The fourth episode of the Wonders of Africa Zoom Conference took place on November 20, 2020 and it was breathtaking experience as the panelists highlighted a range of interesting attractions from Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, as well as Tanzania, Nigeria and Sao Tome & Principe.
Winner of Africa 100 Women in Tourism, Charity Githinji of Tandaza Africa, took the audience on a fantastic voyage through some of those amazing destinations in Magical Kenya.
Starting with the spectacular Rift Valley which cuts across several countries, she highlighted Hell’s Gate National Park which lies south of Lake Naivasha, north west of Nairobi. Featuring breathtaking scenery, the park offers great hiking opportunities as well as, game viewing and biking.
It is also a great location for weddings and concerts.
Other attractions within the Rift Valley include: Lake Naivasha which is home to a variety of wildlife including over 400 different species of birds and large hippo population.
It has amazing accommodation facilities such as Crater Lake Tented Camp, Egerton Castle, and the Great Rift Valley Lodge with its 18-hole golf course.
Also, of interest is the ingenious way the Kenyans have turned the misfortune of floods in Nakuru area to start a boat safari.
Moving on to the Mount Kenya region situated near the equator, Ms. Githinji noted that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a young princess staying in o e of the resorts when she recieved the news of father’s demise and her own ascension to the throne.
There are a varying range of accommodation available from cheap backpackers to boutique 7-star lodges. She also talked about the Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes, generating income through wildlife tourism.
Up on the Northern Circuits came a recent discovery of Chalbi Desert, a stunning small desert with red sand dunes near the border with Ethiopia, east of Lake Turkana. ‘Discovered’ during the COVID-19 period, Chalbi is developing as a desert safari destination.
To cap off her presentation, the Africa Top 100 winner chose the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania as her favourite destination outside her home country.
According to her, Serengeti is massive and is home to so much wildlife that you don’t have toil to find the animals. It is so much larger than the Masai Mara in Kenya which it shares border with. Also, the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive caldera with animals, lies within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, sharing the Serengeti ecosystems with the Serengeti National Park.
It was the turn of Eswatini team lead, Larry Mhlanga of Vayanami Travel after and he started off by revealing to the audience that the oldest mine in the world, Ngwenya Mine was located in the small kingdom often jocularly referred to as the fifth province of South Africa.
Ngwenya Mine is on the Bomvu Ridge, northwest of Mbabane, the capital city, near the northwestern border of Eswatini with South Africa. Believed to be as old as 4,000 years old, iron ore was the primary material mined from Ngwenya.
There are petroglyphs or rock carvings believed to have been made by bushmen in the area.
Umhlanga, the famous Reed Dance festival and perhaps the biggest attraction in Eswatini was next up on Mhlanga’s list.
The event which usually takes place in the last week of August into first week of September sees about 40,000 maidens go out to cut reeds, which they bring to the Ludzidzini Royal Village to repair the windbreak around the Queen-Mother’s residence.
The event lasts about a week, with the maidens or Imbali regiment arriving at Ludzidzini on Day 1, where they are despatched by the Indlovukazi (Queen-Mother) to go and cut the reeds. They return on the fifth day, and present the reeds to the Indlovukazi on the sixth day with dancing.
The dance spectacle continues on to the seventh day. The girls are all topless as they dance before the Mswati and other dignitaries and guests.
Larry Mhlanga’s next attraction was the Sibebe Resort, which lies adjacent to Sibebe Rock, the largest monolith in Africa and second largest in the world.
Also known as the Bald Rock, Sibebe is the largest exposed granite pluton in the world, rising 350m above the valley of Mbuluzi River. It is located 10km from Mbabane. The resort, according to Mhlanga is the first fully and proudly owned Swazi resort.
For his favourite attraction outside home country, Larry chose the city of Calabar in Cross River State, Nigeria.
Calabar is the host of Africa’s biggest street party, the famous Carnival Calabar and Larry Mhlanga has led the Swazi contingent to the event for the past four years. He stunned the audience with his knowledge of the city’s nightlife and nightclubs – better than many Nigerians who have been to the city didn’t even know about.
Team lead for Ghana, Ahmed Naaman took the show to another level with his unique presentation.
Appearing live by a 1935 Rolls-Royce classic which belonged to his grandfather, the CEO of Dodi Travel & Tours asked a moment of silence in memory of former Ghanaian leader, JJ Rawlings who died from COVID-19 complications recently.
Employing a different technique, Ahmed Naaman took recent personal visits to each of the locations in Ghana, where he recorded live sessions.
His first place was Bonwire, headquarters of Kente industry in the world, which has been around for up to 400 years. Ghanaian team lead tried his hands at kente weaving and got a gift from the local weavers.
Naaman took the audience to his second destination, Lake Bosumtwe, the only natural lake in Ghana and one of six meteoric lakes in the world. It has a diameter of 8 – 12km and is on the UNESCO biodiversity list.
Ahmed took time to explore the Grand Eco Cabanas Resort with an 18-hole golf course, swimming pool and other lively facilities. He also took a ride on the lake with his wife and daughter, piloting the boat himself, after taking over control from the skipper.
The Okomfo Anokye Sword Site was next for Ahmed Naaman.
According to him, a sword was planted by Okomfo Anokye, a high priest as a symbol of Ashanti unity in 1695. It is believed that if the sword was successful pulled out the Ashanti Kingdom would collapse. In 1964, the famous heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali visited Ghana and asked to attempt pulling out the sword, which he failed to do.
Even a bulldozer couldn’t remove the sword, according to legend.
The Ghanaian team lead then took the audience to the Prempeh II Jubilee Museum where the curator gave everyone a historical lesson, starting with Yaa Asantewaa, Ghana’s greatest female warrior who was exiled to Seychelles by the British.
The audience also learned about how the Ashantis cleverly deceived the British by giving them a replica of the Golden Stool instead of the real thing. Also fascinating was the use of drums by the Ashantis to frighten their enemies during wars.
For his favourite place outside Ghana, Ahmed Naaman highlighted the twin island nation of Sao Tome and Principe.
The show had kicked off with a sad commentary regarding the shooting of protesters by police in Uganda earlier in the week, a mirror of the situation which occurred in Nigeria with the Lekki Toll-gate shooting of #EndSARS protesters, exactly a month ago.
The next episode is expected to feature team leads from Brazil, Gambia, Uganda and Zambia.