When Ruby Audi graduated from college in 2011 with a journalism degree, she knew she wanted to focus on Africa full-time as her subject.
Her mother was born and raised in Ghana, and Audi felt deeply connected to the nation too, despite growing up in London. This connection intensified when, as a child, Audi’s parents planned family vacations all across Africa.
“They were adventurous and wanted us to see other parts of the continent,” she recalls.
This experience came in handy when Audi started working for a magazine that was entirely Africa-focused, running country profiles and articles about lifestyle, dining, and business.
While traveling in Africa, she came across incredible events, galleries, and boutique hotels. “But unless you landed at these places yourself or you knew people on the ground, there was no way you’d know about them,” says Audi.
Here, Audi saw an opportunity to fuse a subject she was passionate about, Africa, with a way she could be of service to others.
“I got frustrated that dialogue about travel in Africa was focused on established tourist destinations, like Cape Town, Morocco, or safari excursions,” says Audi. “It’s a vast continent offering so many different experiences and so many cultures. My passion was to deliver that to people in a way that was visually appealing and would inspire people to visit.”
So she launched Hip Africa, an online guide on where to sleep, shop, eat, and enjoy cultural attractions across the African continent. And her work is catching on. The WeWork South Bank member frequently receives emails from brides-to-be asking for advice on honeymooning in Africa. For now, Audi relishes helping them plan their trips. Later this year, Hip Africa will offer readers the opportunity to both research and book their travel.
“It’s a lovely shop window that’s very pretty and very informative,” says Audi, “but we will soon be offering the opportunity for people to purchase their holidays through the site.”
Audi says that the most surprising thing about covering travel and culture in Africa is how fast the continent is developing.
“I could go to a city in January, and then come back six months later, and the city would already be transformed,” she explains. “It’s one of the few places in the world where there is economic growth at this scale. Suddenly, people are wearing designer clothes and eating sushi, when people weren’t aware of those things a year before. The pace and acceleration of development in Africa is really something to witness.”
Photos: Oscar May