Motivation to Create this Site

Dangerously Safe: A Cross-Cultural Expedition through Modern Africa

I'm a visual storyteller and content creator who has built a career around tourism marketing; to say I'm zealously passionate about travel, would be an understatement! (read my bio to learn more)

So when I had the opportunity to join a friend on his overlanding journey through Africa, I knew there was no way I could hold back from starting an Africa travel photoblog. With an affordable way to travel large parts of Africa, I’d have the chance to go on an in-depth exploration of a continent I knew very little about, and share my stories with others back home.
 

During my first two-month trip through parts of north and west Africa, I explored a diverse, safe and adventure-filled African playground. It was so incredible, I struggled to understand why I hadn’t considered travelling to Africa sooner.

Then I remembered the reactions from many of my family and friends and the online community, who’d all expressed deep concern for my safety before leaving on the trip. I was told "Africa" is too dangerous for travel, but nobody back home wanted to discuss the safety of any particular country or region. Instead, they gathered all 54 countries into one stereotype and deemed the entire continent dangerous and undeveloped. I was warned about ebola, even though I was thousands of miles and multiple countries away from the last recorded case. I was warned about civil war, even though I was nowhere near a location that had experienced war for decades. 

As I continued travelling from country to country meeting and photographing people, I realized how kind, welcoming, positive and happy everyone was. The horrors people had warned me about were turning out to be far from the truth. Staring into the eyes of a lion while on safari; watching a herd of elephants arrive at the waterhole at sunset; exploring ancient traditions and cultures; surfing at beautiful beaches and snorkling with wild seals and dolphins; dancing until dawn in eclectic clubs, cafes and markets; shopping for high quality crafts and Africa-made fashion designs; and nourishing myself with fresh, flavourful organic cuisine. 

Why doesn't the media share stories about this side of Africa? 

Challenging Negative Stereotypes about Africa 

The need for a tool like Face of Africa Today becomes more apparent to me with each passing day, as I continue to witness westerners’ out-dated misperceptions about Africa. Some incidences have shocked me more than others though, and have become the catalyst driving me to publish Face of Africa Today.
 

One such incident occurred before the trip began, when my overlanding friend posted about his upcoming trip around Africa on the popular social media site Reddit.com. Within seconds, a harmless, promotional post inviting people to read about his journey by following his blog, exploded into full-blown irrational and unaccountable anger. After the first 24 hours my friend had received over ten thousand comments of rude, hate-filled rhetoric distilling Africa down to a few negative stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream western media. 
 

“You’ll be robbed and shot dead by the end of the first week” is an example of the comments, from people who had never stepped foot on the continent.
 

In the largest caps letters Reddit would allow, warnings about malaria, guns and AIDS, and all other common African stereotypes came screaming from every corner of the undereducated and misinformed west. Were these people serious? 
 

After thinking more about this experience, I decided to publish a website to justly showcase the people and places who make Africa one of the most incredible destinations on this planet. Just like that, #FaceofAfricaToday was born.

Promote Positivity, Breed Positivity 

Photography and film are powerful motivators for change. With their ability to facilitate a deeper level of knowledge and understanding about cultures aside from our own, they help us develop new avenues for cross-cultural understanding, break down preconceived stereotypes, and challenge pop culture’s spread of out-dated misperceptions. 

 

I am a strong believer in promoting positivity to breed more positivity. Aren't you tired of bad news stories? We could all use more good news stories, and thankfully, there are plenty of them to go around.

I am not part of the African diaspora, so some may wonder why I have become passionate about helping change Africa's narrative. It all comes down to this: Africa has gifted me with a life-changing experience that’s made me a kinder, calmer, more open-minded and community oriented person.

 

With this in mind, I couldn't hold back from sharing my experience in Africa with my community back home.

Visit the Bio page to learn more about this site and the photographer behind it.

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TRAVEL PortraitsStories

DISCOVER MODERN AFRICA

EXPLORE A LESSER KNOWN CONTINENT

UNCOVER AFRICA'S NEW NARRATIVE

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Contact | Face of Africa Today Travel Photoblog | emily@emilysheff.com | Canada

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