“Which is the best city to live in, in Africa?”, is what she asked me. This is my cousin born and bred in the United States. She wanted to use this information to guide her class on a tour of the continent and was keen to have all the necessary info, before boarding that flight. The natural step is to turn to the ever reliable- well, almost alwaysJ- Google. But on hitting “search”, the results were perplexing. This is what prompted our Skype conversation with my young, exuberant cousin.
When it comes to communications, in Africa the narrative is distorted. Scattered even. The data on the continent with its cities remains stretched. The little statistics that emerge are ancient and mostly for research and academic purposes. The remaining information will be that from the government websites, hardly the stuff that will give the real, authentic feel of Luanda’s nightlife or Dar es Salaam’s art scene.
To make matters worse, a search on Nairobi city online for instance will lead you to the American state website which will give you data on the “danger-zones” of the city where “muggings and terrorism” is rife. For the record, this is important information for the purposes of preventive information as due diligence. In any case, some of this data is a matter of fact. What is also true is that Africa will offer you more. So much more.
The hazards that you might encounter on a stroll in downtown Algiers or the coastline of Dakar, are in no way different from what a visitor in Madrid or Sydney might encounter. Not in this century anyway. The threats countries face are increasingly global now.
So, which is the best city to live in, in Africa?