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Lee Litumbe/Spirited Pursuit

Travel Enthusiast Lee Litumbe Lists Her Top 4 Favorite Cities In The World

Can you say "travel goals"?

Black Girl Wanderer

Lee Litumbe is used to being synonymous with the phrase "travel goals". One look at her feed and it's a visual anthology of serene blues, earthy greens, and vibrant whites, reds, and yellows. You're instantly transported where she is at that moment, whether it's the rust colored sands of the dunes in the Namib Desert or the aquamarine waters of Cape Town where she is currently based.

It's perhaps one of the many reasons Lee Litumbe has seen her life and her work flourish in the culmination of her brand and site Spirited Pursuit. "I make content for my younger self, in a way, where I wish I would've seen someone who looked like me doing these aspirational things in Africa, because then it would've given me validity."

The 29-year-old creative entrepreneur got her first bite from the travel bug from her parents. Although she spent a lot of her life in The States, she spent her childhood in Cameroon where her parents own a travel and managing company. But it wasn't until four years ago that she started to document her travels with Spirited Pursuit, a move that resulted from a quarter-life crisis. "I was dealing with a lot of things that left me with really dangerously low self-esteem and I figured I would just have this creative outlet, because at the time, I was working in finance as a business analyst. My life was completely different," she recalled.

"The love for travel came from being exposed to it all my life. The Spirited Pursuit itself was really a manifestation of how I started to love myself through a really tough time, and revisiting the things that I loved and made me feel good about myself, and made me feel like I had value. Spirited Pursuit genuinely is my spirited pursuit and love for travel."

Lee Litumbe sows gems and creates beautiful postcards for the places she decides to spread her wings and wander to. From Senegal to the South of France, read on to experience some of her most memorable destinations so far:

Dakar, Senegal

"I love Senegal in general just because it's just a country that feels so African. It's my dream for most African countries, in the sense where it's so modern but it retains its traditions. Like everyone that I've met there, for the most part, there isn't this strong sense of colonial mentality that tends to exist in some countries that were colonized. There is so much of a vibrance to the culture in the city and the art, it's modern. People who visit will probably be very surprised. Everyone speaks their traditional language. You see people walking around in their traditional clothes. Right now, I'm in South Africa. South Africa is very modern, and I almost feel like it's lost its electricity because you don't always feel like you are in Africa in a sense."

Zanzibar, Tanzania

"Zanzibar is one of the most beautiful places hands-down in the world. The very first time I went was maybe five or six years ago? My mum actually had a conference there [chuckle] and when she told me she was going, I was like, 'I need to find a way.' So, my mum lives in Cameroon, my parents still live in Cameroon, and I was living in Atlanta at the time and I was like, 'I don't care how I'm gonna make it happen, but I'm coming with you.' So, I ended up flying across the world [chuckle] to get to Zanzibar to only stay there for two or three days just because I was like, 'I need to come.' That was my first time being there and it was just so stunning and the beauty, of course, it's obvious. There's bleach white sand beaches with crystal clear blue water. And it's a stunning place from a landscape perspective, but then the culture is so rich."

Marrakesh, Morocco

"I think Morocco is stunning. I have a love/hate relationship with it because I experienced a lot of racism there. And so, on the one hand, I think it's such a beautiful country with a beautiful culture but unfortunately, I had some really unfortunate incidents while visiting which left a bad taste in my mouth, but it's still a very beautiful place and of course everyone isn't racist but there is definitely a strong undercurrent of racism there that I typically try to tell people about just to have a realistic perspective on."

Valensole, South of France

"I went on a road trip with my boyfriend through the south of France, earlier this year. And it was so stunning. We went to the lavender fields in Provence and we were at Côte d'Azur. It was just really stunning, and it was great cause he's French and German. So, he was showing me all these different places that he loves to go visit and we climbed, literally went hiking and climbed mountains. So that was a really beautiful as well."

Keep up with Lee and her Spirited Pursuit @spiritedpursuit.

Black Girl Wanderer is a series spotlighting the travels and explorations of black women journeying the world. Black women in all their magic and all their glory wander the earth, sprinkling the earth with their brown and their gold. If you're a Black Girl Wanderer, email us at submissions@xonecole.com for a chance to be featured. #blackgirlwanderer

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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