South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems, offers tourists with Inland safari destinations, refreshing beaches, plush winelands, water parks among other interesting historic landmarks.
It was a welcoming news for me to be part of the 2019 South Africa Specialist Course graduates, made up of Ghanaian and Nigerian destination marketers and journalists who were to be hosted by the country, through the initiative of South African Tourism (SAT).
As scheduled, I left Kotoka International Airport in Ghana’s capital, Accra, on January 18, 2020 for Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng Province for an 8-day visit.
At OR Thambo Airport, the Ghanaian contingent was welcomed by a staff of Mozee Tours and Transport, who accompanied us to spend the night at City Lodge Hotel in Johannesburg, to wait for the Nigerian counterpart who would arrive the next day, January 19.
It was an amazing moment the next day, when our brothers and sisters from Nigeria joined us.
We then set off on a three hour journey from Johannesburg, which is the Guateng Province to the Limpopo Province, bordering Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Limpopo is known for its bushveld , wildlife reserves, and beautiful landscape, including part of Kruger National Park.
At Limpopo, we lodged in Zebula Golf Estate and Spa, where we spent three days and engaged in activities like treasure hunt, game drive, volleyball contest, (which Ghana won), spa session, and hot air balloon experience.
The hot air balloon experience was my first time, I had to be “floating” in the air in a hot air balloon, which came with mix feeling, but in all, it was worth the test.
I had earlier told myself I would never try this, but after the experience, I would recommend to any one on a revelling mission.
We then moved to Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal Province after three days, where we lodged in Sun Coast Hotel.
In KwaZulu-Natal, our mission was to visit Shakavillage or Shakaland, to abreast
ourselves of the Zulu Culture, experience water park moments, tour of the city and witness night life in Durban, among others.
Early morning the next day, we headed towards Shakaland, situated just 160Km north of the city of Durban, to experience the Zulu Culture, featuring authentic African decor laced with wooden interiors, thatched roofs and amazing scenic views.
At Shaka Village, we visited the setting exclusively built in 1984, for the Shaka Zulu movie, One of the first “soaps” in South Africa.
The drama series told the story of King Shaka Zulu who single-handedly built the Zulus from a comparatively insignificant tribe into a warrior nation which fought and won numerous battles against the oppressors.
Our tour guide Mbusk Mpungosu who is Cultural Advisor at Shakavillage, told us about the housing structure known as the homestead, the institution of marriage, which was polygamous, their occupation among other interesting aspects of their culture.
The Zulu tribe has existed for the past 200 years, and it is South Africa’s biggest indigenous group, which was led by a 29-year-old Shaka Zulu, who conquered tribes and annexed them, to enlarge his territory and kingship which turned the Zulu nation as it was described, into a powerful empire.
Interestingly, after the narration, we were led to one of the rooms where we were introduced to types of amazing Zulu dances, such as the ingoma, indlamu, and Reed Dance among others.
Traditional Zulu dance is an important part of the Zulu culture. Dancing is usually performed during a traditional Zulu ceremony, and it’s accompanied by vibrant singing and sometimes the beating of drums.
Zulu dance is something quite spectacular, especially when the men and women are fully dressed in their traditional attire.
I joined the dance session, and on the lighter side, I must confess that my
performance was below average, considering the level of energy exhibited by the Zulu people.
In all, our experience in KwaZulu-Natal Province was full of joy spectacular, and I cannot state this without telling you about my experience at the water park, Ushaka Marine World in Durban.
Watching the Dolphins show was one of my high points,You can’t go to Durban without paying uShaka a visit. The aquarium is world class and has wonderful sections with all kinds of scenic views for ones pleasure and relaxation.
It was hard to say goodbye to Durban, amidst its wonderful night life, but we had to; after four days we left for Guateng Province, to wrap up our tour of Johannesburg, as we visited Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto, and Mandela Square in Sandton.
On our final day, we had a night experience at Altitude beach, to enjoy an artificial beach scenery.
I can’t talk about my adventure without telling you about my experience with South African foods, though it is not spicy and ‘pepperish’ from a Ghanaian perspective, I did my best to enjoy with the support of Ghana shitto and Yeji Yeji from Nigeria.
interestingly, I learnt some Zulu words, ‘Yebo’, which means yes, ‘Siya piya’, we’re very very good, ‘Sawabona’, a South African greeting which means “I respect you, I value you, you are important to me.” and Siya bonga, to wit thank you among other words.
My Tour of South Africa through the support of SAT had really exposed me to how a country can consciously package tourism for recreational purposes and
economic empowerment, is worthy of emulation by other countries.
By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme