This month Bonita On Safari is happy to feature Bien-Aime Baraza of Sauti Sol; one of leading Afro pop bands in Africa. The group recently concluded their nationwide tour to promote their third album: Live and die in Afrika, which was a huge success. I had a one on one with him and pleasantly learnt that despite his undying love for music he is also an ardent traveler.
Below is our conversation about his travel escapades.
Q. Who is Bien-Aime Baraza?
A. A musician who just wants to be loved, see the world and be understood.
Q. How old were you when you first traveled alone?
A. I was 22.
Q.Which was the first country you traveled to outside Kenya and how old were you then?
A. Ethiopia. I was 20.
Q.What is it about travelling that you like most?
A.Meeting different people, learning more about other cultures, food and women.
Q. How many countries have you visited so far?
A.I lost count. I’m on my third passport.
Q. Apart from music related travels do you take your time off and travel by yourself?
A. Rarely. Music makes me travel so much i end up just wanting to chill when I have free time.
Q. What was the last city you traveled to and when?
A. Jo’burg, a month ago.
Q.How does Kenya compare to the other countries you have been to in relation to travel and tourism?
I feel like Kenya has a lot to offer but we have a major branding issue. Kenya has the best of everything. We have wildlife, beaches, scenery, the Maasai (a symbol global of African heritage). Also Kenya is damn expensive as compared to other countries.
Q.Seeing as you have traveled widely, what would you suggest in regards to ways we can increase Kenya’s visibility as a tourism and business hub to the rest of the world?
A. Better PR strategies must be implemented by government. Brand Kenya must market Kenya properly globally. I recently attended the world expo in Milan and the Kenyan stand left a lot to be desired.
Corruption needs to stop and proper budgeting and accountability must be done for the sector. We should invest in infrastructure and human resource for the betterment of the sector.Finally, the Government must assure security to our visitors. Kenya’s tourism industry has been hit hard by terrorism.
Q. What is the one thing you can never go one a trip without?
Q.What would you say has been the biggest culture shock during your travels?
A. Watching the gay pride parade in Amsterdam. I was not ready
Q. What don’t you like most about frequent travel?
A.I hate sitting down for long. It cramps my back.
Q. Have you ever lost anything important during one of your trips?
A.All the time. I left my phone in a hotel room in Lagos, then I left my watch in america, my speakers! I just keep losing stuff.
Q. What has been your favorite travel experience so far?
A. I cant really tell. Every destination has its own magic.
Q.How do you deal with language barriers?
A.I just learn the core words; Hello? How much? What’s your name? Can I have your number? Are you single?…
Q. Do you ever find time to be a tourist during your official trips?
A.Yes and No. Sometimes it gets a bit hectic. But usually I do get time to go out and sample the different cultures.
Q. Do you have any tips and tricks you would like to share with other travelers?
A. Yes. Just because a woman is not wearing a ring it does not mean she is single.
Q. What is your favorite travel destination and why?
A. Diani for the amazing beaches and Durban for the strong mix of modern architecture and beach life.
Q. Where would you say is your dream destination and why?
A. South America. It has a perfect cocktail of beach, music and beautiful people.
Q. Apart from Kenya… (hahaha) which other country would you say has beautiful women…
Well, there you go! Now you know Bien-Aime the traveler.