African lineage and the rediscovery of oneself has become an integral part of Jamaica's culture. Historically, Jamaica was considered one of the first states of Africa outside of the continent; a country as rich and fruitful, ethnically and socially diverse as the African continent itself. This historical connection and the inherent desire for Jamaican's to reconnect to their culture has seen a peak in travel from the island to the continent of origin, Africa.
Attorney and professor, Tiffanie Anderson, wanted to create a channel for Jamaicans and others throughout the African diaspora interested in visiting and learning more about Africa. Anderson wanted to give people a way to not only get to Africa, but a way to explore and discover the continent with purpose. That is why Away To Africa was created and is now in its second year, giving people a renewed sense of the natural spirit of Africa.
Away to Africa embraces three primary pillars of service: leisure, entertainment and business. It currently services four African countries: Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa and Mozambique. In 2017, the company will begin offering tours to Tanzania, Morocco, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
We recently caught up with Anderson to learn more about her current Away To Africa programs.
KINGSTONTOLA: How did Away To Africa get started?
TIFFANIE ANDERSON: Ten years ago I studied abroad at the University of Western Cape Law School in Cape Town, South Africa. This was my first experience of Africa. Prior to visiting Africa, I must admit that I had preconceived notions of the continent, as the media displayed Africa in a totally different light than what I saw with my own eyes. While in law school in South Africa, I studied with South African students who quickly became more family than friends. I traveled to Johannesburg and Durban. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I were truly at home. After sharing my passion and experience with my friends and seeing how my experience of Africa intrigued them, it led me to believe that I could follow my passion and spread the beauty of Africa through an organized format with Away to Africa. The name is pretty self-explanatory. It is for individuals who are ready to go to Africa, but do not know where to start, where to visit, how to obtain a visa and don’t know anyone on the ground. This is the company that will provide all of these things and more - A Way To Africa.
KNG2LA: Who is your target demographic?
TA: Away to Africa's target demographic ranges from a variety of different social groups including millennials, sororities, fraternities, college students overall, young professionals and wanderlusts looking to explore Africa. This also includes travelers from Asia, the United States, South America, Canada, the Caribbean, and London. We also target Africans located on the continent, as many Africans are looking to travel to countries in Africa for business and leisure as well.
KNG2LA: What are some of the greatest experiences you can recall travelers having during their Away To Africa program?
TA: One of the things I am most proud of is our Community Outreach programs whom we partner with closely. Away to Africa incorporates community outreach activities within each trip. This allows the traveler to gain an even greater experience connecting with Africa's communities. Recently, Away to Africa was able to partner with an organization in South Africa which teaches students how to code. During a discussion about short and long term goals, we learned that one of the students was a lyricist outside of the classroom. One of our Away to Africa tour guides is an award-winning poet, so after everyone shared their short and long term goals, the two collaborated and began freestyling. It was truly a delight to watch.
KNG2LA: Can you share some of the feedback you have received?
TA: People are really receptive and enthused at the idea of an African focused destination company. There is currently a conscious and social awakening among people of African decent, and they are starting to become more curious about African culture. This increase in interest and attraction to Africa leads to having a business that will provide an opportunity for others to gain knowledge and answers to questions from a personal perspective through touring Africa! People have wanted to explore Africa for so long and Away to Africa is a company that provides a dedicated service to do just that, including safety and affordability, in addition to a well-rounded, fulfilling experience.
KNG2LA: How would you like to see the program grow?
TA: By the end of 2017, Away to Africa would like to expand our destination services to additional countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Morocco and Zimbabwe. Away to Africa is also interested in forming a non-profit foundation benefiting the communities within Africa by collaborating with the various outreach programs we integrate into our tour program.
KNG2LA: Is there a Jamaica/Caribbean connection to the program?
TA: Jamaica is the closest thing to Africa outside of Africa. There is also a mutual respect between various countries in Africa and Jamaica, each embracing and appreciating the other. I personally feel as if the Caribbean, more specifically Jamaica, keeps African culture alive, as Jamaicans continuously support the movement of traveling to and repatriating back to Africa. Much of African culture is still alive through Caribbean music, food and culture.
KNG2LA: Which influencers would you like to see become affiliated with the program?
TA: Away to Africa would love to join forces with a variety of different mediums and artistes including AfroPunk, a web magazine that focuses on the cultural movement of alternative urban youths highlighting music, art, fashion and more, and Ethiopian and South African Airlines, two of the most dependable airline carriers offering straight flights to Africa. Persons who Away to Africa would love to see as ambassadors include entrepreneur Rohan Marley, as I truly admire his business acumen and the road trip throughout South Africa provided so much inspiration when I was starting the company. I would love to team with recording artistes Kelissa, Akae Beka and Mos Def who have all made huge efforts to incorporate Africa into their lives through music and film. South African DJ Black Coffee is also on that list. He's made himself a household name in Africa and throughout the world and he is currently one of my favorite DJs.
As people become increasingly interested in the program through the desire to explore and know more about Africa, the program is expected to grow exponentially within the next few years. Away To Africa is now enrolling travelers for their upcoming trip to South Africa in March 2017. For more information, follow Away To Africa on Instagram @awaytoafrica and sign up for their newsletter on AwayToAfrica.com
Photos courtesy of Away To Africa.