Africa is richly endowed with varying cultures and customs. However, only a few talented people can take on writing jobs and tell the true story of a continent that has seen it all. Therefore, before you can start writing a story on your travel in Africa, it is important to ask vital questions such as the following:
What is there to see in the African continent?
How do I write a travel story that everyone will love?
Which side of Africa should I project to the world?
The above questions can go on and on forever, but without the right tips on how to be a travel writer living in Africa, getting started with a moving literary piece can be painstakingly difficult. Hopefully if you are African you will be telling stories from the perspective of a local living in any of the vast regions of the continent. But whether you hail from South Africa, Libya, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt or Nigeria, being able to tell a great story boils down to the following:
You need a platform
First off, you aren’t going to write for yourself. You need to have a platform through which you can reach readers. In this age of the internet, creating a website or blog is everyone’s first choice. However, print can still do. If you are an ardent reader of African stories, high chances are you already learn a lot about the continent through books. Think about ‘Dreams from My Father.’ A novel by former U.S president Barack Obama gives you an African story from inside out right up to the very top.
Identify an area of interest
There is so much to write about Africa that you are truly spoilt for choice. From traditions, colonial history, economic activities, political establishments, religion to customs, becoming a successful an African travel writer should be premised on taking a stand on an issue. It is all what identifying a niche to explore.
Learn a language or two
Some of the Africa’s writing greats like the late Chinua Achebe from Nigeria made sure to tell a story in a way that everyone would say ‘that is an African write telling a story in the best of his knowledge.’ His literary pieces were never devoid of local dialect and names, yet they made great sense in different parts of the world. The catch here is that whether you choose to express yourself in a few lines using Swahili, Yoruba, Zulu or Buganda, including using names of Africans as the main characters in a travel story, learning a few languages of locals will make your authentic.
Talk about great physical/geographic features unique to Africa
Africa plays host to diversity of cultures in particular. But again, the continent is richly endowed with all the wonders of Mother Nature. It means, if you are to become an African travel writer, your story would be incomplete without mentioning a trip across the Sahara, Zambezi River, The Nile, Egyptian Pyramids, Cape of Good Hope, Mara River and Wildebeest Migration in Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Victorian Falls in Zimbabwe and others. It will always depend on where your journey takes you.
Writing about a trip around Africa should be an interesting experience provided you take the above tips into consideration. If you are a freelancer who wishes to launch a successful career in travel writing there is no better place than Africa; it is a place of magic, beauty, history, politics, culture, food, music and so much more – a brilliant source of material for all writers.
Guest Post by Liana Simmons