Fat, now the word fat itself is very triggering for a lot of people for various reasons. I’ve found that in the western world, the word ‘fat’ is often associated with laziness and ugliness. But growing up in Nigeria, I knew that it was just used as an adjective so when I travelled across Africa I knew my size would come up in topics as it was a way for people to identify me but never did I know that it would create various problems.
In this blog, I’ll be sharing some of the ways my fatness was a hindrance travelling in Africa.

  • I broke the camel’s back

Whenever you’re in a new country it’s normal that you want to do all the unique touristy things. I was the same and when in Morocco decided to go on a desert tour/ camel ride and when I got on a camel the camel tried to stand up, it buckled and fell back down. The guides changed my camel to one which was apparently the strongest one but even that camel grumbled all the way. Now I was at my heaviest at this time but I still feel sorry for that poor camel.

  • I was asked to pay extra

When travelling in Guinea something I quickly realised is that not only are the taxis shared but taxi drivers try to fit as many people in them as possible. A typical 5 seater car would carry around 7 or 8 people including the driver. Each journey is usually has a set price which all the locals know and it was something I picked up really quickly. What I didn’t expect was that some taxi drivers would tell me to pay extra due to my size as it meant the car couldn’t carry more people. This is something which I still don’t know how to feel about. One the one hand I understand why they did it, as I was taking up double the space of their usual customers but on the other hand, I thought a 5 seater car is supposed to seat 5 and I definitely don’t take up more than 1 seat, so why should I pay extra when they are disregarding basic car safety? Who do you think was right? 

P.S. I never paid extra.

  • People threw their children at me
I don’t know what it is about Africans and their view on fatness, maybe it dates back to historic times when being fat was associated with wealth and ones ability to live an expensive life. In Tanzania, I noticed I got a lot of attention from men, more than other African countries. Men saw me as a mother-figure and when trying to flirt with me they’d often ask questions like how many children did I want to have. I also had local people hand me their children and walk off!  I mean I’m glad they found me trustworthy but still, please don’t leave your children with strangers. This definitely didn’t happen in the big cities like Dar Es Saalam but happened quite often in Arusha and Moshi.
  • I became a strong woman

This story is something that happened to me in Gambia. Whilst in a shared taxi (they followed the 5 seater means 5 person rule), the taxi broke down. After the driver had a look at the engine he then tried to start the car again. After a few failed attempts he asked me to get out the car, confused and ready to fight I got out to face him as I thought he was going to blame the car breaking down on me. But instead, he told me to push the car whilst he tried to start the engine again. I pushed the car and after a short while, it started to work again. I still don’t know why he picked me but I guess maybe there they associate fatness with strength.

Overall, as a fat traveller, these have been my only ‘negative-ish’ experiences of the 35 countries I’ve been to. I was still treated like a human being, I still enjoyed myself in each country and would recommend anyone thinking their weight may be an issue to still go out there and see the world!
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