Africa with Landon Jacob

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We love seeing the world through the lens of talented photographers, but what we love even more are the stories that go with the beautiful images. Landon and Jordan of Landon Jacob Photography recently traveled to Africa and are sharing their story with us today!

Where in Africa did you visit?

Lusaka, Zambia and Victoria Falls in Livingston, Zambia

Why did you decide to go to Africa? 

We went to Africa to help with an organization called Clothed In Hope. A friend of ours, Amy Bardi, created the organization a few years ago. Their mission statement explains what they do best: "Our goal is to provide hope to vulnerable women in Lusaka, Zambia through training in sewing and business, in an effort to alleviate poverty at the grassroots level. We believe hope means much more than financial assistance. By empowering women through life-skills training, we want to play a role in renewing their confidence, impacting their culture, and inspiring women across the globe."

What were your first impressions about the land, atmosphere and people? 

Zambia is a beautiful place, but a very different beauty than is seen here in the states. It was the dry season while we were there, so most of the land was golden brown. Rolling planes with the lone, classic African tree was a very common site as we drove through the country. Because the weather was extremely consistent during that time of year, there was never a cloud in the sky. Which made the sunsets absolutely stunning. They caught us by surprise every evening and we couldn't help but stop and take it in.

Zambia is known and prides itself in being a peaceful country. If we were to compare Zambia to other African countries, we'd say the lifestyle and attitudes would be similar to the "southern charm" of the South in the States, but with obvious African flare. The atmosphere is easy going, and no one goes by a watch. The Zambians we encountered are happy completing just a few ordinary task a day, as apposed to measuring their daily success by how crammed their schedule is. All in all, it was a breath of fresh air, albeit very dusty!

Surprisingly, by the end of our trip, our perception of Ng'ombe changed drastically. We realized that what initially seemed at "terrible conditions" were only terrible to us because we have a different definitions and expectations of life. We realized that living in Ng'ombe could actually be really fun. Everyone lived extremely close to each other, so their were crowds of kids everywhere playing all sorts of games. We were reminded that the major difference between a bad place to live and a good place to live is not the location, it's the community.

Share a few stories about your trip that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

 At Victoria Falls there are wild Baboons EVERYWHERE. It was like a scene from Jumanji. We weren't in the park 5 minutes before a baboon started chasing us around and was only scared off by a security guard and and his AK-47. It was 100% the scariest thing that has every happened to me (Jordan). They were frighteningly smart. We would watch them sneak up behind tourists, snatch their soda, and unscrew the top like any human. These huge Alfa Males would walk right up to you and grab food right out of your hand. You learned to just throw whatever you have on the ground before they challenged you for it. We asked the park ranger if the Baboons always behaved like this and he said, "No, they are being extra naughty today."

If you are visiting the compounds of Zambia, or the people who live out in the bush, just know that sometimes your "help" could actually cause harm. Americans tend to come to these places bringing clothes, food, and shoes. A lot of times they don't need these things at all, and at best it's a temporary fix. Kids choose not to wear shoes, not because they don't have them, but because they just don't like wearing shoes. We learned that in bringing these things, we can actually hurt their economy or their self-image. I think as Americans we typically go to countries like Africa with a savior complex. We think we can do such great things for these people, when in reality we can learn much more from them.

What would be your recommendation to people who are visiting Africa? Where should they go, what should they do and see? 

You have to go to Victoria Falls in Livingston! It is one of the natural wonders of the world and simply breathtaking! We recommend staying with the Jolly Boys in Livingston. They have tons of safari's you can book with them. Go play with lions or ride elephants (which is what we did)!