Nanjala Nyabola on Travelling While Black : Rough Translation What happens when your guidebook isn't written with you in mind? Nanjala Nyabola on her new book: Travelling While Black.
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Rewriting The Travel Guidebook With Nanjala Nyabola

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Rewriting The Travel Guidebook With Nanjala Nyabola

Rewriting The Travel Guidebook With Nanjala Nyabola

Rewriting The Travel Guidebook With Nanjala Nyabola

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/971101662/971220083" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Nanjala Nyabola is an academic, traveler, and collector of guidebooks, some of which are pictured here. Nanjala Nyabola hide caption

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Nanjala Nyabola

Nanjala Nyabola is an academic, traveler, and collector of guidebooks, some of which are pictured here.

Nanjala Nyabola

Remember Lonely Planet? Rough Guides? The glossy photos? The breezy descriptions of faraway places?

Long before the pandemic lockdown, those classic guidebooks were go-to reading for many people going on a big trip. Nanjala Nyabola is one of them. She's a writer and a consummate traveler from Kenya who collects these guides, but discovered early on that the information that lay between their covers was not written with travelers like her in mind.

Touring Africa through the lens of these guidebooks almost discouraged her from traveling altogether.

Now, 70+ countries later, Nanjala sets down her backpack and speaks with Gregory Warner about her new book, Travelling While Black: Essays Inspired by a Life on the Move. She breaks down what traveling has taught her about her own identity, and the unexpected joy of discovering new places on your own terms.

Additional Reading:

  • When Rain Clouds Gather & Maru by Bessie Head. Nanjala considers Head one of the greatest literary voices of all time. The South African born writer's experience living stateless influenced her writing, but Nanjala believes her challenges with home, citizenship, identity and belonging ultimately killed her.
  • NPR's reporting on the viral videos that sparked the #MyDressMyChoice campaign in Kenya in 2014.

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