Paralympic athlete and Journalist Ade Adepitan's new four-part travel series on BBC is shifting how the continent of Africa is illustrated and shows why it's so important to have inclusive travel shows on television. Unfortunately, a lot of media in the UK surrounding Africa feels patronising, bleak, and at times homogenising. The rare positive portrayals of Africa and its beauty and vastness only seem to occur in wildlife and nature documentaries, which are rid of any local people and usually presented by a white Brit with no connection to the land. Africa with Ade Adepitan is the inclusive travel docu-series changing all that.
Over the series, Adepitan works his way through the continent, starting off in West Africa in Episode 1, and exploring the nature, politics, history, geography, and technology of the countries he visits. In doing so he shows the glaring differences of each country and what makes them so special.
From problematic Band Aid lyrics like, "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime, the greatest gift they'll get this year is life," to charity advertisements featuring hungry, pained children, it's glaringly obvious the West has a one-track, warped view of this continent. But Adepitan is showing another side to Africa, one that is enlightening, educational, and hopeful.
Having a British West African person hosting a series about Africa is so invigorating and clearly makes a world of difference. He doesn't come across as patronising nor is there an ounce of pity, and I believe this stems from being Nigerian-born himself. Describing Africa as the "most epic and most dynamic place on earth", Adepitan is really shaking the up the world of travel entertainment with his raring sense of adventure and excitement for all the countries he visits.
His approach to travel is honest, multidimensional, and he really digs deep into each location he visits. Instead of simply concentrating on Africa being one of the poorest continents with no resolution, Adepitan analyses why that is the case, the West's involvement and the ways in which the continent is making moves to grow their economy. This is rarely seen in other travel docu-series'.
And not only is a black presenter exploring the continent of Africa a rare and pleasant sight, but having a person who uses a wheelchair hosting a travel show also illustrates that adventure and exploration can be for everyone. Already in Episode 1, Adepitan has gone hang gliding over the mountainous landscape of Cape Verde, salt-mining in the lake's of Senegal, and effortlessly navigates his chair over volcanic ground.
Diversity within travel shows still has a way to go and rarely do people of colour host them, let alone travel in the continents and countries they themselves are from — but that's slowly changing. Nadiya's Asian Odyssey hosted by Bake Off contestant turned Britain's sweetheart, Nadiya Hussain, and comedian Romesh Ranganathan's Asian Provocateur, are both proof that inclusion in travel shows is really needed for representation.
Africa with Ade Adepitan is a much needed breath of fresh air in an often stale industry. Already, in the first episode I feel like I've learned more about the continent than I have ever before. I for one, desperately need to see more black people hosting travel shows in a way that's nuanced, fun, and informative. More than anything, it proves travelling is for me too.