The three Cities Road Trip Challenge, a Rea Vaya Travel Company tour to Manzini Swaziland, Maputo with a final stop in Johannesburg this past festive season was a marvel.
The three-Coach procession of the newest kid on the travel and tours block took off from Gaborone into South Africa through Tlokweng Border Post in a revolutionary easterly pivot deep into the heart of Southern Africa. One of the prized takeaways from the Rea Vaya’s 3 Cities Challenge is definitely the merriment of fellow holidaymakers.
Strangers effortlessly became friends and conversations flowed with ease into the night, topics changing in an instant: from the politics back at home to the “chameleonic-ways of the media”-so they said. Two things struck me early in this sojourn: One of them was waking up to the world class South African road network. Even to the eye of a lay man, South African roads come across very urbane and sophisticated. The infrastructure is testament to the country’s size of economy and status as a regional and continental powerhouse.
The roads strike a traveler as having been built to last. They do not bear the scars of reconstruction that afflict ours. Aesthetically they are very appealing, adorned with road marks that are alien to this region of ours. The second has to do with the efficacy of the South African traffic police who dotted each highway, thoroughfare and street in the especially accident prone season of festivities.
Slicing through the Mpumalanga province en route to the Matsamo Border Post proved to be the mother of all contrasts. It was a reminder of what we have and what we do not have back at home. The land is characterised by towering mountains, huge gushing rivers winding alongside the mountain ranges, flanked by green undergrowth. The land also bore creeks, ravines and valleys so deep and in a scale no one among us had ever seen before. It was the stuff that Sci-Fi’s, Western and adventure motion picture is made of.
However, this is not to suggest that the great and long drawn mountain ranges have been spared the plough blades of Afrikaner farmers. Eucalyptus trees used to make gum poles and electric pylons are planted on top of these mountains. These trees are planted in such a manner that they resemble a pseudo-artwork of sorts. They are planted in rows tilting in different directions and are different sizes. They are also planted at different times of the year so that they can be lumbered in precise sequence. The result of this is eucalyptus fields of varying sizes.
When one passes the customs area of the Jeppes Reef/Matsamo Border Post; a point of entry between South Africa and Swaziland, the immediate striking feature in the skyline is the humongous mountain ranges. Another immediate recognizable change as one enters Swaziland from South Africa is the change in quality of the road network. Swazi ones are narrow, with scant shoulders and faded markings.
Swaziland is a mountain Kingdom in its own right. From Jeppes Reef/Matsamo border to the nearest town of Pigs Peak, the road meanders up and down mountains which collide to form deep valleys, some of them with flowing waters. These roads can give a jalopy the road test of its life.
Swazi villages dot these mountains. These mountain villages seem off limits for policing as they are simply out of reach for vehicles. Manzini which is one of the two largest cities in the Kingdom is fairly a small but urban city. It is home to Ezulwini Valley, the kingdom’s number one tourism cash cow. The valley encompasses different hotels such as Lugogo Sun Hotel, Happy valley Hotel and Casino among many others.
The Valley is also home to the Execution Rock also known as Nyonyane. According to legend, Swazis who committed capital offences in the pre-independence era were taken uphill and forced to leap to their deaths off the high cliff. Swazi warriors would edge an offender with spear jabs from the back.
Swaziland tourism even admits that the valley is spread over many kilometers stating, in its website: “The valley has no convenient road signs to demarcate where it begins and ends. It is generally understood to extend from the bottom of the Malagwane Hill southeast along the MR103 as far as the Lusushwana River, where the latter crosses the road just west of Lobamba, and is bordered by the Luphohlo/Lugogo Mountains to the west and the Mdzimba Mountains to the east. Some extend this definition to encompass Lobamba, Mlilwane and indeed the entire length of the MR103 as far as Matsapha.”
In local proportions, this might cover an area roughly from Kgale View to Broadhurst or even Tlokweng. In its expanse, the valley’s attractions include hotels, restaurants, hot springs, casinos, a cinema, craft markets, art galleries, riding stables, a nature reserve, a golf course and a cultural village and a mall. Most visitors pass this way, and those who spend just one night in the kingdom will probably spend it here.
One of the most visited and revisited place in the valley is the Matenga Cultural village. Mantenga is a small protected area of 725 hectares in a secluded corner of the Ezulwini Valley; it is only two kilometres from a major road. The Mantenga Falls are said to be Swaziland's best-known falls, and the largest in terms of volume of water (95m high).
The reserve is home to the Mantenga Cultural Village, a living museum of old traditions and represents a classical Swazi lifestyle during the 1850s. It comprises 16 huts, kraals and byres for cattle and goats, reed fences and other structures. The dance troupe in Matenga includes Swazi warriors and maidens partaking in an electrifying song and dance. Mantenga Cultural Village is the only tourist facility in Swaziland with its own fully-fledged permanent troupe.
Since 2004, Mantenga Cultural Group is said to have toured several European countries for a series of festivals and private appearances in countries such as Belgium, German, and France. Forging north east proceeding to Mozambique through the Mhlumeni/Namaacha Border Post it was evident that Swaziland is almost exclusively made of mountains as they start to recede as one tears forward into the Mozambican interior.
Mozambique is a hot and humid country. To some people it can be a jolt of culture shock though. With a population of 23 million one item that took many aback was the magnitude of hawkers and their tenacity when doing business. They mill around foreigners literally forcing one to buy.
Maputo is a vibrant city with historical sights of its own. One is the Samora Machel statue in central Maputo. Our visit to the country coincided with the shooting to death of former President, Armando Guebuza’s daughter, Valentina Guebuza by her husband. The tour guide told us that Valentina was one of the richest people in the country despite being only 38 years. He further disclosed that suspicion in the country was that her father pillaged the country’s assets and fronted with her more so that she was known for her riches but not business acumen.
The ultimate attraction in Mozambique was a boat cruise to the Portuguese Island, a few nautical miles from the mainland. Beaches in the mainland boasted dirty waters and one would not enjoy their holiday experience with nagging hawkers anyway. However the Portuguese Island boasted white sandy beaches and blue waters. It was so picture perfect that even a marriage proposal was done on the island by two lovebirds.
In retrospect, even though the sojourn had its own glitches, it was some of these that made the trip even worthwhile to remember.Coming back to Botswana the melancholy of having to part with fellow holiday maker friends was palpable in the coach. I had already made friends. Monty Siamangwe, Boaz, Masego and Tapologo were some of them.
Even as I write this piece I’m still hung on the nostalgia of the Rea Vaya 3 Cities Road Trip Challenge. It is something I will definitely do again this year. It is doubtlessly a revolutionary travel package by Rea Vaya Travel Company that gives holidaymakers a multicultural and multistate experience.
This book is a true-life story of an African King based in South Africa. The Last Frontier is a resistance stand by Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe and its line of Kings from 1885 against a dark force called ‘western democracy’ that is insidiously destroying lives, peoples, nations and threatens to wipe away whole civilizations in Africa.
The story flows through four important episodes of history, beginning in about 1885 when Bechuanaland Protectorate was formed. This section briefly reveals interactions between Kgosi Linchwe 1 and the British Colonial Government, leading to the establishment of Bakgatla Reserve by Proclamations of 1899 – 1904.
The second episode deals with Kgosi Molefi’s interaction with the British Colonial Government in the period of 1929-36. The third episode records Kgosi Linchwe II’s interactions with the British Colonial Government and black elites of Bechuanaland. It covers the period of 1964-66, leading to Botswana’s independence. Kgosi Linchwe ii resisted the unlawful expropriation of his country (Bakgatla Reserve) by Sir Seretse Kgama’s government of 1966 to no avail. He wrote letters of objection (December 1965) to Her Majesty the Queen of England, which are reproduced in this book.
The fourth episode covers the period between Kgafela Kgafela II’s crowning as King of Bakgatla in 2008 to 2021. It is a drama of the author’s resistance to the present-day Botswana Government, a continuation of Bakgatla Kings’ objection against losing Bakgatla country to the Kgama dynasty assisted by the British Government since 1885. The story is told with reference to authentic letters, documents, and Court records generated during the period of 1885-2019. There is plenty of education in history, law, and politics contained in The Last Frontier for everyone to learn something and enjoy.
Hailed for being the prime gospel concert after the Covid-19 pandemic had put events to a halt, Golden Relic, in conjunction with Sweet Brands, recently unveiled the Arise and Worship Concert, Botswana. The show marks the return of worshippers and fans to enjoy music and worship together after what seemed like “cooler box” events were taking over the entertainment scene.
The concert to be held on December 11th 2021, at the Molapo Showcase, has a packed lineup with the Headlining acts being Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela from South Africa and Botswana’s very own Obakeng Sengwaketse. More international acts from Nigeria and Ghana are also expected to grace the event. The show organizers have invested an effort in diversifying the lineup with live performances.
The promoter of the Arise and Worship Concert, David “DVD” Abram revealed in an overview of the event that; “We have lost a lot of loved ones this year, and when that happens, one’s spirit goes down, and we need a light to ground us once more, to heal our souls. Therefore, the two main purposes of this event are to do the work of God and, secondly, to make sure that we nurture and develop talent in Botswana. With challenges that come up with events of such magnitude, the team and I have been committed to seeking guidance from God through having night prayers.”
Abram added that as promoters, they usually have a bias towards already established artists, thus neglecting the upcoming ones and wanting to change that. “We approached the Melody Gospel TV Show since we aim at nurturing new talent and agreed on having one of the winners as a headliner for the event to allow them to share the stage with gospel giants so that they are exposed to the industry. This resulted in securing the Second Winner of the Melody Gospel TV show; Thabiso Mafoko as a local headlining act.”
The concert also aims at celebrating a Motswana. Multi-Award Winner; with the most recent title; BOMU Best Traditional Gospel under his belt, also best known for his soulful voice and heartfelt lyrics, Obakeng Sengwaketse enthusiastically said, “I want to thank the organizers of the Arise and Worship concert, it means a lot to me after recently winning two awards that are currently the highlight of my career.
I regard this as a great revival because the Covid-19 pandemic has muffled events such as this. I am looking forward to sharing the stage with the great Bishop Benjamin Dube, Lebo Sekgobela and more artists from Nigeria and Ghana. Sengwaketsi urged Batswana to come and witness the greatness of the Lord as their lives will never be the same.”
Tickets are selling like fat cakes with VVIP tickets having only five tickets remaining; the VVIP tickets include rounder access backstage to all the performing artists. The event will also comprise a seated Gold Circle Ticket, which accounts for 50% of revellers to allow for easier enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and avoid a potential stampede.
In a bid to entice merrymakers to buy tickets, the promoters have come up with a layby strategy and buying tickets on an instalment basis for the attendees to be able to buy their tickets since the COVID-19 Pandemic has left many Batswana in financial ruin but having the interest to attend the event.
One can only imagine what is like being in the public eye. It is not a walk in the park; and not as easy as people might think it is because of the pressure from the public. Celebrities or influencers are perceived to be perfect, perfect bodies, perfect families, perfect parents, financially stable, healthy, and always smiling and patient with everyone – Is this for real?
However, when people’s expectations of celebrities are not met, the same celebrities are often victimized, body shamed, or blamed, fairly or unfairly. As a result of them not having a personal life, they are often scrutinized in all aspects of their lives; their lives are aired for the public to see and judge. Celebrities are often extra careful about everything that they do, they have to go an extra mile as compared to how ordinary people live their lives.
To understanding this experiences by public figures, this reporter made a case study of Mr Lizibo Gran Mabutho, the firstborn in his family with only one sibling, his younger brother. Lizibo describes himself as a simple Kalanga guy who was chosen by music and did not choose music.
He said being raised by his mother and grandmother, he grew up surrounded by music from birth. Lizibo said his grandmother was a religious person who held church services at their house in Zwenshambe, “for me singing was from Monday to Sunday. I was not like any ordinary child who only sang at church on Sundays or sometimes in school assembly, for me it was a daily thing. My mother was also a talented dancer in our village that is what I mean when I say I did not choose music, but music chose me.”
Lizibo said though he grew up surrounded by music, it was hard for his parents to accept the path he has chosen to be a musician. Lizibo said he had to prove to his parents that music was his passion and that it could pay the bills like any other profession. He said eventually they saw his passion for music and supported him.
Lizibo said being exposed to music from a tender age made him venture into the music career from a tender age. He said he was part of the Kgalemang Tumediso Motsete (KTM) choir, Lizibo said being in the public eye for the longest time has taught him that he is living for the people and that he does not have a life. He said the very society that is watching him has so much expectation for him and that means he has to conduct himself in a good manner because people are looking up to him.
Lizibo said he understands the saying that great power comes with great responsibility, “when people see me, they see a role model. I realize and understand that people are and have been modelling me even when I was not aware of it, I know of six mothers who have named their sons after me because they felt that I inspire them somehow.”
He said he has accepted his fate that he will never have a normal life because people are looking unto him. He said he is grateful to be in the public on a positive note by bringing hope to the people because he has always wanted to be part of people’s solutions and not their problems.
He said, “people should understand that our careers are our calling. One needs to be spiritually connected to their calling as an artist. The most rewarding part about being in the public for me is not about payment but about being the solution to someone’s problem.”
Lizibo said the greatest challenge that he has ever faced about being in the public eye has been the issue of trust, not able to know which friends are genuine and which ones are not. He said as a way of avoiding fake friends he has always kept his four close friends who have been there for him through thick and thin. Lizibo said being close to his family has also helped him as they have been his strength when things were not going well for him, “most of the time people say we change when we taste fame. That is not necessarily true because people are the ones who changed when we became famous. People always want something from us, nothing is ever genuine with people and that is why I chose to keep my circle very small.”
Lizibo said as much as he travels a lot because of the nature of his work because it is naturally demanding, he said he always ensures that he creates time for his family. He said that at home he is Lizibo who is sent to do errands, he is Lizibo the son, not a celebrity.
He said there is a lot of pressure that comes with being in the spotlight, “the public puts so much pressure on us mostly about the material lifestyle they portray us to have. We are often compared with South African celebrities, but people fail to understand that we are two different countries. Most people fell into the trap and are living above their means resulting in them living in debt. I often tell youngsters not to fall into that trap of being tempted to live life above their means.”
The advice Lizibo gave to upcoming celebrities was that they should know that being in the public is not about them, but it is about the people. He said, “one of my mentors once asked me if I make music about myself or the people. He said I need to make music for the people because it is my responsibility to feed them with what they need, he said they might not even be able to know that they have a need but that I need to identify that need and meet it. Our responsibility is to serve people what they need, our music is to feed people’s hunger. My music is about love, I feed people love.”
Lizibo said it is important for celebrities to seek counselling and take care of their mental health, he said he has been investing in his mental health for years because he understands the importance of mental health especially when one is in the public.