Jessica Nabongo has lived on four different continents. The 33-year-old Detroit native, who is of Ugandan descent, has always been attracted to different countries and cultures. In late March, she announced she was on a mission to become the first black woman to travel to every country in the world.
Nabongo has visited 106 out of the 195 United Nations member countries, and she aims to complete her 89 remaining visits before she turns 35 on May 15, 2019.
READ THIS: A little over one year ago, while in Bali I decided to set a goal and accomplish something noteworthy. I love to travel (understatement of the century) and I have been traveling my whole life. I always knew I wanted to visit every country in the world, but now I’ve decided that I want to be the first black woman in the world to do so!! And the first Ugandan! I am giving myself the deadline of May 15, 2019, meaning I have 13.5 months to visit 90 countries. This is very difficult and expensive undertaking but I’m committed!! So please follow along with this crazy journey and tell others to join us as well! For more info on the journey, including my list of remaining countries visit my blog!! #catchmein195
“I want to show that black people travel. I’m representing America and also Uganda," Nabongo told Forbes.
She hopes to show "little black and brown girls around the world to know that they can travel.”
As she prepares for her travels, Nabongo will be putting her full-time job as the founder of travel agency Global Jet Black on pause. Though she will remain the head of the company, she will not be as heavily involved in the company's daily operations. In the meantime, Nabongo will raise an estimated $133,500, which she thinks will be necessary to finish her country visits in the allotted time. To do so, Nabongo started a GoFundMe, where people can show their support.
“People have already been like, 'how can we help, what can we do?’” Nabongo told the publication. “People want to see me win and that has been humbling.”
you. are your own standard of beauty. --- mirror work . . . . . just finished reading salt by @nayyirah.waheed. i've been sharing excerpts on my IG stories all week. definitely pick up a copy! this is now one of my favorite poets. she sits in good company with @keondra and sonia sanchez. #catchmeinsudan
One of the core components of her journey to make history is to prove Africans can travel and engage with other cultures.
"A lot of people don’t think of Africans as a consumer, they just think charity or baby," Nabongo said. "I want immigration to see, 'hey Ugandans are tourists [too].’”
Forbes reports a highlight of Nabongo's excursions was during her travels to Indonesia. An immigration official asked to take a picture with her because he found her to be strikingly beautiful.
"Those are amazing experiences. There is racism in the world, there just is. That is what history has left us with," said Nabongo. "But throughout my travels I am left with the fact that most people are good.”