Jay Simpson, a former Champaign Central High School and Purdue basketball standout, writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at

Visiting Africa at least one time is at the top of my bucket list.

It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to see my homeland. I’ve heard so many stories of how breathtaking and beautiful it is, so I can’t wait to see for myself. Pictures can only show so much; I want to be present physically.

The media likes to show us the struggling parts of Africa, particularly the slums of West Africa. Circumstances are really bad there with severe malaria and other deadly diseases. Tons of children are left to fend for themselves because their parents are either deceased or very ill, leaving them to do whatever they have to do in order to survive. This is the harsh reality for some but not all.

There are a lot of breathtaking places in Africa that don’t get as much attention. Some of the most beautiful architectural designs in the world can be found there. In some places, they are light years ahead of us when it comes to architecture and electronics — and that fascinates me. A friend took a trip there and stayed at an underwater hotel that was by far one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The pictures and videos he captured were so beautiful that it looked fake.

I’m going to try my hardest to make this trip happen by the time I turn 30 years old. That’s not too far away, so I have a lot of work to do in the mean time.

If you have ever traveled to Africa or know someone who has traveled there who has information I may need, please reach out to me. It’ll be my first time going there and I’d like to know all of the ins and outs.

Thank you, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Jay Simpson writes for The News-Gazette. His column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be reached at

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