Meet Tiffanie Anderson, an attorney, professor and the founder of Away to Africa – the only Black-owned travel destination company that provides almost 20 cultural experiences to select countries in Africa, annually.
Tiffanie nostalgically describes the feeling of visiting Africa for the first time… It was during law school for a study abroad program in South Africa.
“When I arrived it was more beautiful than anything I could have imagined. I fell in love… And when it was time to depart, I cried uncontrollably, because I knew that Africa had become a part of who I was. I was determined to see how I could incorporate it into my future life,” Tiffanie shares.
Ten years later, in 2015, Tiffanie left the United States, where she was born, raised and now working as an attorney, to move to Jamaica and launch Away to Africa.
She had always gravitated to Caribbean culture and even considered herself Jamaican, but it wasn’t until she became an adult that she found out that those leanings were born from a true connection… Both her maternal and paternal grandfathers were from the island. That, plus the fact that Caribbean people seemed to have retained a greater kinship to Africa, nudged Tiffanie to make the bold move, as she felt that was where she could build a strong customer base for Away to Africa.
Her mission with Away to Africa is to get people to travel to the continent, and do it in a way that leaves a deep mark on their hearts. “I love to see the emotions when people touch ground on the continent for the first time. You can see that it’s a life-changing moment.”
Tiffanie has travelled extensively throughout the continent, and she’s adamant that people of African descent and those who never left, are, at their core, one in the same.
“It’s so interesting… When I’m travelling the continent, I meet so many people who look just like people I know. The bloodline runs thick among Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora. We need to dispel the idea that we are different. We are all Africans at the end of the day,” Tiffanie explains.
She also wants travellers to leave the savior mentality at home, and instead take time to connect with people and seek collaborations.
“There are brilliant minds here, doing brilliant things,” she asserts.
Beyond the stereotypical view of Africa as a land of safaris, Away to Africa experiences are steeped in cultural immersion, an exploration of the continent’s natural beauty and possibilities for connection with its people.
Community outreach, for example, is a critical component of every tour. “We have a day where we go do something in the community,” Tiffanie says. “A lot of people like to donate money, but I think it’s more important to donate time so you can connect with the people and really understand the mission of the organizations we work with. For example, in South Africa we’ve teamed up with an organization that provides coding classes for single moms and elders in the community. We also partner with an orphanage in Ethiopia and Ethiopia Skate Park. In Ghana we partner with a school for the blind.”
Travel, of course, came to a screeching halt in 2020, and with flights and borders closed, the pandemic bulldozed Away to Africa’s operations.
Nonetheless, Tiffanie has found a way to thrive within the chaos of the times.
“For me personally, it has been an amazing time,” Tiffanie reflects. “I’ve been in Lamu, Kenya, so I’ve had some time to really sit down and focus on things that are important to me. I’ve appreciated the simple thing of being able to unpack my bags and live out of a closet. I’ve taken the time to reflect on the things I needed to change for myself. I’ve been in Lamu this entire time, and that’s therapeutic within itself.”
This inconceivably slow season has also deepened Tiffanie’s commitment to building Away to Africa in a way that is of greater service.
In 2021, she is laser-focused on bumping up the quality of each of the 17-country travel experiences she’ll be offering across the continent.
She has also added a new component to Away to Africa’s mission. The company will now service those who want to invest in Africa and move to the continent. This enterprising step comes at a time when many in the African diaspora are recognizing the ongoing prevalence of racial injustice, reviewing their places within the societies they now reside, and realizing the value of Africa as a viable frontier for deep connection and economic growth.
In this way, Away to Africa is more than just a destination management company. It’s a social service that is actively and creatively bridging the contrived gap between people of African diaspora and those still planted at home.
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