African? Welcome, but not really ... You would have thought that in the age of the African Union, our countries would be rolling out the welcome mat for fellow Africans but in many cases, you would be very wrong.

Author:Odinga, Winnie

This past holiday season I took a trip with my family to the coastal city of Walvis Bay in Namibia. Namibia is country number 31 on my list. When I say 31, I don't mean 31 out of 54 African countries but 31 countries visited in the world, most of which are outside this continent.

Why? It's just too expensive and difficult to travel in Africa.

If you're reading this anywhere in Africa, think to yourself how many African capital cities you can fly directly to from where you are right now? Now think of how many other world capitals you can fly directly to?

The truth is, travelling within Africa is so difficult that it's often just plain impossible.

Let's take our neighbours to the North. Europeans have perfected the art of transportation. Here is a comparison. London to Paris is 288 miles while Accra to Lagos is 285.5 miles. If you decided to drive from London to Paris, it would take you 5h 30 mins (they are two cities separated by The Channel) while it will take you 10+ hours from Accra to Lagos. If you decided to fly the same route, the European trip will cost you under $50 while the African journey would average about $230.

Which begs the question, if the necessity of travelling is still seen as a rich man's game, how can we expect to develop?

No country in the world has developed as an island cut off from the rest of humanity. Travel and the resulting exchange of cultures, practices and knowledge has always underpinned human development and is responsible for all the progress we are heirs to today.

In the dense jungles of South America, archaeologists have discovered remote tribes that, for centuries, have had no contact with people outside their own small environments. They have reached the level of the Stone Age and not progressed beyond it. They have been cut off from all forms of new ideas so they have just repeated what their ancestors did.

The history of the world has also largely been the history of travel and how new ways of doing things have been transmitted from one part of the world to the other. Europe itself was in the Dark Ages until travellers, merchants and others brought back knowledge of science, mathematics and medicine from the universities of the Muslim world.

Today, as never before, millions of ordinary people can afford to travel the globe and see and experience at first hand how others live and what new marvels they have developed. They return to enrich their own societies with fresh ideas.

During the colonial...

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