The Time I Traveled Through West Africa & Didn’t Get Killed by Terrorists
This is a simple story about how being a stranger in strange places isn’t as dangerous as we tend to project. How we interpret stories in the media, I believe, must always be measured.
And if you’re in trouble, it’s amazing to think heroes like these two guys to the left will give their lives to save your adventurous butt.
I’m just now reading Friday, May 10, on NBC News and BBC about two French commandos killed in Burkina Faso in a rescue mission to save tourists captured by kidnappers. You hear these stories every few months, it seems, as the Sahara and sub-Sahara regions of Africa increasingly are faced with the violence that comes from terrorism. When I hear of a hotel attack in Bamako, Mali, a violent beheading of two Swedish women in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, or this incident that started in Benin and ended in bloodshed in Burkina Faso, they’re not random West African locations. A decade ago, I was there for six months and was in each of these places. I felt safe. I loved the people and the landscape. And I would return again.
This is despite writing stories about a Nigerian bus ride from hell where the universal feeling among fellow passengers on our 27-hour epic journey was we were destined to be robbed or worse. Or being witness to “jungle justice,” as my Cameroonian co-worker called the vigilante mob killing outside our three-month compound, which left a dead corpse for nearly three days on the street (my blog post title: “CAMEROON, Bamenda: There’s (still) a Body In Front of Our House”). Despite those experiences, I wasn’t stressed. I felt these events were anomalies.
Plus, it’s debatable who’s more vulnerable in certain areas: The locals or the travelers. We all remember the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls after the abduction by Boko Haram…