I was thinking of our trips for 2021 and wondering - go with me on this -- which of my favorite sitcom stars would sign up for a Jelani Women tour and just how she would act up when she could get her travel freedom back. For sure, Denise from the Cosby show is heading straight for Egypt with Olivia in tow, and Regine from Living Single would be lusting over the beaches of Cape Town. After binge watching so many childhood favorites during COVID, my 90s-2000s sitcom reservation line-up is the truth. Just go with me on this and let me know if your line up is the same or different from mine.
Morocco: Gina from Martin is out here trying to look high-siddity, while Pam is riding all the camels. You know they have us cracking up most of the trip, except when they try to buy up all the argan oil in Essaouira. Khadija from Living Single is trying to keep the peace, while Aunt Rachel from Family Matters is stashing spices in her purse. They are already scheduled to meet up for annual trips to Chicago to recreate the recipes and relive the Jelani vibe.
Ghana, Benin, & Togo: Moesha is the youngest Jelani Woman on this tour, but she’s taking note of all the hair braiding styles in Benin that she’ll be bringing back to Crenshaw High.
We also have Tichina Arnold back, but this time as Rochelle from Everybody Hates Chris. She is so happy to be away from her kids that she’s about to apply for citizenship in Ghana. She’s bonding with dark skinned Aunt Viv, from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, about how kids these days don’t know their roots. They asked me if they could come back with Tonya and Ashley next year, so I linked them up with Jelani Girls.
Kenya and Zanzibar: Francesca from the Jaime Foxx show is taking all the fancy photos on Zanzibar, and Hilary Banks from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is out here staging every single one. If looking snatched on a beach were an entry in the encyclopedia, you’d see a photo of Ms. Toni Childs from Girlfriends on the Indian Ocean in couture. They are about to make #KaribuSana go viral with their melanin travel gang pics.
Egypt: Like I said, Denise is making this motherland journey and she is acting like she didn’t hear me when I specifically told her that these trips are for adults. She isn’t letting little Olivia miss this one, so we are signing all the waivers at every stop and Olivia is teaching all the kids in the Nubian village to say “Black is beautiful.” We lucked up and got the twin-spirited bohemians of Lynn from Girlfriends and Freddie Brooks from A Different World to book and to board the flight on time; you know they almost missed it. They are pretty much the same person, so they both had us a little embarrassed by loudly chanting Buddhist blessings and saging themselves in front of the Sphinx.
Senegal & The Gambia: We are proud to see Vanessa and Sandra from the Cosby Show sister bonding in the motherland. They had a nice long talk on the shore of Lago Rosa, and they rejoined the bigger group kee keeing like never before. Lena from A Different World is trying all the food. She seems so tiny, but she never misses a meal and her plate is licked clean. She is definitely paying for her overweight bag full of palm oil and spices for an African flare to her famous gumbo. This group has an adopted mother in Eleanor from Roc, who was wiping everybody’s tears after a trip to Gorée island. She came mainly to see the IFAN Arts Museum and the Cathedral in Dakar, but she was blown away by the architecture of the Mosque of the Divinity. She pulled me aside to say that the trip was a nice break from the troubles of Baltimore. This trip is good for the soul.
South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe: This trip draws a mixed bag, so I’ve grown accustomed to being surprised by who shows up every year. Whitley Gilbert-Wayne definitely came through giving us glam, but she successfully turned down the diva vibe when we hit Zim. The shockers this year were some newbies. Maxine from the Carmichael show booked months in advance, but Molly from Insecure and Nina from Awkward Black Girl booked on the same day, two weeks before take off. Admittedly, the first few days were definitely awkward. But, that sunrise in Victoria Falls put it all in perspective for these big egos and now they’re sharing emojis and pictures on WhatsApp like they’ve known each other for a lifetime.
Don’t get me started on all the Raven Symoné, Loretta Devine, and Jackée Harry characters.
That will keep me busy until outside opens again!
Which character are you? And where are you and your castmates off to this year?
Ashley N. Company
“Fly” Girl spreading #BlackGirlMagic across 100 countries and counting. Headwrap lover. Fierce Protector of Black Lives.