Photo Credit: Mina Asaam
'To Be Able To Walk On The Same Soil As Your Ancestors Is A Blessing'
London-based traveler Mina Asaam is 28 years old and works in the publishing industry. Having visited over 40 countries worldwide, travel has always been a part of her life. As a London born Ghanaian, Mina’s first trips were to Ghana before she could even talk.
At the age of 18, Mina began venturing out to explore other destinations. Volunteering in India took her on her first solo trip and from there she was hooked— especially on solo traveling.
“I really am inspired by the chance to take a bit of control over one’s life,” she said to Travel Noire. “I see it as a form of self-care because you’re completely alone, and you can make any decision that you want without having to answer to anybody. That’s what I really love about solo travel. It’s entirely selfish and indulgent, and we all need that sometimes.”
In 2019 Mina made it a point to visit other African countries and spent three to four months traveling up the east coast of Africa, starting in her home country, Ghana.
“It was really nice to see Ghana from a new perspective as my boyfriend was African-American. It’s a rite of passage to visit places like Elmina Castle in Cape Coast, and on that tour some of the things they were telling me really surprised me regarding the history of my own ancestors— those who weren’t kidnapped and sent to America.”
“In East Africa alone we saw so many changes in culture and food as we traveled along probably only about 5% of Africa. It was eye-opening! We got to learn a little Swahili, zipline, and take a 50-hour train from Zambia to Tanzania. We saw elephants, lions, and giraffes on a safari, climbed mountains, and visited amazing beaches. This trip had everything.”
Mina says one thing she will never forget from this trip was seeing the majestic Victoria Falls. It was the first thing she had seen traveling in years that moved her to tears.
“I feel like after a few years of extensive traveling you can become a little complacent, so seeing that incredible piece of nature really knocked me sideways and had me like OK, I’m here and I’m alive and I’m so blessed.”
Mina says she is glad that more and more people from the diaspora are returning home to visit Africa.
“I think it’s important for us to try and branch outside of the popular African destinations like Ghana and South Africa to see more of the continent and experience things our ancestors may have valued. To be able to walk on the same soil as your ancestors is a blessing that many of us don’t get to experience daily.”
One thing Mina is certain of, is that Black people from anywhere in the world will feel at home once they set foot in Africa.
“I tend to write a lot and I like to journal. It feels very cliché to say it, but I distinctly remember writing that I just felt so at home. I just looked around and I was engulfed in this sensation of grounding, whereas I often feel restless and very ‘on-the-go’ in my regular life in London.”
Living in the U.K. as a Black woman, Mina says, can be a complex and, at times, frustrating experience. Although it’s her home, there are many times when she simply does not feel like she fits in.
“It’s that age-old question, where is home? And there’s also that sense of always being hyper-aware that you’re a Black person and how that can affect your behavior, especially in a professional setting.”
“I am glad to be in one of the most multicultural cities in the U.K. though, so for the most part, I feel happy. I don’t suffer from too much overt racial discrimination these days, but the subtleties can get to you if you let them!”
Although it is not yet clear when it will occur, Mina is eager for the U.K. to loosen their travel restrictions so she can once again explore the world.
“I miss traveling very much. It changed my whole life. It made me braver and willing to take risks in every aspect of my life. It made me more caring about myself, the world, other people, and the environment. Traveling is just always such an eye-opening experience.”
Earlier this year, Mina booked a trip to Brazil for the latter half of the year, but says she’s still unsure if she’ll have the opportunity to go.
“I constantly have around three trip options and itineraries written down, just in case. If the state of COVID-19 improves, and I get that chance, I will be on the plane tomorrow. But for now there’s nothing solid.”
You can follow Mina at @wheresminaagain.