By Nontobeko Mlambo
Jessica Nabongo is officially the first black woman to have visited every single country in the world, writes Africanews. Nabongo was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan in the U.S. to Ugandan immigrants.
Nabongo has been traveling with her parents from the age of 4, and by the time she graduated high school she had visited eight countries and territories. In 2008, she packed her bags and moved to Osaka, Japan a country she had never visited for a teaching job. In 2017, she decided to attempt to travel every country. At the time she had only traveled to 60 countries.
“I began my journey to every country in the world because I am a geography nerd, curious about other cultures, and want to show the world through a lens that we rarely view it
from – that of a black woman”, she says.
Through the financial help of brands, tour companies and some generous people Nabongo was able to achieve her goal of visiting every country.
The Ugandan-American who used both her passports to travel the world did not shy away from highlighting some of the difficulties she has had entering or leaving some of the countries because of the colour of her skin.
“I have had my fair share of issues with immigration, but once I’m actually inside of the countries most people are welcoming and excited to have you in their country. Yes, sometimes there’s staring and excessive picture taking but 9 times out of 10 you will be met with open arms”, she says in one of her social media posts.
Sal Lavallo, a friend of Nabongo’s and one of the people who have visited every country in the world congratulated her in a social media post.
“In my 13+ year journey to each country I experienced the highs and lows of travel, but as a privileged white man I was able to go through the world always feeling welcomed and safe. Jessica’s journey, as one of the ~20 women and 3 or less black travelers, highlighted how travel (extreme or otherwise) should not be limited to only a small portion of the society. At the same time, she did not shy away from exposing inequalities and unequal treatment given to many”, Lavallo says.
She landed in Seychelles on Sunday, 06 October, which was country number 195, the last country on her journey. She was accompanied by 54 friends and family members who celebrated with her in the East Africa islands.
Nabongo was named as one of OkayAfrica’s 100 Women of 2019, a list of impressive and impactful women from the continent and across the diaspora.