International journos taken aback by the trapestry SA has to offer!

In tow with our fellow colleagues from Botswana and Mozambique, we had a very intriguing, demanding and of course, exciting week. And yes, at every opportunity Nicky Minaj was mentioned more than once. Ahem!

The thriving Maslow Hotel in Sandton was our base.

From visiting Soweto to impart, experience and share what this historical and the biggest townships on the Continent makes its tick; our visitors were taken aback by the rich history Soweto exudes with, and how the community have turned it into a burgeoning melting pot of activities. Not to mention the economical spin-offs it is experiencing.

Amid the excitement of stamping their feet for the first time in Soweto, our visitors pulled out all the stops to make their excursion memorable and unforgettable.

As we paddled back and forth on our bicycles provided by the popular figure (Thabo from Soweto Backpackers) in Orlando, kids on the street and gogos cheered us on.

Some young boys and girls playing morabaraba (chess) were disturbed by our presence thus labeling us as ‘abelungu‘ -whites. 

 This got me thinking and prompted to ask pryingly why were those kids calling us ‘abelungu’ which our very informative tour guide Bongani “Chompies” Makhida, convincingly pointed out that because they very often see white tourists more than blacks. Aha…

As a result of a two-hour grueling tour, our ‘behinds’ not (Minaj’s kinda stuff) were in an uncompromising pain. Mine only began healing two days ago.

In between the breaks-due to scorching heat-we feasted on inyama and traditional beer!

The Backpackers provide bicycles, tents, entertainment and tours in and around Soweto.

Being a novice when coming to other adventurers activities for personal reasons-after a very close family member almost lost her life having fallen 6m in Sun City during dance rehearsals recently- I opted to observe as everyone went for the sky-high tour at the Two-Towers at the well-liked Chaf Pozi-‘secret place’ Orlando.

Imbibing of forbidden waters and food experience were the order of the day, since we were observing the national heritage day. Clad in their national outfits guests danced, stomped as traditional music took centre stage. And yes, we all joined in the ambience, unfailingly.

Our hosts Gauteng Tourism Authority, Joburg Tourism and South African Tourism, decided we to we take a turn to (Museum Africa) at Gold Reef City for an edutainment.

The venue is a historical venue, which has thick political history depicting where we come from until this day. It has compelling background information that WOWED our visitors.

“So, this is how democracy was achieved in your country,” remarked one Mozambiquean journalist, with a concerned tone as he read through the archives of our leaders.

“Yet, despite all this horror and imbalances you managed to fight unrentlessly to achieve and build this majestic country,” (chirped in a Botswana radio presenter).

A tour to the Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng (a Tswana word meaning returning to a place of origin) also gave a different perspective to what and where human beings originate from, amongst others. Irrespective how often we local journos’ visit the venue, it is never tiring to keep learning more.

More especially, as we protruded through the caves at times landing on our ‘behinds’ (not Minaj’s kinda stuff).

Our very competent female tour-guide Zodwa Mtshali from Krugersdorp; made fun of us, without losing focus on important issues. She’s a student from Wits University, the owners and founders of Maropeng.

Cooking is an in-thing in SA lately. Believe it or not, we had an opportunity to cook our meals. Yes, nothing was burnt as Tankiso Komane (The New Age) and Pearl Magubane (SABC News) made sure everyone honoured their cooking time schedule, with glasses of a cold one on each hand…

Braamfontein Market was a hive of activities from new to unknown beer brands, to chakalakas and curry bunny-chows, etc.

This was an awesome outing as live bands showed us a thing or two.

Gorgeous young-ones came in large numbers in skimpily clad dresses to get merry. ‘Braam’ as we’ve coined it, is an academic area. Whatever, happens there remains!

As we wrapped up the week that was, the international Joy of Jazz took center stage.

The three-night show was astounding as revelers came in large numbers at the Sandton Convention Center.

 The age-defying and Grammy Award winner Billy Ocean gave a show of a lifetime as he belted his popular hits one after the other. And the throngs of attendants sang ALONG! So did Diane Reeves, Gregory Porter and our very own ntate Jonas ‘Moremogolo’ Ngwangwa.

“Oh, what a week. I hope you guys now have a valid reason to report on what you saw and tell the world; how magnificent our country is. Be critical if possible but come up with solutions as well,” concluded Barba Gaoganediwe, GTA head of communications.  

Yes, I was looking forward seeing the ‘official’ twerk but the City of Tshwane and the organisers of TribeOne Festival decided to exchange blows in court rather. As a result, the city decided to dump us!

Damn you Nicky Minaj and your costly twerk…  

* Sydney Morweng was a guest of GTA, Jhb Tourism and SAT. 

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