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Visit These 4 Cultural City Centers In Africa For The True Essence Of The Continent

By Kelsey Marie

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If you want to experience the true essence of Africa, you have to visit its many bustling cities. A big misconception about the continent is that all it has to offer are safaris and wildlife. However, the truth is that 40% of the African population south of the Sahara lives in cities.

Africa has some of the most bustling, beautiful, and delightful cities on the planet. There are about 45 big cities full of culture and vibrancy on the continent, but these 4 stick out the most:

Dakar, Senegal

Senegal is one of the biggest peanut producers in the world. The city of Dakar is filled with beach restaurants where you can order as much freshly caught fish as you want. Best of all, the fish is cooked to your preferences each time. 

Hit up Les Phares des Mamelles, a restaurant, and nightclub located at the base of an operating lighthouse. 

Visiting the African Renaissance Monument while in Dakar is also a must. It is one of the largest statues in the world, coming in at 160 feet.

Dakar is popular for its music and you can catch really big performances at the brand new Grand Theatre National. Another new building is the Museum of Black Civilizations, a space used to celebrate the history of Black Africa and the cultural and global impact of the continent. 

Experience history by taking a ferry to Goree Island, one of the main ports where West Africans were sold into slavery in the US and Caribbean. 

Lusaka, Zambia

Zambia is known for Victoria Falls and according to the World Bank, it has the fastest-improving economy in the world. The country was once known as Northern Rhodesia.

You can make your way around the city by ordering taxis to visit markets and shops. Mutendere is the oldest and best market in Lusaka and is best to visit at night. 

Foodies have to try the Katata or katubi (thicker) are home-fermented millet drinks and sold mostly by women. The drinks are served in hollowed calabash gourd used as cups. Also, be sure to try chikanda which is a great pairing with the drinks. Chikanda is a savory loaf made from ground nuts, orchid tubers, chilis, and baking soda.

Head to town and visit Chilenje House where “father of the nation Dr. Kenneth Kaunda lived in the early 1960s while planning independence and playing host to exiled members of South Africa’s outlawed African National Congress Party.”, according to CNN Travel.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Did you know that Ethiopia is one of two African countries never to be colonized? It also has one of the oldest alphabets in the world!

Getting around Addis Ababa is best by walking or taking taxis. It is said that coffee originated in Ethiopia therefore, the art of drinking and making coffee is part of the everyday culture in Addis Ababa. 

Participating in their coffee ceremony is the best way to get a taste of the culture and essence of this city. Finding coffee is super easy as it’s practically on every corner and you’ll be served popcorn to eat with your java. 

After getting your coffee fix, head to the National Museum where you can see Emporer Halie Selassie’s throne and where the infamous Lucy skeleton lives. 

Enjoy jazz at one of the many jazz bars and dance the evening away to jazz and music from the continent. 

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

This country is known for being the biggest producer of cacao in the world. They also are one of the biggest producers of coffee globally. 

The city of Abidjan has a population of about 5 million people and the best mode of transportation is taking a taxi. The architecture here is very modern, a result of the economic book in the ’50s and ’60s referred to as the Ivorian Miracle.

If you’re into custom clothing, head to Marcory Market where you can find a seamstress to handmade any item of clothing in a day or two. You’ll even be able to pick out your own patterned cloths.

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Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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