It was one hot afternoon while I was in Accra Central that I heard my phone ring. In order to avoid a situation where my phone would be snatched away from me and coupled with the incessant noise, I had hidden it in my pocket, hence my inability to hear the phone ring at the first time.
Indeed after the third ring, I picked the call and it was my good friend, Mr Mohammed Tanko Kwajaffa, the West Africa Trade Relations Manager of South African Tourism on the other end.
The mandate of South African Tourism in West Africa, particularly Nigeria and Ghana is to promote South Africa as a preferred holiday destination of choice.
As part of their marketing effort to ensure maximum exposure, they partner with both trade and media to assist them in achieving their objectives which are to increase arrivals to South Africa as well as spend while the visitors are in the country.
Like I have stated above, the SAT occasionally hosts a group of celebrities and the media in an all-expense paid trip to South Africa to explore the country and tell the story to potential visitors for tourism purposes. This year’s hosting commenced on Wednesday June 29 when the delegates from the two West African countries started arriving and is schedule to end on July 6.
Last year, I was part of the Ghanaian delegates for the hosting in which we visited and toured several places including attending the prestigious Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg and also the 11th edition of the Africa Movie Academy Awards in Port Elizabeth. When you travel with SAT, you are given premium treatment like a star.
I quickly accepted to be part of the hosting and explore again for more experience. Without any doubt, South Africa is a preferred holiday destination in Africa, so why wouldn’t I jump at such an opportunity? And the rest is why you are reading this!
I left Ghana with a South Africa Airlines (SAA) flight in the company of actress Yvonne Nelson and Regina Van Helvert, that beautiful young lady who placed second in the Miss Malaika beauty pageant four years ago. She is also a radio and television personality.
SAA’s inflight entertainment is top-notch – from movies to music and what have you makes you forget about the six hour flight from Ghana to South Africa. About six hours later, we arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport and quickly connected to another SAA flight to The King Shaka International Airport in Durban.
From the airport to our hotel was quite some distance – about 35 minutes’ drive. But finally we were driven straight to the 4-star plush Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani set on 63 Snell Parade Durban 4001, Durban South Africa overlooking the Indian Ocean.
The Hotel is situated in the bustling city of Durban on the beachfront. One interesting observation was that, though its one hotel on the same building, one side is named Elangeni and the other side is Maharani. Though we were at the latter, we could still have breakfast and dinner at any of the two.
We had dinner at Elangeni which was about 5 minutes walk from Maharani, then went straight to bed since there wasn’t any activity on the first day. The Nigerian delegation which included singer Tiwa Savage, comedian AY, Cool FM’s Oladotun Ojuolape Kayode aka Do2dtun, as well as top bloggers arrived on the second day. The Ghanaian delegation was called to join for lunch and fraternize with each other before the activities began.
uShaka Marine World
uShaka Marine World is a 16-hectare theme park opened in April 2004 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. It comprises 4 sections: uShaka Sea World, uShaka Wet ‘n Wild, uShaka Beach, and uShaka Village Walk. It is located on the strip of land between the beachfront and the harbour.
Mandela Capture Site
We had a luxury coach ride to The Mandela Capture Site. This site has an interesting story attached to it. It was the location where the late president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was captured by apartheid operatives and imprisoned for the next 27 years. From the Mandela Capture Site, you can see and enjoy the beautiful city of Durban.
Moses Mabhida Stadium
This multi-purpose stadium in Durban named after Moses Mabhida; a former General Secretary of the South African Communist Party hosted some of the 2010 FIFA World Cup matches. It is not just a stadium for Black Arrows who play in the South African Football League, it’s also a tourist attraction.
We were not able to make it into the stadium because of the renovation works going on but from the outside it looks beautiful. That edifice can change your mind even if you don’t like football.
Tiwa Savage Album Listening Session
The Nigerian singer may be going through a divorce or something of that sort but it surely doesn’t mean she should or cannot have fun. Looking at all that she has gone through in the past few months, accepting to be part of this amazing and fun trip was the right decision made – I think. Girlfriend Tiwa is indeed having mad fun.
South African Tourism celebrated her with an album listening session for her R.E.D album on a boat cruise on Wilson’s Wharf, situated on Durban’s Victoria embankment between the Yacht Mole and the Sugar Terminal.
By the time you read this, I will still be in Durban to continue with the exploration. I will surely give you another part of the experience next week but until then totsiens – that’s goodbye in Afrikaans.
By Ebenezer Anangfio
This piece was published in my column in Graphic Showbiz on July 4, 2016.