“Your ancestors are watching, You have an obligation to succeed!” King Happy V of Bana, Cameroon
Ada Anagho Brown, is the President of Roots to Glory Tours. Launched in 2012 The mission of Roots to Glory Tours is to create group tours, which facilitate the return of Africans in the Diaspora to the continent.
Ada, moved from Cameroon to the United States in 1975 where she has focused on promoting unity and understanding of the people, culture and traditions, while also encouraging conversation, insight and cultural exchange between Africans in the Diaspora and their counterparts.
Aside from running Roots to Glory Tours Ada has been apart of and led events such as the Cultural Village at the African American Festival and Panafest USA cultural festival. Ada, serves on the Board for Bunce Island Coalition USA and the Advisory Committee of the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African Art.
Making Africa a Destination for Us in Tourism and Business
What inspired you to start Roots to Glory Tours?
I started Roots to Glory Tours to bridge the gap between Africa and the African Diaspora. As a first generation African immigrant to the United States, I know the land of my ancestors. I wanted to help Africans in the Diaspora discover their homeland. I was inspired by many stories of individuals wanting to learn more about their Ancestry. For some, to say they are from Nigeria, Cameroon or Ghana is like coming full circle.
What are 4 major hurdles you have come across marketing Africa as a travel destination for African Americans?
- African Americans may not consider Africa as a tourist destination. The media has negatively portrayed Africa as a corruption prone continent with people who sold their ancestors into slavery.
- There seems to be a false perception that Africans do not want African Americans to visit the continent.
- Traveling to Africa can be up to 2 to 3 times more expensive than going to the Caribbean or on a cruise.
- The process which includes applying for a visa, getting the required vaccinations, and a passport can be intimating and time consuming
With the current trend of more Africans Americans traveling abroad, how do you think Black Entrepreneurs can take advantage of this growing niche market?
My recommendation is to Go to Africa!! See what is available, talk with local business people, spend quality time understanding the market and make a move. Africa has so many business opportunities in the sector of Tourism, Agriculture, Information Technology and Hospitality. Although there are a lot of business opportunities in Africa, there are very few African Americans who own businesses there. The environment is ready for change!!! Building a network is an important step in being an entrepreneur.
How you do think African, African American, and Caribbean entrepreneurs can better support each other globally?
Africans in the diaspora first need to travel to Africa, the Caribbean with an entrepreneurial mindset, establish connections in those countries in the sector which is of interest to them.
It is easy to say that you want to do business with a brother or sister in Africa or in the Caribbean from the comfort of your shores, it is quite another thing to be making connections on the ground.
How do you go about the curation process of your trip itinerary, which makes your company stand out?
Our itinerary is set based on answers to questions we ask our clients when they register for a tour. We custom build a travel experience based on that as well as the DNA results of our clients. No two experiences are alike.
We have a very close relationship with African Royalty in the countries we organize tours. Our trips always include a village visit so that our clients better understand the village structure and the culture and history of the people of the land.
We conduct African Naming Ceremonies on all our trips. In Africa the most important thing you can have is your name. That Birthright was taken away from most Africans during the Middle Passage. We want to restore the birthright of all who travel with us by providing an African Naming Ceremony.
What are 4 tips you would give those looking to start a travel agency?
- Travel to the countries you want to do business
- Develop relationships with locals in those countries
- Know who you want to market your business to
- Always have a plan “B”