This week, we have an unapologetic-ally African traveler on the blog. Can we get a whoop whoop!? The Ajala bug a.k.a Margaret is resident in Lagos, Nigeria and she loves to explore the African continent. In this interview, she shared her uncanny passion for traveling Africa, her favorite African cities and hows shes able to juggle traveling and having a full-time job. She’s an Infrastructure and Investment Professional who loves zoos, museums and monuments! You can find her on the gram @theajalabug.
“My name is Margaret. I am passionate about infrastructure development and economic policies in Africa. When I am not working or reading, I find myself escaping Lekki landlord issues, hence you see me in new locations on weekends. Lol. Okay, my previous statement is not exactly true, more like I love discovering new places, learning informally, and appreciating the giver of life, so I travel”.
When you embark on a holiday, what determines your destination of choice?
Once I get favorable answers to my checklist below, then my bags are packed.
- Is it an African country? An African country comes first on my list.
- Do I require a visa? Better if no visit required.
- Can I accommodate the travel cost involved? It is important to me to adequately fund my trip. Flight, hotel with more than sufficient cash in hand. I almost got stranded once, in Dakar.
- What travel time is involved? Ease of traveling to the destination. The shorter the travel time in comparison to my holiday period, the better.
- Are there zoos, museums, or monuments? I love seeing animals in large enclosure and also I love reflecting & learning from history.
- What other sightseeing places/adventures does the country offer? Hiking, chasing waterfalls etc.
- What is the weather condition? I have always been fortunate with the weather but truth is I always check the best period of the year to visit a place.
- Latest news about the destination? Any civil unrest, epidemic crisis etc. I research A LOT, maybe because of my consulting background but due diligence is a must when determining my holiday destination.
What is the one thing you cannot do without when you travel?
Sufficient cash/Dollar card and perhaps my phone. My parents will worry if they can’t reach me but I will worry more if I run out of cash. Lol.
“Though I don’t count countries and states but for this reason I will. I have visited 21 states in Nigeria but explored 16 states”.
Most of your journeys seem to be within Nigeria or exploring the African continent. Are you more inclined to traveling Africa? What inspired/influenced this choice?
Good observation. Indeed, I have an uncanny passion for Africa and definitely more inclined to traveling within Africa largely because of my career but more importantly I desire contributing to change that ‘single story’ the international media tells of Africa. I feel the media has for long being biased about the continent and have successfully shown only slums, diseases and indirectly termed the continent, planet of doom. I remember back in business school in UK, my friends were reluctant to visit Africa simply because of what they had heard through the media.
Though I am very private, I share my pictures whenever I am fortunate to travel not for the likes and comments (lol) but as part of helping to change that ugly ‘single story’ of Africa in hope that more foreigners and even Africans will appreciate the continent.
What’s your favourite African Country yet? Tell us three things about this place that got you hooked.
Nigeria (yes, my people come first), Senegal and South Africa.
Let’s start with home, Nigeria. Nigeria is where I was born, schooled, live and work. I love the diversity of the country, sane and crazy people all in one place. Lol. The country offers everyone that spice they require to live – hills, picnics, cinemas, beaches, museums, art galleries, restaurants, water sports etc. Nigerians are the most authentic people in the world and everyone should visit the country, but take off thereafter. Lol
Secondly is Senegal (specifically Dakar). Dakar is a diverse city full of vibrant arts and traditions. Oh the beaches – did I mention Senegal is like an island surrounded by the Atlantic?! Hence, there are so many beaches to chill at and forget your worries for a minute. Dakar is home to the world’s tallest statue, the African Renaissance Monument. Definitely a must visit.
Lastly will be…South Africa. Actually, South Africa has enough publicity, so over to Togo (specifically Lomé). Lol. Oh my Africa, how beautiful are thou?! Lomé lies on the Gulf of Guinea and has a long stretch of beach with palm-fringed boulevards. I found the city to be very clean and the people were quite helpful. Did you know once dubbed ‘the pearl of West Africa’? A city worth visiting.
How many states in Nigeria have you visited and what’s your most memorable trip?
Though I don’t count countries and states but for this reason I will. I have visited 21 states in Nigeria but explored 16 states. Others where strictly work related.
You need to let us in on a little secret? How are you able to have a full-time job and travel so much?
There’s quite a lot of pecks of being single and having few friends. Real reasons below
- I zoom a lot at weekends (within Nigeria)
- I maximise public holidays, work trips and annual leave
- After paying all dues (lol), I save and then I rarely shop except for necessities
Hotels or Hostels?
I like comfort with a touch of luxury. lol. So hotels please.
Solo Travel or Group?
I prefer group travel with close friends. I love the company of others but since I have few friends, most of which are married, I seem to have embraced solo travel (not by choice).
Northern or Southern Nigeria? Which region will you advise a first time traveler in Nigeria to explore?
Northern Nigeria of course. I traveled the North a lot in the past largely for work and always marveled at the wonders of the works of God’s hands. He is definitely the perfect architect.
“I was teasing a chimpanzee at Abidjan zoo and it got an erection but luckily it was caged. Lol”
From your photos, you pick comfort over style when on the road. What’s your best/most comfortable travel outfit?
My blue jump suit. Lol.
Visiting zoos and museums seem to be something you always look out for. What’s that one museum you’ll visit over again?
The museums in Europe are the bomb. History so well stolen and preserved. Yes, stolen because we have a lot of our artefact in their museums. I have indeed visited a lot of museums from transport museum to Tate museum etc. I can never get enough but coming back to the African continent…hmmmm….., we are yet to understand how to preserve history and cultivate a maintenance culture. That being said, I can’t get over the Military museum in Johannesburg. It made me sad but then, I appreciated the selfless effort of our military. The ones who gave up their tomorrow for our today. I imagined myself as a soldier on the battle field and I wept.
Have you ever had a near-crazy/scary zoo-visiting experience?
*singing* Olorun ma je oooo. Travel mi ko le ba je (God forbid! My travels will not be ruined). Lol. No…..oh I remember one. I was teasing a chimpanzee at Abidjan zoo and it got an erection but luckily it was caged. Lol
You just got back from Lome. Based on your experience, give us three reasons we should visit Lome.
- Firstly, Lome is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the crashing waves at the beach. Yes, there’s a long stretch of beach.
- Secondly, the people are so friendly and go the extra mile to communicate in English.
- Lastly, there are loads of places to visit. The museum, Independence monument, railway (yes, I am an infrastructure professional. lol), Koutammatou, cascade de wome etc
Bucket lists! Do you believe in making them? If you do could you share with the Nomad community what you have on yours?
I sincerely don’t have a bucket list. I just want to visit places and hope my experiences shape me into the person God wants me to be (loving, caring, empathetic, tolerant, etc.)
What is your favorite travel quote?
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has courage to lose sight of the shore”– Andre Gide.
I’d love to wake up in _________
Senja island, Norway! It is the best place in the world to see the Northern lights. It is a natural light displays across the northern part of the world, that makes it special.
Anything else you would like to add? Travel tips or advise
- Do a lot of due diligence/research before you travel.
- Be you! Not because someone successfully couch surfed that you think you can. If you watch horror movies, you will understand what I mean. LOL! I definitely will not close my eyes to sleep. No point.
- Your vibe attracts your tribe. Be reasonably cheerful when you travel, you will find help especially in Francophone countries (if you don’t speak enough French).
- Travel light and comfortable.
- Travel is an expensive venture especially when not commercial, so before you travel make sure your house is in order.
The African continent has so much to offer and we always encourage people to explore more Africa. We have done a bit of exploring Africa and some of the countries visited are Tanzania, Gambia, Seychelles, Morocco, Republic of Benin, Rwanda and Ghana. This is only about 14% and we are hoping to see more. Do you love to explore Africa? Whats your favorite(s) African city yet?
♣ “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has courage to lose sight of the shore“– Andre Gide.