FASHION ON THE STREETS OF KINSHASA: The Sapeurs of the DRC(Voice-Online)
Paul Sinclair, director of The Global African Investment Summit (TGAIS), on letting his hair down in the Seychelles and why Nigerian supermodel Betty Adewole would be his dream dinner guest.
What’s your earliest memory of Africa?
My earliest memory is the Watamu coastline and a guy who called himself “Mr Cool” showing us around the town and taking us fishing. Kenya is a fantastic country with some of the warmest people I have met.
Which African country do you consider home?
That’s tricky. My father is from Kumasi [Ghana] and my mother is from London. Being mixed race is great as it means you can dip in and out of every aspect of your heritage. I love London, but I always feel at home eating fufu and soup in Accra.
What’s the last trip you made?
I was in Kigali [Rwanda] last week. What a shin- ing light on the continent! Anyone visiting Kigali will quickly realise Rwanda is a country on the move. What the country has achieved in a short period is astounding.
What’s the best meal you ever had?
We went out on a boat once in the Seychelles and had a fresh fish BBQ on the beach – it was amazing. Really simple, but amazing.
Where would you go to let your hair down?
Seychelles. That’s it! Paradise on earth. Cool culture, nice food, award-winning beaches and pure peace.The best nightlife I have experienced has been in Johannesburg.
Which cities surprised you the most?
Lagos [Nigeria] or Kinshasa [Democratic Republic of Congo]. Before I went to Lagos, all I ever heard were the usual stories of ‘wahala’ [trouble in Yoruba]. Lagos has some of the friendliest people who can’t do enough to help you. They have a good outlook and attitude toward business and life and a strong culture. It was the same with Kinshasa. All you hear in the press about the DRC is doom and gloom, war and corruption. But I arrived in Kinshasa to find an amazing city. It has a buzz about it.
What place is on your bucket list?
I’ve been to Cape Town a few times but anyone who hasn’t been needs to get to Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and experience the best scenery, wine, restaurants, bars and history on the continent.
What’s your most vivid memory?
Getting malaria in Zambia! I loved Zambia and the South Luangwa Valley is breathtaking, but one bad boy mosquito bit me and I had three days of living hell. I can’t remember the name of the Egyptian doctor who came and gave me meds in my hotel room but I love you, man. I never said thanks.
If you could change one thing about Africa what would it be?
The negative and incorrect perception the world has of it. Most of my work is driven toward changing the way people view the continent. Africa has an amazing spirit; it’s fun, driven and, in my mind, home to the most resourceful and culturally rich people on the planet. It’s time the world saw Africa for its positives!
What has been your favourite discovery?
Afrikiko Hotel in Akosombo, Ghana. Well, it isn’t even a secret anymore but back in the day it was. One of my best memories was going with a bunch of friends to watch Ghana beat Czech Republic in 2006. Ghana won and we were drinking long into the night…
Favourite building or place of interest?
Robben Island. It is a bit predictable but you just can’t deny what Madiba [Nelson Mandela] did for the continent and how he taught forgiveness; a lesson the world needs to learn.
Your African anthem?
I’m so busy I’ve not been able to listen to much music lately. The lyrics written by His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie for his speech in 1963 in New York always drives me. The way Bob Marley reproduced it is amazing.
The worst perception about Africa is…
Corruption and laziness. I cannot stand prejudice. Every race has the good, the bad and the ugly. But, for some reason, the world just sees Africa as lazy and corrupt. It’s not true and I’m hoping my work will change that perception.
What would surprise people about the Africa you know?
How safe it is. I always hear people who haven’t been so lucky to travel asking me if I leave my hotel in Africa. Of course, people! I have never had any problem in Africa – far less than London anyway.
Favourite African proverb if you have one?
“A clean conscience makes a soft pillow.”
Share with us your top three travel tips…
Go to a place with no preconceptions, embrace everything you see without judging and don’t push your views on local culture.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Bob Marley, for lots of reasons. The guy was an amazing talent, he was the first to do what he did and, lastly, his lyrics give an amazing outlook to people looking to push on and achieve something in their life. I am sure I can also find a reason to sneak Nigerian model Betty Adewole into the party. God bless Africa!
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