Photo Credit: Akosua Awusi
How This African Tour Company Is Cultivating Authentic Experiences
Growing up, Akosua Awusi had her sights set on working in Ghana but creating an African tour was not initially part of the plan.
Awusi is a first-generation American, born and raised in Maryland to Ghanaian parents. Her childhood memories include summers spent in the West African country with her mother and brother. It was during these annual trips that she first felt the pull to return to Ghana on a more permanent basis. At least for a while.
“One thing that I remember growing up, that always came to mind, is that what I saw of Africa on the television when I was in the United States never looked like or wasn’t wholly representative of the Africa that I would see when I would go there for my summer vacations,” she told Travel Noire. “So that’s one thing that always stuck on my mind. And I knew I wanted to have the opportunity to actually work and live in Ghana full time.”
After graduating with a degree in finance from Philadelphia’s Temple University and receiving her MBA, Awusi began working for an investment company. But Ghana was never far from her thoughts. An opportunity finally landed on her doorstep a few years later via an offer to work in international development.
“So working more on health, malaria, traveling around Sub Saharan Africa, working with national governments and their Ministries of Health, and other development partners,” she explained. “That was a wonderful experience. I was based in Ghana, but traveling around Sub Saharan Africa and really working and living the Ghana/African experience. It was amazing. I loved every moment of it.”
While in Ghana, Awusi had several friends make the trek from the United States to visit. It was no different than years before when they asked to accompany her during vacations. Each trip would mean introducing them to landmarks and areas she was long familiar with, but she was more than game to experience them again through fresh eyes. When these friends started recommending that other people seek her out on their trips, Awusi saw an opportunity to craft itineraries for visitors.
“Africa is a wonderful melting pot. But traveling in Africa is not like traveling in Europe. There are lots of nuances. Public transportation isn’t hopping on the tube in London. So several years ago, I decided to launch African Conversations and Connections Tours.”
This is not your run-of-the-mill African tour. The focus is on what Awusi likes to call ‘Black Africa.’
“That’s our specialty,” she shared. “I know people love Egypt and Morocco. But my focus is really on Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Travelers have two options. For people who want to visit Africa, but don’t have any friends or family joining them on the trip, the open group tours allow solo travelers to share the experience together. Private group tours are available and curated according to your party’s interests.
Feedback on the tour has been overwhelmingly positive and in some cases completely unexpected. For some, visiting their ancestral land can be transformative. Awusi has had clients dissolve into tears on arrival in Ghana.
“Because of where the country was positioned during the historical slave trade, it has a lot of historical sites that deal with or commemorate the atrocities that happened to tens of millions of enslaved Black people. And so even going to these historical sites, there are so many emotions. You have people who are just quiet and they’re taking it in. You have people who need just some time away. You have people who are just processing.”
On the lighter side, 2019’s Year of the Return was a particularly jubilant period for visitors to Ghana and equally uplifting for the country and continent. As the tour name indicates, Awusi wants her guests to actively engage, and she facilitates that process by inviting other individuals with shared interests on the tour as well as her local network of friends and family.
“If someone tells me that they have an interest in public speaking, I’m going to connect you with a speaker or speaking opportunities in Ghana. I really want there to be a connection in some way, shape, or form — going beneath the surface. I think for me, it’s always been really important to be authentic. I’m not just someone who has a tour company, but an African who’s really showing both sides of Africa. You’ve got so many dynamics, and I want you to walk away having met new friends and people that you can keep in contact with. That’s really one of the goals of ACC Tours.”
Find out more at African Conversations and Connections Tours.