Only 12 minutes from Brisbane in urban Moorooka one finds an East African testament to the value of second chances. There lies as arcade between a Vietnamese Bakery and a Commonwealth Bank. The aroma of exotic spices envelopes the passerby while brilliantly coloured women’s head dresses enchant the eye. A variety of languages mingle including Arabic, Amharic and Tigrinya with occasional English words interspersed. Sudanese, Eritrean, Ethiopian and Somalian refugees have claimed this thin area and made it their own “African Town.”
About 400 African refugees recently arrived have remade their African home in this suburb. The women wear head scarves of bright, patterned coulours and floor-length dresses that sway as they walk through the market carrying shopping bags heavy with fresh produce and meats. Here they feel “almost home again.” Many local shop owners hire only other Africans who have fled to Australia as political refugees.
Those who have been here some years would like to visit relatives and friends back home. The favorite choice for revisiting Africa is to cruise along the coast. This would allow visiting areas in countries from which their Brisbane friends have come. Such a mode of travel would also let them return with a wider view of their home continent and the varied countries it contains.
Cruises along the East African coast stop in Mombassa and Zanzibar. Itineraries from the Indian Ocean cruise to Madagascar and The Seychelles. This small archipelago includes the main island of Mahe from which luxury motor yachts, deep sea fishing cruisers, and catamarans may be chartered to go to the other islands. They head to Southern Africa stopping in Namibian and South African ports. The stops include African bazaars, sights in Egypt, Libyan’s Roman ruins, and imperial cities such as Marrakech. Safaris and treks to Mount Kilimanjaro provide off-shore excursions.
The islands off the East African coast offer many cruising adventures. Most Africans will tell you to travel this area between May and November, when the weather is mile and tropical storms are less likely.
Freighters carry passengers, often in luxurious cabins, without the crowds on ordinary cruise ships. They often schedule stop-offs on Mauritius and Madagascar, Africa’s nearby islands. The only remaining Royal Mail Ship takes passengers and sails a regular route to St. Helena, stopping in Namibia and South Africa.
A cruise to any of these sections of Africa would be enjoyable for those who came from the areas or Australians who have come to enjoy the colourful lives, food and culture of their expatriates.
NOTE: My friends at “African Town” said that the best cruise deals are with the company Cruise About.