Check out My Top 5 Francophone Countries for the Holidays!

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It’s almost time for the Christmas Holidays. So, dollars is hard to come by, Nigeria is “in recession”. Not sure, if you can afford traveling to USA/UK/Canada etc. for the holidays?

Relax, you are covered. A beautiful fact is that you don’t need a visa to visit any of these countries. For those residing in Nigeria, you have no need for visa, just ensure that your yellow card is up to date and your passport is valid. For residents outside Nigeria, please check the embassy websites of these countries.

You can choose to drive or fly to your choice country. Personally, I would recommend driving to Togo & Benin especially if you are coming from Nigeria. Just enjoy the road trip. Downside – You will be pleasantly tired.

It’s also an opportunity for newbie french speakers to practice the french language and be immersed in the french culture at first hand. Don’t worry, If you are a Nigerian, you are very resilient to culture shock.

So why these 5?

These countries have different effects on me. Let’s go down memory lane.

  1. Togo – This country has a sleepy feel. Each time I arrive, it’s like I did some kinda time travel or rather left the bustle of Lagos to one of the quieter states like Edo State. I always lodge in any of the hotels close to the beach. I love the feel of sand under bare feet and picking shells (surprisingly clean).
  2. Cote d’Ivoire – The ambience is french! You feel the immersion. It’s total. The street smells… the hustle and bustle. Have you been to their market? Just make sure you have enough CFA with you so that you can buy authentic wrappers to your heart’s content.
  3. Benin- This country reminds me of Nigeria! Yes, it does. Benin Republic is next door neighbor with Nigeria. You can practically stroll through the borders and voila! you are in. I once had that sensation of one foot on Nigerian soil and the other foot on Benin Republic soil. You hear people speaking yoruba, pidgin english, egun, french, and sometimes ibo language. The border is so busy especially as the port is nearby. Moving inwards to the capital, greenery greets me on both sides of the road and road officials that mildly remind me of the LASTMA (Lagos Road Officials)
  4. Cameroon – I almost swoon (ok, I’m exaggerating) but seriously, I love love Cameroon. That blend of English & French speaking citizens. Have you eaten their fish? or sharwama? You are missing out! Cameroon shares river boundary with Cross River in Nigeria,(see, we are practically sisters) People everywhere! I took a bus ride from Douala to Yaounde and I was reminded of the long yellow buses that ply Lagos roads. (it’s official, I reside in Lagos, Nigeria, and you my friends can tell). It was a sweaty ride because the AC’s non functional and I was stashed between 2 market women (you can laugh, I have gotten over it).
  5. Guinea Conakry – Dusty quiet country. Why this town? I have spent over 3months at a stretch here. (I did stay during the Ebola outbreak). It gives off the ‘forgotten’ feel till you come to the capital and you are confronted by the small size of the roads and streets. I laugh at what they call traffic. They haven’t witnessed traffic in Lagos. a couple of my Guinean friends refer to Lagos as ‘Petit London’. Yea, they can’t get over the 3rd Mainland Bridge. Guinea Conakry is a country that makes you forget all your office issues, Lagos hassle. Their currency (GNF) is so low that with $1,000 you can live the life of an Emperor.

One of the main attraction to these countries is the food. I can’t get over the cheapness of food. For those that want to maintain their weight, they can always do that. These french countries have a huge appetite for all things salads/chicken/fish. And can they eat? Gosh! A 3-course meal for lunch and you can’t understand how they are able to still have space for dinner.

As for the chilling life, their towns come to life at night. So for the party folks and wine connoisseurs, you will enjoy this to the fullest.

For those with the eye of an entrepreneur, just have enough of money with you and a native guide, you will get very good prices for excellent fabrics, bags, shoes, whatever catches your business eye.

*Sorry, I don’t have pictures because my laptop crashed and I had no backup. Lesson learnt.

Ping back to Greetings!  and The Francophone Christmas    for a bit of more background information.

 

 

The Francophone Christmas

The Francophone Christmas

It’s that time of the year when the streets begin to turn white with the snow in some parts of the world, and those in the West African continent begin to experience the Harmattan (a dry and dusty West African trade wind).

It is also special because it is a time in Africa deemed as special; a time of giving, a time of buying that special wear you have been eyeing al year, a time of eating some special meals reserved for special occasion, a time when kids are at liberty to demand for Christmas gifts from relatives, God help you, if you are broke during this period!

But how do the francophone spend their Christmas? What do they do? What are their expectations? Is it any different from the Anglophone, precisely, the English speaking? Let’s take a look at our francophone neighbors.

Do you know that Nigeria is surrounded by French speaking countries. Back to the question, how do they spend their Christmas?

In Cameroun, it is characterized by church services and worship, you also get to do what is known as “fait le tour” this means that you visit all your friends in their houses and you must eat and drink at each place.

In Congo, there is usually an annual Christmas pageant prepared by some groups. by a group of carolers beginning to converge on the house of worship. They return home to make final preparation of the clothes to be worn and offering for the Christmas service. People also have Christmas dinners after the service, preparing tables out in front of their home and inviting many of their close friends and relatives to join them in the feasting.

Even in some of Africa’s predominantly Muslim countries, Christmas is still marked for celebration. For example, in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, hawkers are happy to sell plastic trees and inflatable Santa.

 

In pre-dominant Muslim countries like Mali and Burkina Faso, there is a blending of the African religious practices with the Christian faith and they have created unique ways in keeping with the Christmas tradition. 

 

In Côte d’Ivoire and Benin, like in Ghana, Christmas celebrations mostly focus on the religious aspects of the holiday.  The commercialization is often absent.

Over 40% of the people in Togo are Christians.  French Christmas traditions are common.  Unlike other West African countries, Santa Claus and Christmas trees have become part of tradition.  Only the Christmas dish remains Togolese

Have I left some countries out? Fill me in @ comments ville!

 

Meilleurs vœux !
   Season’s greetings! Happy holidays …

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