Roaring Dunes

The dry lands of Namibia were inhabited since early times by Bushmen and since the 14th century by immigrating Bantu. A German Imperial protectorate in 1884, it remained a German colony until the end of World War I. In 1920, the League of Nations mandated Namibia to South Africa, which imposed its laws and apartheid policy. In 1966 uprisings and demands by African leaders led the UN to assume direct responsibility over the territory. South West Africa People’s Organization was recognized as the official representative of the Namibian people in 1973. Namibia, however, remained under South African administration. With the exception of Walvis Bay — a harbor town that remained under South African control until 1994 — Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa following the Namibian War of Independence in 1990. (more…)


Motorbike taxis buzz by.

A few degrees north of the Equator, we have sailed under modern power for 6000 miles. The Atlantic is smooth with rolling deep-blue 2-3′ swells, clear skies with clouds on the horizon. Temperatures are 85-92º with humidity 60-65%. However, the sun is blasting directly overhead and makes an oppressive heat – and this is the dry season.

Benin is the size of Louisiana with a population of about 9 million, mostly living on its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin. It is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture. The official language is French. Roman Catholicism flourishes alongside a strong faith in the power of Voodoo. (more…)


Togolese dancers

Togo is the size of the state of Georgia, tropical, sub-Saharan, with its 6.7 million people dependent upon agriculture. The official language is French. Most people (65%) observe indigenous religions (voodoo) with minorities of Christian and Muslim. This coastal region, known as “Slave Coast,” became a protectorate of Germany in 1884. Transferred to France after WW1, Togo gained its independence in 1960. The same family has led the government since 1967.

We were greeted in Lomé by dockworkers waving and shouting, “Welcome to Togo.”  I watch a performance of frantic drumming, dancing and acrobatics reminiscent of Hollywood films (think of the scene in King Kong when the captain and crew come upon the native dancers for the first time). (more…)


Elmina Castle 1481

Ghana, meaning “Warrior King,” is about 92000mi² (smaller than Oregon) with a population of about 24 million. Home to over 100 different ethnic groups, it has not seen the ethnic conflict that has created civil wars in many other African countries. The official language is English. The predominant religion is Christian, with 16% Muslim and 9% practicing traditional African beliefs (Animist/voodoo). (For those who may not know, the people of Ghana are not Gonorrheans.) (more…)

Côte d’Ivoire

The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire is commonly known as Ivory Coast with a population estimated to be +20.6 million. In October 1985, the government requested the country be known as Côte d’Ivoire. In 1843, a treaty made Côte d’Ivoire a “protectorate” of France and in 1893, a French colony as part Read more…

The Gambia

Typical Gambian smile

We sail 93 nautical miles to Banjul The Gambia. The Republic of Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for a small coast on the Atlantic Ocean in the west. It’s named for the Gambia River but at independence, the country chose to be differentiated from the river and to be correctly called The Gambia. Its size is almost 4000mi² (the size of Connecticut) with an estimated population of 1,700,000. Banjul, the capital, is an island connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries. It is like entering another world, one that makes Senegal and previous ports havens of opportunity and wealth. (more…)

Dakar Senegal

Gorée Island

I celebrate traveling my 23rd time zone of the world as I cross the Atlantic abyss, home of strange and grotesque creatures from the giant squid to the coelacanth fish. The Atlantic hagfish lives at 4000′; it ties itself into a knot and passes the knot down its eel length in order to wipe slime off its body. On ship, life can be as alien. But that is a subject for a later blog.

The Republic of Senegal is in western Africa and owes its name to the river that borders to the East and North. Senegal almost completely surrounds Gambia and covers a land area of almost 76,000 mi², about the size of Nebraska. Its estimated population is about 14 million. The climate is tropical with two seasons: dry and rainy. In the Senegambia region, between 1300 and 1900, close to one-third of the population was enslaved. Various European powers—Portugal, the Netherlands, and Great Britain—competed for trade in the area bit in 1677, France ended up in possession of what had become a minor slave trade departure point—the island of Gorée, used as a base to purchase slaves from the warring chiefdoms. Senegal gained its independence from France in 1960. (more…)