Anna Acheampong’s daughter came home upset from school one day in The Netherlands, after questions came up about her race. What was most shocking to Anna was that her daughter insinuated that she would have more friends if her hair was straighter and her eyes were blue.
“My daughter started noticing that she was different from the rest of her classmates and when the questions came up, I asked myself, ‘do I want to raise my kids in this environment?’” said Anna to Travel Noire. “For me growing up in a white neighborhood with white people around me in The Netherlands, I have what I call a ‘race radar.’ I felt racism so much, and I don’t want that for her.
Anna and her husband have Ghanaian fathers and Dutch mothers. They decided to use their daughter’s experience as a teaching moment and moved to Ghana to teach their two-children more about African culture and heritage.
The Acheampongs began their journey during the Year of Return campaign in 2019. It was only supposed to last one year
“I remember our immediate circle saying, ‘Are you crazy?’ ‘Why would you go to Ghana for a year?’” said Anna. “That’s why we started documenting our time here in Ghana on YouTube.”
Through their family YouTube channel, the Acheampongs hope to change the narrative of what it’s like to live in Africa. Anna admits that she was exhausted from the hustle-and-bustle in Europe. In Ghana, the family spends more time on their mental health and wellness and spending quality time together. Anna tells Travel Noire that the best part of living abroad is the fact that they are celebrated in ways they were not in The Netherlands.
“It’s still a very strange thing that we’re learning to deal with. We’re coming from receiving racism to being celebrated. When we tell people that we’re Ghanaian, we came back, people are genuinely happy to be to meet us. It’s amazing,” she said.
Dr. King may have never delivered that speech if not for Henderson Travel Service breaking borders to become the first Black-owned full-service travel agency established in the United States.
Transatlantic travel by plane in 1964, at the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, was not easy for Black Americans. It was only nine years prior that Rosa Parks was arrested and charged for breaking segregation laws for refusing to move further back on a bus to allow 4 white people to sit in her place.
Black people traveling through airports often faced discrimination. While the individual airlines were not legally segregated, airports often were.
Congressman Charles C. Diggs Jr. of Michigan supported a bill in Congress to desegregate federally-owned Washington National Airport, but the bill did not pass. In December 1948, after direct appeal to President Truman by a member of his Committee on Civil Rights, National Airport’s restaurant was desegregated. Subsequently, other airports started to follow after legal and political pressure.
But it was the help of Freddye and Jacob Henderson, the co-founders of Henderson Travel Service, that ultimately made travel for Black Americans easier.
Courtesy of Gaynelle Henderson
The birth of Henderson Travel Service
Mrs. Henderson’s desire to start an association of Black women fashion designers inspired the creation of the company. The Atlanta-based fashion designer and Spelman College professor founded an organization called the National Association of Fashion and Fashion Accessory Designers at the suggestion of Mary McLeod Bethune.
After launching NAFAD, Henderson wanted to host a fashion convention. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt suggested that she try to have it in New York City because it was the epicenter of fashion as we see it today.
But it wasn’t going to be easy.
She wanted to host the convention inside Midtown’s luxurious Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue. Even in the north, which was often viewed as a safe haven for Blacks in the south, the hotel initially denied Henderson’s request to hold a convention because of her race— until First Lady Roosevelt stepped in.
“They were able to hold the conference in one of the ballrooms, but they were not able to stay in the rooms,” Gaynelle Henderson, heir and now president of Henderson Travel Service told Travel Noire. “There were women from all over the US who came together in New York for this convention.”
Despite the challenges, it was at this convention where Mrs. Henderson connected with the French Ambassador to the United State’s wife, who suggested that the group travel to Paris for the Christian Dior spring fashion show.
“My mother ended up organizing the travels for this group of Black fashion designers where they sat front row of the Christian Dior show,” Gaynelle added. “Since they were already in Europe, she also arranged for them to go to London to see one of the biggest designers at the time, and then on to Spain.”
Henderson returned to the United States with her eyes wide open. She was amazed by how well-received the group was in Europe compared to the US, especially in the deep south.
“She told my father that if more Black people knew how easy it was to travel internationally, and how well-received they would be in Europe, that more would travel internationally,” said Gaynelle. “That was the driving force for starting a travel agency.”
Similar to the difficulty with organizing the travel convention in New York City, the Hendersons came across some roadblocks when launching the company. White men owned most travel agencies at that time, and to be a recognized company, sponsorship was needed as well as an Airline Reporting Commission bond
Mrs. Henderson met a woman at a familiarization trip for travel agents who helped her get the ARC appointment, and she officially opened the doors to the first fully appointed African American travel agency.
Founded in 1955 in Atlanta, the agency is responsible for getting Dr. King safely to Oslo, Norway, where he became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at that time, for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice.
“We were the official travel agents for Dr. King and organized his travel to receive the Nobel Peace Prize,” Henderson said. “That was an interesting project because he and his wife never traveled on the same plane just because Dr. King’s life was always being threatened. They always chose to travel separately, so someone could be there for their children.”
The Henderson heir said the Kings were dear friends to her parents, who handled most of the Civil Rights leader’s trips to Europe and other destinations.
Like the Kings, many of Black history’s most notable figures and prominent organizations relied on Freddye Henderson’s travel planning expertise. Everyone from The National Medical Association, James Baldwin and Olympic track star Jesse Owens, utilized Henderson Travel Service to get them safely to their destination.
Two years later in 1957, Mrs. Henderson took a small group of travelers to the Ghana to celebrate its formal independence from Britain.
It was her hope that Black Americans would become more educated about the Motherland by traveling there, and in turn African Americans and native Africans would begin to foster meaningful relationships.
This was so important to her that the agency’s motto became “education through exposure.”
“My mother had to charter a plane from Paris to Africa because there were no commercial airliners flying to Africa. During that time, Africa was still considered the ‘dark continent.’”
In 1984, as the US transitioned from segregation to integration, Gaynelle moved her parents’ company to Washington, DC, after graduating from Howard University.
“The beauty of a business like Henderson Travel Service, is when you look back at the times in which they were founded,” said Shellée Haynesworth, founder of Black Broadway on U Project. “A time of segregation and blatant racism. We were often regulated to our own communities. Their business and the work that they were doing gave us an opportunity to move beyond our own communities to learn something new, explore and see the full possibilities waiting for us outside of America.”
Henderson Travel Service has been credited for pioneering African American travel to West Africa well before there was a “Year of Return,” and the company has received numerous awardsfor its trips to the Motherland.
The agency has also partnered with Landtours, a travel agency in Ghana owned by Mona Boy, to continue Black cultural heritage trips to Africa.
They managed to create and open a lane for Black Americans to travel to Africa when it wasn’t possible
Henderson Travel Service present day
“That [creating a lane] is a major contribution of our tours throughout these last six decades,” said Gaynelle. “I’m really interested in encouraging more tourism to West Africa and through this partnership with Landtours, we will continue to thrive as Henderson Travel Service here in the US, and continue sending hundreds of people to Africa.”
Even though she’s now in her 70s and her parents have transitioned, Gaynelle continues to oversee the day-to-day operations of the business and is still very active in helping groups plan trips. She was recently credited for helping a semi-large group of Black lawyers plan a trip to Ghana and Senegal.
As early as the 1600’s, enslaved men and women were brought to Bermuda on ships in route to the southern states of the United States. They worked mostly in the the maritime and tobacco industry, but often fought back and rebelled.
During Bermuda’s period of enslavement, Black men and women would come together in the wee hours of the morning to build their own structures and community buildings. While it was all illegal, they never stopped creating and laying the bricks that would later inspire Black Bermudians of present day.
The report valued potential leisure-travel spend among the four states analyzed at $34 Billion.
Overall, the relative importance of African American culture in choosing a destination is high, with 36% of all travelers ranking it either “very important” or “somewhat important.”
The report also sheds light on the most desired cultural experiences. “Experiencing local cuisine” was cited by 65% of the travelers surveyed, setting the stage for more investment in educating Americans about traditional Gullah Geechee foodways and creating more cross-cultural culinary experiences around Gullah Geechee restaurants, farms, and chefs.
“I introduced the legislation creating this National Heritage Area to help preserve this important culture and create heritage sites that could become touchstones for attracting tourists,” said House Majority Whip Leader Congressman James Clyburn, representing South Carolina.
Just off the east coast of the island of Madagascar, is where you can find some of Africa’s most pristine beaches and exotic wildlife. Mauritius, an island nation itself, draws in visitors from all over wanting to walk its soft-sand beaches
What if we told you that you could make this exotic island your home office for the next year?
Well, you can! The nation recently announced a new Premium Travel Visa program for non-citizens, looking to change the scenery as we continue to move through this new normal of remote work. The visa is valid for at least 12 months, with an option to extend your stay.
The new Premium Travel Visa for Mauritius is available to all non-citizens and valid for up to one year, though it can be renewed. Travellers interested in an extended stay must arrive to this island nation as a tourist, retiree, or as a professional traveling with their family and intending to work remotely.
Applicants must also show proof of their long-stay plans and have travel and health insurance coverage for the initial part of their stay. As with most programs in the new wave of long-stay visas, visitors in Mauritius are not allowed to enter the country’s workforce and must have a source of income outside of Mauritius. Other supporting evidence that must be supplied include details about the applicant’s purpose of visit and their accommodations, as well as other basic immigration requirements.
Once you arrive, you are required to quarantine for 14-days, as well as present a negative COVID-19 PCR test. Mauritius has been able to keep their cases pretty low throughout the pandemic.
The applications for the visa will be available soon. To learn more and to apply once available, visit; edbmauritius.org.
Since March, we’ve all watched as the coronavirus forced the closures of nearly every border around the globe. Countries around the world are starting to welcome back tourism by reopening their borders to international travelers. After nearly six months of lockdown, South Africa is one of the latest countries on that list.
‘We are ready to open our doors again to the world,” South African president Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement announcing the decision, “and invite travelers to enjoy our mountains, our beaches, our vibrant cities, and our wildlife game parks in safety and confidence.”
High-risk travellers: are those who come from countries with higher numbers of COVID-19 infections and reported deaths compared to South Africa.
Medium risk travellers: are from countries with relatively equal number of infections and death toll to South Africa
Low risk travellers: obviously originate from countries with lesser number of infections of COVID-19 and death toll than South Africa.
Leisure travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted, amongst them includes the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
“Travellers intending to visit the country will be expected to produce a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. This test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted such test,” said Pandor.
Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Travellers will also need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.
Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10 day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.
However, South Africans are able to travel to any country that currently allows travellers from the country to visit.
Data for the mentioned countries will be reviewed every two weeks, and categories may change based on the data.
All visas that may have expired during the lockdown period remain valid until January 31, 2021.
Three airports will be opened and operational for international air travel. These airports are OR Tambo International (in Johannesburg, Gauteng), Cape Town International (in Cape Town, Western Cape) and King Shaka International ( in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal).
As air travel continues to slowly pick up amid the ongoing pandemic, many airlines are completely reimagining their route networks. For United Airlines, that means announcing seven new long-haul routes, including three new destinations in Africa. United says it’s adding international flights where there’s existing demand, especially tapping into traffic from travelers from the African diaspora visiting their friends and families
Newark, New Jersey—Johannesburg: beginning spring 2021
Washington, D.C.—Accra, Ghana: beginning late spring 2021
Washington, D.C.—Lagos, Nigeria: beginning late spring 2021
Tickets will be available for purchase on united.comand the United app in the coming weeks, the airline says.
“Now is the right time to take a bold step in evolving our global network to help our customers reconnect with friends, family, and colleagues around the world,” Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of international network and alliances, said in a statement.
Throughout the crisis, United has been taking an “opportunistic approach” to expanding its network, driven by demand, says Patrick Quayle.
United highlighted that when its new nonstop Accra service launches, the airline will be the only U.S. carrier offering the nonstop flight from Washington, D.C., home to the second-largest population Ghanaians in the United States, according to United.
In addition to Africa, United is adding nonstop flight routes to Israel, India, and Hawaii.
The new routes include:
Chicago—Tel Aviv, Israel: beginning September 2020
Chicago—New Delhi, India: beginning December 2020
San Francisco—Bangalore, India: beginning spring 2021
Last week, the carrier announced that it would end change fees for all domestic flights in premium and regular economy cabins. On Wednesday, it also expanded that policy to flights to Mexico and the Caribbean.
Many African nations are starting to reopen airports, remove curfews, and slowly resume international tourism.
Most countries in Africa have been very strict on containing the spread of the virus, with most of them going into complete lockdowns earlier this year. That means nobody in and nobody out. Now that case numbers are relatively low across the continent, some nations have already reopened, with others making plans on how to reopen responsibly
Here are the countries on the continent that are currently open to tourism.
Although land and sea borders are currently closed, commercial flights have resumed. International travelers will have to present negative COVID-19 test results 5 days before arriving.
Travelers will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
This African country reopened its borders on August 15th and visitors will be required to present negative COVID-19 cases within 3 days of arriving.
Travelers may have to quarantine and get tested again after arriving.
Egypt opened its borders on July 1st to travelers. Upon arrival, visitors are expected to have a valid visa, wear face masks, complete a health declaration card, provide proof of health insurance, and complete a temperature check.
When visiting Ethiopia, travelers are expected to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test results taken within 5 days of arrival. A 14-day quarantine will also be required as well as being tested again when arriving.
If visitors don’t have proof of a negative COVID-19 test, a mandatory quarantine will go into effect at an Egyptian government designated hotel for 7 days at the expense of the traveler. A test will be administered at the end of the 7-day quarantine.
Starting September 1st, Ghana will open its borders to international passenger flights. Travelers will have to show negative COVID-19 test results taken within 3 days of arriving as well as being tested at the airport upon arrival.
Land and sea travel will still be prohibited.
Kenya reopened for International tourism on August 1st. Visitors will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival.
July 1st marked the reopening of Liberia’s borders. Visitors will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of arrival as well as a health and temperature check upon arrival.
All nations can visit Rwanda, which reopened on June 17th. You must email your negative COVID-19 test to firstname.lastname@example.org within 3 days of arrival as well as print a copy of the email to show to customs when arriving.
Visitors will be tested again after arriving.
Sao Tome and Principe
Visitors arriving in Sao Tome and Principe will have to be tested and quarantined for 14 days in addition to showing a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of arrival.
Senegal reopened its international borders on July 15th but land and sea borders are still closed. When arriving in Senegal, visitors will have to complete a health declaration form as well as provide a negative COVID-19 test taken less than 7 days from departure.
Seychelles opened its borders on June 1st and are accepting visitors from ‘low’ and ‘medium’ risk countries.
Travelers will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of arrival.
Sierra Leone reopened its borders on July 22nd but land borders are still closed. In order to enter, visitors must complete a travel authorization card, have a valid visa, show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 3 days of arrival, and pre-pay for testing upon arrival.
There will be no quarantine in place for travelers to Tanzania but visitors will have to go through temperature checks, wearing masks, and social distancing.
Visitors must complete an online immigration form prior to arriving and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of arrival.
Tunisia reopened it’s international borders on June 27th and is allowing visitors from certain countries to enter with no testing or quarantine while others will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 3 days of departure.
All nations are able to visit Zambia as long as proof of a negative COVID-19 test is provided.
Jamaica is a land with a very distinct personality, so much so that much of its culture has filtered down to some of the smaller islands of the Caribbean; everything from the music to the fashion and lingo. Jamaican culture has also gone international, seen in the most significant way on the entertainment scene, with international musical acts being influenced by Jamaican Dancehall and Reggae. The result being an ever-evolving musical contribution that is a fusion of places, cultures, and people.
Here are Interesting Facts about Jamaica that you probably didn’t know before reading this!