Africa is a beautiful continent with plenty of untapped potential. It offers much to explore, enjoy and learn about.
For this and other reasons, the Jawe family decided to make the continent their playground. They have been on an exploratory trip around Sub-Saharan Africa in a 4×4 van.
Speaking to Getaway, award-winning YouTuber, wife and mother, Yolenda Jawe, shared what sparked the desire to embark on this roadtrip with her husband and their 5-year-old son.
‘Our decision was inspired by a number of things. My husband was actually working in Botswana for a few months since the end of March this year. With him working outside the country and seeing the world in a different light, we started discussing it more and exploring the idea of just travelling for the rest of the year’.
In September, the family packed up their house, placed most of their belongings in storage and began their journey. With eagerness, excitement and a whole lot of faith, they embraced the power of pause by letting go of their normal life to discover beauty in parts of our continent.
Although the experience has had its challenging parts for each member of the Jawe family, this has not made it a less worthy journey.
‘It’s honestly been scarier than what we imagined, especially the roads when driving. We didn’t expect to see as many accidents on the road, especially going to Zambia and Tanzania’ shared Jawe.
‘It has also made us appreciate home so much more’, she added.
The strengthening of family bonds & the kindness of strangers
Spending many hours on the road together, Jawe believes that this journey has strengthened the bonds in her family. They have also learnt to more consciously check in on each other, especially during overwhelming moments.
‘It’s been a lot for our family but it has helped us more than it has harmed us. It has really helped us deal with our emotions a lot better’.
While their trip has been a time of exercising kindness to one another, the family has received a lot of warmth and kindness from strangers too.
‘We got lost in Zambia. It was past sunset when we realized we can’t keep looking for the place. Locals were saying it doesn’t exist but the map said we had arrived. We turned around to a small community along the highway and strangers helped us with a place to sleep.
It is beautiful to find people who want nothing but to help you’.
Nomadic life with a 5-year-old
Travelling with their 5-year-old son, Fezile, Jawe and her husband have had to be extra patient, understanding and nurturing of their young one.
‘With a child, you really have to be patient and give them attention which is more heightened than what you would give them when you are home’.
Their conscious parenting on the road has included regularly checking in with him to see how he’s feeling. It has also been important to prepare him for moves ahead of time. Moreover, they have been intentional in validating his feelings and letting him know that it’s okay to feel homesick.
‘They say moving is traumatic on its own. We are doing a whole lot of that. It can be a lot for a child to take in,’ said Jawe.
When in Kenya, the couple also dedicated an entire day just to their son. They bought him toys and just watched him enjoy playtime with other children, allowing him to simply be.
Never the same…
When asked if this experience is something they would do again, Jawe gave a definite yes! She added, however, that they would most likely fly into places next time due to some of the challenges they experienced on the road.
Often, it is said that a mind which has been stretched can never return to its old dimension. Through this roadtrip with her family, Jawe has learnt a lot and now sees herself living a simpler yet more purposeful life going forward.
‘Life is never going to be the same again. I’ve questioned a lot of what I do and what I consume. I am no longer the same person.
In terms of my career, I think a lot is going to change. I’m seeing things so much more differently,’ shared the Youtuber.
Ultimately, one of the biggest lessons to come out of Jawe’s family roadtrip throughout Africa is the importance of travelling, and just how much the continent needs its people.
‘Africa needs us. Africa needs more Africans to travel this continent’.