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Soweto, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Jessica Nabongo

Uganda’s Jessica Nabongo Is the First Black Woman to Visit Every Country in the World

Jessica Nabongo is a true, record-setting globe trotter.

Cue the parade, it's finally happened. Jessica Nabongo has officially become the first black woman to have visited every single country in the world. The Ugandan-American touched down in Seychelles on Sunday—the last to be visited on the long list of 195 countries. Over 50 friends and family members traveled with her to the East African archipelago to mark the historic event.


Nabongo has been traveling since the age of 6. Though she was born in the US, her parents are Ugandan and she's used both passports to travel the world. What's most remarkable is the frequency with which she's done so. As Africa News reports, Nabongo made the decision to attempt the global feat in 2017. At the time she had only traveled to 60 countries–-meaning she's travelled to 135 countries in just 2-and-a-half years, an average of just under 7 days per country.

Nabongo was chosen as one of our 100 Women of 2019, a list of impressive and impactful women from the continent and across the diaspora. When we interviewed her for the list, she told us the motivation behind her traveling:

"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 also elaborated on her desire to alter the global narrative and perception surrounding of a lot of destinations–particularly in Africa–and highlight "that many countries are dangerous, that people are miserable, that you cannot have nice, luxury, vacations on the continent."

If Nabongo inspires you to get off your couch, grab your passport, pick a destination and just go–she's already made ways to help you out. Check out this article she penned for OkayAfrica about her tips for first-time solo travelers. Keep up with her journey and catch her if you can via her Instagram.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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