'Returning To Africa, You Realize The Resilience Of Our Ancestors'
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alexa Moore

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alexa Moore

'Returning To Africa, You Realize The Resilience Of Our Ancestors'

Ghana , Namibia , traveler story
Ayah A.
Ayah A. Mar 24, 2021

Alexa Moore is a 25-year-old communications contractor and part-time travel blogger and content creator. Born and raised in Arlington, Virginia, she has traveled to 37 countries and says some of her most amazing travel experiences have been to African nations.

“When I traveled to Namibia in 2017, I was so excited to finally be in the motherland,” Alexa told Travel Noire.

Aside from the country having some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes she has seen, Alexa says visiting Africa also inspired her to want to learn more about her heritage.

“I remember the Namibians I was interning with telling me stories about their heritage. They could trace their great great grandparents and ancestors back to different tribes and kingdoms. I told them the farthest I could trace was to an ancestor in 1864, one year after the emancipation proclamation was signed. They were shocked that I couldn’t pinpoint a country, tribe, or even area.”

Photo courtesy of Alexa Moore

With that experience, Alexa began to truly desire to know her origins. When Ghana launched their Year of Return campaign, she saw it as the perfect opportunity to explore her heritage.

“We as Black Americans, have our own history, cultures, and heritages. We have cuisine. We have languages and dialects. The beauty of returning to Africa is seeing how our traditions we learned from our ancestors have survived through generations.”

“From the foods we eat to the stories we tell. The braids we put in our hair. Even the music we sing at church. Returning to Africa you realize the resilience of our ancestors and it is so powerful. They were stripped of everything yet persevered.” 

Photo courtesy of Alexa Moore

While in West Africa, Alexa visited all the slave dungeons and slave ports she could in Ghana, Benin, and Senegal. Visiting these places changed her life forever.

“As students, we were taught about the atrocities of slavery. But to stand where slaves once stood and see the damp, dark dungeons my people were packed in really changed me.” 

“At these slave dungeons I visited several doors and gates ‘of no return’, portals that my ancestors walked through in chains hundreds of years ago. I remember how heavy my spirit felt, but how uplifted I felt at the same time knowing that I had finally returned. I made the loop. I made it back home.” 

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Despite growing up in the United States, Alexa says she always feels the most welcome and comfortable in African countries. Ghana, in particular, was a place where she met some of the most gracious and loving people who would go out of their way to make sure that she was okay.

Another thing Alexa appreciates about visiting Africa is the fact that there, she can blend in more.

“Something I value in travel is being able to observe a society without sticking out too much. Being in non-Black countries or areas generally means I will not have a chance to do that. Yes, most people, even in Black countries, can point me out as a foreigner or an American, but I don’t feel like my every move is being watched, as I did in India.”

Photo courtesy of Alexa Moore

Alexa traveled to India to study abroad while in college. She says that while most of the people she came across greeted her with smiles and curiosity, she was also met with unkind laughter and jeers.

“Who knew that middle-aged adults staring and laughing in my face could make me feel so small? I was called some choice words in Hindi, that my Indian colleagues did not even want to translate for me. I felt especially uncomfortable by the men in India, who made me feel like a zoo animal by taking photos of me even after I said no.”

“I’m not naïve, I knew my skin color and long box braids would not allow me to blend into a country like India. Yet, I thought there would at least be moments I could experience alone. I did not have that opportunity. I was watched and observed from the moment I landed to the day I left.”

Photo courtesy of Alexa Moore

Alexa says another thing that can make it burdensome to be the only Black person in a space, is feeling the need to serve as a representative for the whole race. Sometimes, in these situations, she feels pressure to be more forgiving of people’s curiosities, as well as intrusions such as trying to touch her hair.

However, negative experiences like the treatment she endured in India are not enough to stop Alexa from exploring the world. She even says she would visit India again.

“Many of my friends think I’m crazy, but I would absolutely return to India. While I did experience so many lows there, I also experienced so much beauty and joy.”

Photo courtesy of Alexa Moore

Alexa is unsure what international travels are in store for her this year, but she will definitely be traveling to California this summer to do some domestic exploring. You can follow more of Alexa’s travels at @lilmsawkward.

Related: The Black Expat: I Left My Dream Job In America To Travel Across Africa