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‘We Embarked On A Three-Month Journey Through The Motherland To Reclaim Our Roots’

By DeAnna Taylor

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Dr. Alixis Rhodes and JoAnna Gordon decided to do something a little different to celebrate their 30th birthdays. The two friends took a 3-month journey through Africa in hopes of reconnecting with their roots.

We spoke with them about the journey and what it meant to them.

Travel Noire: What inspired you to take this journey?

Alixis and JoAnna: We were turning 30 and that is a big, pivotal moment. We wanted something much more than a party, we wanted to embark on a journey throughout the motherland to reconnect with what essentially makes us who we are. In a time where we see ourselves constantly attacked and not appreciated, we wanted to bridge that gap and bring enlightenment on how western society doesn’t have to dictate what it means to be Black, especially a Black woman.

We wanted to learn more about our heritage while connecting with the people by celebrating and immersing ourselves in the various cultures, traditions, and foods. We decided to embark on a three-month journey around Africa to explore the various regions and gain a better understanding of the rich and vast heritage that is the motherland.

Photo courtesy of @reclaimingourroots

TN: Which countries and cities did you visit?


Alixis and JoAnna: Abidjan, I​vory Coast, Accra, Kumasi, Ghana’s Cape Coast, Lome’, Togo, Cotonou, Benin, Enugu, Nigeria, Lagos, Nigeria, Dakar, Senegal, Marrakech, Morocco, Cairo, Egypt, Aswan, Egypt. Luxor, Egypt, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Omo Valley, Ethiopia, Nairobi, Kenya, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Windhoek, Namibia, Walvis Bay, Namibia, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

TN: How did this journey impact you as African Americans?

Alixis and JoAnna: As African-American women, it had a huge impact on us. To be able to travel around the continent was an eye-opener. It showed us how resilient we are as a people. It showed us how creative we were, but most importantly, it showed us black joy and debunked all the myths they told us about Africa. We were welcomed as long lost sisters who have decided to come home. We were safe and everyone went out of their way to make sure we had the best time. It was truly a lifetime experience that we want to encourage many other African Americans and the African diaspora, if given the opportunity, to embark and experience for themselves.

Photo courtesy of @reclaimingourroots

TN: Tell us about one of your favorite memories from your journey.

Alixis and JoAnna: One of our favorite memories was traveling to the southern region of Ethiopia, Omo Valley to be exact. There, we were able to witness first hand the many tribes of Ethiopia and how they lived off the land without much impact from western society. Talk being resourceful, nothing went to waste. Everything had its purpose and everyone had a responsibility to help keep their village afloat. We learned that Africa does not need a lot of environmental resources from any other country, but every country needs from Africa.

Related:Things To Know Before You Go To Cape Town, South Africa

Photo courtesy of @reclaimingourroots

TN: How were you all treated as African Americans by the native brothers and sisters?

Alixis and JoAnna: In a lot instances they were shocked we were American, they thought our parents had to at least been born on the continent. However, when they realized we were full Americans, they made sure we always felt welcomed in their country. They were a bit sad we did not know exactly where our ancestry came from, but they were so happy we came back to reclaim our roots. They told us to tell all the brothers and sisters in the U.S. to come back home, they miss them. We all need each other to be great.

Photo courtesy of @reclaimingourroots

TN: Where can we find more from your journey online?

Alixis and JoAnna: You can find more of our journey on @reclaimingourroots. Our personal Instagram pages are @dr.arhodes and @thedailycupofjo.

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Travel Noire

DeAnna Taylor

DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.

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