was far fetched to them. Then I started thinking of all the Africans, African-Americans and people of the diaspora who had no idea about the untraveled and unexplored beauty of the continent as a whole. The goal for me is to expose the continent, country by country, to the world.
My biggest worry about traveling in Ghana prior to shooting Girl Going Places was how strenuous moving from point A to point B would be. Unfortunately the road infrastructure outside of Accra is not heavily developed and a short 2 hour journey could easily turn into a 5 hour one. What I learnt quickly is that traveling within Ghana is in itself a key experience, especially if you’re using public transportation. There’s no quicker way to understand and experience Ghanaian social culture than being on a public bus. You’ll quickly learn the importance of religion. Every public bus I’ve been on starts with a prayer. You’ll experience the importance of trade. Traders climb the bus or hover around to sell you anything you would need on a long journey: water, food, phone credit. So the journey itself holds a valued experience.
What new places did you discover while filming?
Too many name! And most of them ended up on the cutting room floor. I tried to keep the pilot season short and sweet and focused on the traveler who just has a few days in Accra but outside of the city limits there is unfathomable beauty. My favorite discovery that I got to share was an area about 3 hours outside of Accra called Likpe. It’s a mountainous town (as is most of the Volta region). If you make out alive after the 2 hour hike you’ll experience the most beautiful views of Ghana. Landscapes that seem hand drawn. It’s an intensely overwhelming experience.
What’s one of your most memorable travel experiences in Africa?
So far it’s probably been Joburg and specifically Braamfontein. The energy and vibe is so unique. I was blown away by the hipster culture that had its own “African Swag” and how stylish South Africans were. I just experienced a freedom there. It felt like people were allowed to be authentically whatever they were.
One thing that sets your travel show apart is that you want to encourage internal tourism,many people in Africa have the mindset that traveling is expensive, what are your thoughts on that?
Traveling within the continent is expensive. It really is. It costs about $600 dollars to fly from Accra to Dakar. Considering the proximity of the two cities there is no reason this should be the case. However, I think most people will gladly pay a bit more to go to London or Paris. Why is that? Because you know exactly the experience you will get when you go to London or Paris. If I knew what Dakar holds for me I might be willing to spend my money going to Dakar. If you are traveling on a budget I would suggest that you tcombine trips to neighboring countries. So if you’re going to South Africa add a trip to Namibia and Botswana. It would be cheaper to fly from SA to Namibia than from your home country so it’s more bang for your buck. You can also find an Air BnB, they’re on the rise on the continent and you’ll get great suggestions on where to go from your host. The other thing would be to plan ahead. This is critical for planning any trip. The earlier you plan the more you’ll save.
Now that you’ve launched Girl Going Places , what can we expect?
The pilot season has 6 episodes featuring my favorite places in and outside Accra and I also get to share the experience with some amazing women who reflect who what Girl Going Places is as a movement: Women who are focused, passionate and making strides towards their best life and recognize that travel is a key component of exploring, refining and connecting to who we are. A full season of GGP will launch earlier next year and we’ll be visiting a different African city on every episode.
How can we watch the show?
On our YouTube page GirlGoingPlacestv as well as Reel African.com a platform that streams African content to the world. You can also follow us on @ggptv on twitter and @ggp.tv on instagram and on our website www.girlgoingplaces.org where we give great tips on spots you should visit in each country.