Even people who know nothing about Africa still know that it’s a veritable treasure trove of pictures. It’s a continent full of exotic plants, exotic animals, and even exotic people. From the densely populated urban centers to the open plains, from north to south, east to west, and coast to coast, tourists flock to Africa, cameras in tow. Here are ten pictures that (almost) everyone takes in Africa.
1. ZOO ANIMALS ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD
Let’s face it, you were 15 years old before you stopped confusing rhinoceroses and triceratops. To folks like us, animals like zebras, giraffe, and ostriches live in only one place – the local zoo. So, to see one of these exotic creatures running down the road is a thrill. (Pro tip: if it’s running toward you, put the camera down and start hoofing it!)
2. CRAZY TRAFFIC
In most countries in Africa, you will eventually be confronted by the most insane traffic you’ve ever encountered. When this happens, you will try to take a picture of it. The picture will completely fail to do justice to the claustrophobic predicament in which you find yourself. That’s OK. Shoot away. Your friends may not understand, but you can relive the terror every time you see the pic.
3. WEIRD THINGS ON MOTORCYCLES
There is something in the African spirit that just won’t accept defeat. When all you have is two wheels and a motor, this means going to extraordinary lengths to get large objects from point A to point B. Furniture, ladders, and livestock all make their way around city and country roads on these bikes, and there’s almost nothing that someone hasn’t attempted to haul on one.
4. OVERLOADED VEHICLES
Similar to the motorcycle, but with much greater capacity, trucks (lorries), vans, and even cars are regularly loaded to the max in Africa. Whether full of stuff, people, or both, these overloaded vehicles push the limits of automotive engineering. They also beg to be photographed. After all, when is the last time you saw a truck piled 20 feet high with anything in your home town?
5. GUY PULLING A CART
The ubiquitous two-wheeled cart can be found all over Africa, and indeed, the world. How this simple design, including the rear “brake” tire has found its way across continents and oceans is one of the world’s great mysteries. However they came to be, these carts, and their faithful manpower, provide a great photo op, and a good lesson in the effectiveness of simple machines (you know, like you learned about in physics class).
6. PEOPLE CARRYING THINGS ON THEIR HEAD
We westerners think it’s oh so funny to see an African carrying something on his or her head. To us, it’s a bit of a parlor trick. That’s because we typically have at our disposal other means of carrying things. But when you have to carry water from the next village, or firewood from a far-off forest, this vertically-aligned carrying position is the way to go. Still, it does make for an good picture.
7. INTERESTING CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES
OSHA doesn’t have a field office in Nairobi or inspectors in Lagos. What Africans have is sheer will…and cheap lumber. Who needs metal scaffolding or fancy cranes when you have a bucket of nails and plenty of manpower? While tourists may cringe at the sight of these makeshift construction sites, the truth is that many buildings in much of the world have been constructed this way. Of course, if you fancy climbing up there, OSHA recommends a hard hat.
8. FUNNY SIGNS
When considering the humorous nature of some of the signs you see in Africa, pause for a moment and think how odd of a sign you might create if asked to write only in Swahili. Google translator to the hilarious rescue! Still, when you see a sign announcing half-off heads at the barber or a fried chicken beast special, it’s worth a spot on your SD card.
9. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Driving is an art form in many African cities, so why not do it in style? The personalization of these people movers runs the gamut from spiritual to sexual to…well…Eminem. The goal? To make you look. If you look, you might hop in. If you hop in, the driver gets paid. At the very least, these wheels are more entertaining than MARTA busses.
10. PASTY WHITE PEOPLE WITH THE TRIBE
If you take the time to visit traditional tribal people, it’s almost mandated that you get together in a group and take a picture. If you happen, like yours truly, to be incredibly lily white, chances are you will also show off your goofiest face while having said picture taken. (Yes, that’s me on my first trip to Kenya. I was really happy.)
*BONUS: TRIBAL PERSON TALKING ON A CELL PHONE
Most westerners don’t know just how widespread cell phone usage is in Africa. In areas that never had landlines, cellular technology has vastly transformed how locals communicate. No more walking for hours only to discover that the well is dry. Now, a quick call or text message will let everyone know the location of the nearest water. Still, it is quite odd to see a Masai tribesman, decked out in traditional dress, carrying a long walking stick, reach into his shawl and pull out a Nokia. Ancient meets modern in today’s Africa. Bonus points if you capture it in an image like this!
Adam is a pastor, blogger, and writer, as well as a husband, and father of two who recently relocated to Nakuru, Kenya to launch a new church community. For more information about this new endeavor, visit www.trinitykenya.com.