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Sisters' African good news trip

By Nikki Jecks
BBC World Service

FROM THE BBC WORLD SERVICE
Chioma and Oluchi Ogwuegbu

Two Nigerian sisters are hoping to reverse the trend of bad news out of Africa by touring the continent documenting its good news stories.

Chioma and Oluchi Ogwuegbu's journey across Africa started at the end of last year in West Africa.

By the end of this year they hope to have changed people's perception of a place still called by some the "Dark continent" through their website CelebrateAfrica.net.

It is an ambitious goal - common perceptions of Africa paint it as a continent littered with corrupt governments and plagued by civil war and natural disaster.

The sisters freely admit that they did have some concerns about their mission at the beginning.

"From what I've heard Africa is so dangerous. People told me that I would be raped, killed," Chioma Ogwuegbu confessed.

But, as her continued presence attests, none of that has happened.

In fact, Chioma and Oluchi report that their experience has been just the opposite.

Many of these people don't know about the positive things, all they see is the negative
Chioma Ogwuegbu

"So many times what the media projects about Africa is negative, there isn't that much positive news, positive stories about what is going on," Oluchi Ogwuegbu says.

"When [people] hear what we are doing, they embrace it. Total strangers who don't know us just want to help out."

Chioma and Oluchi are nothing if not ambitious. They plan to visit 22 countries in all.

Hidden jewels

Their journey so far has seen them visit Ghana, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Cameroun, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

And what they have discovered is a land of friendly people, beautiful landscapes, unusual dishes, and unexpected hospitality and kindness.

For example in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, they discover the beautiful Cascades de Karfiguela waterfalls and breath-taking rock formations in the Domes de Fabedougou which geologists say date back 1.8m years.

In Ghana, the sisters have visited Breman Bedum a sleepy village three hours from the capital Accra.

Children in Sierra Leone
The sisters hope to give young Africans a sense of hope for their continent

There they were given a tour around an essential oils farm which is providing a reliable income and a better way of life to local villagers as well as ensuring the area's threatened woodlands are reforested.

"Many of these people don't know about the positive things, all they see is the negative," says Chioma.

"But there are so many things here that we can be doing as Africans to better this continent."

Even turmoil ridden Guinea-Bissau gets a positive spin: "The good thing about Guinea-Bissau was that you could see that the people were happy, they were forging ahead, despite the hardship and suffering around them they were still moving along," says Oluchi.

Although the pair do admit it was one of the most challenging countries they have visited so far.

The audience for their webtour is not just foreign readers, but also young Africans, who the sisters believe need to be encouraged to see their countries as places of hope and potential, not just as a place of hardship and poverty.

"Many young Africans, they all want to leave Africa. I'm not saying that Africa is perfect," Chioma says.

"But our aim is to first tell Africans about what is here, what we have here."



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