My winning photograph

16 Jul

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My brother called to tell me my photo (attached) won R5000 from Freestate Tourism. Unfortunately he kept all the money.

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Two Sister Tavern Lesotho

16 Jul

Two Sister Tavern Lesotho

One thing i love about the travelling is the randomness of things, while trying to check on the South African farm only accessible from Lesotho we passed this “Two Sister Tavern” a rudimentary watering hole. We bought to 750ml beer bottles and proceeded with our trip back to South Africa.

My Festivals of Africa

25 May

One of my hobbies is outdoor performances. I love the energy from the performers, the sound of instruments and many other good things about outdoor events. Africa has many festivals be it Film, Music, Books, Arts, Cultural, and each and every one is remarkable on its own. I have seen many of these festivals around the continent and there are still more to see.
I’d like  to share some of these festivals that I have attended  in no particular order.

Splashy Fen Festival – Underberg – Kwazulu Natal

It’s a 5 Day long camping festival happening on the slope of  southern Drakensberg near the town called Underberg, it has been happening for the past 24 years, so it’s kind of an  institution in South Africa. I can classify the festival as family festival because it attracts moms and pops. The are no star attractions for the festival, many of the acts performing are upcoming or unknown bands, with the exception of the legendary Syd Kitchen who has played at the festival since its inception till death caught up with him.

The fact that’s it’s family festival does not make it boring at all, the debauchery that you find at such festival is on display. When parents decide to rest in their tents after a day of festivities its time for youngsters to party for the rest of the night as bands perform till late, drinking goes on all night, people get lost and can’t locate their tents in the wee hours of the morning. It’s usually raining during the time of the festival and it gets muddy and that adds to the fun.

If you want to have break from music you can take 30km drive to Sani Pass in Lesotho, its a highest driving pass in Southern African and its were you find ‘Highest Pub in Africa’ its scary as hell to drive there and you need a 4×4. The view from the top is magical.

                          

Umhlanga Reed Dance – Ludzidzini Swaziland

It happens between end August and beginning of September. It is famously known as the festival where King of Swaziland picks a wifen but that did not happen when I was there.

Like many guys I went to the festival to look at women’s breasts judge me if you can but that was one of the motivation for going there. I feel its a justified motivation having grown up seeing pictures of these half naked beautiful women in newspapers after the event. On the day of the main event we went to the stadium bought ourself traditional Swazi attire to fit in with the festivities.

The beauty of the festival takes you over when you are there, and you forget about ogling a young virgin breasts as you get consumed by song and dance, colourful costumes and the spectacle of seeing 80000 virgins from different villages of the Kingdom. You appreciate the pride Swazis take in their culture, families with young children will be there with their offspring dressed for the occasion. Parents of teenagers will also be there to watch as their daughters enter womanhood, within the confines of their culture. It’s a beautiful cultural festival and I would be happy to check it out again.

                

Bush Fire Festival – Ezulwini Swaziland
It happens at the end of May at a place called House of Fire in Swaziland, the festival attracts some of the best local and international stars. The likes of Jonny Clegg, Oliver Mtukuzi, Viex Farka Toure, Freshly Grounds have graced the festival. It’s a 3 days of beautiful African music, crowds and atmosphere.

House of Fire is big venue it can accommodate about 3 performances, the main stand, second stand and dance club. I went there with number of South Africans and many European friends who were visiting for 2010 World cup. We booked ourself the whole backpackers lodge for the duration of the Festival, there was a choice to camp close to House of Fire or book yourself in the hotel.

The after parties with ‘virgins’ maidens are epic

              

Lake of Stars – Mangochi Malawi

I was first introduced to this festival by my friend Merushka, “Lake of Stars” was name given by the explorer Livingstone describing the the lake of Malawi. The Festival is fairly a new Festival but one that has gained the reputation as one of the best to see on the continent.

The line up is mix of big musicians and up and coming local Malawians. When I was there it was headlined by the Noisettes and Oliver Mtukudzi.

The festivals happens on the shore of the lake, in the middle of hot September month, it happens over a period of 3 days. To get there I flew from Jo’burg to Lilongwe. The following day I took a lift with a local Malawians to head to the festival.  As usual I preferred to camp instead of staying at a hotel. The festival performance goes on until the early hours of the morning. Some revellers prefer just to sleep on the beach, i also did this when my tent was infested with insects.  It’s a beautiful festival that’s is attended by music lovers from all over the world.

        

Festival au Desert – Timbuktu Mali

One of the best things about this festival is that its happens in Timbuktu, yes it does exist and it’s a historical place to visit. Getting to Timbuktu where this great festival happens its a mission and half, not because the roads are unbearable, (simple sedan cars can drive there), but because of the monsoon dust of the Sahara desert its only preferable to drive a 4×4.
It took us 48hours to get there a combination of rude tour guides, overheating car and constant Muslim prayers along the way.

Festival au Desert happens in the 2nd week of January in the Sahara desert in Timbuktu, yep that’s very early in the year, but which African music lover cannot take the opportunity to attend a festival in Mali, a country known for some of the best musicians in the continent. The line up for the festival has who is who of Mali music scene and musicians from neighbouring countries like Senegal and Niger.  When I was there I got to see Viex Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Habib Koite, B0mbino (Niger) etc

Festival au Desert is for Africans and I discovered that $150 late, when I had already paid for my ticket, on getting  to the reception to get my tag I was told its free for Africans. As compared to all other festivals that I attended the aspect of letting citizens and other Africans for free impressed me most.

If I had booked for accommodation it would have cost me about $30 per night but i choose to take my chances and when I got to the festival I asked a local guide to allow to set-up a tent that I had bought in Bamako, the area we camped was at least 300m away from the main stage and had organic ablution  facilities and if lucky enough will be observed by nomad camel when doing your thing.  There were no bathing facilities. I only saw a shower after 6 days after the trip to Dogon Country. Dogon Country is an ancient city in Mali that still traditional cultures of Mali till today, modernisation and urbanisation are still to change the character of this ancient place.

This festival remains the best i have attended the music is great, Tuareg people welcoming and you are in the great ancient city of Timbuktu. Pity there is war going on now I hope it gets resolved and Africans can attend this festival.

       

Festivals I am yet to see

Sauti za Busara Music Festival – Zanzibar Tanzania

I have always wanted to attend this festival pity it clashes with the Mining Indaba a conference that pays my bills, it happens in the second week of February.

Ouagadougou Film Festival – Burkina Faso

Biggest film and Television  festival in the continent

Festival of Black Arts – Senegal

Its a once a decade festival that happens in Dakar Capital city of Senegal, it attracts black artist from all over the world the last one happened in 2010, the next one will be happening in 2020

Harare International Festival of the Arts – Zimbabwe

Its one of the biggest arts festival in the continent happening between end of April and beginning of May

Africa is the place of rhythm and soul go out and enjoy your continent

Bungee Jumping Bloukraans – ‘Fear is temporary, regret is permanent’

16 Jan

Its not everyday that we decide to do crazy things, bungee jumping the Bloukraans bridge was one of those things for me. I first visited the beautiful area of Stormsriver in 2008, I was on holiday in Knysna on the famous Garden Route, one day while i was bored I decide to take 120km drive to Stormsriver and Tsitsikamma, places that I had never seen before. I also wanted to see the famous Bloukraans bridge is 219m high and its the officially the highest Bungee jump in the world according Guinness World Records.

Unfortunately when i got there I chickened out from jumping despite seeing 16 years old boys and girls jump, they tried to pursue me but i did not budge instead I opted for lousy ‘flying spider’ a simple swing from one side of the bridge to the other, its still scary though. I made some silly excuse not to jump, my boy was one year old and I am not prepared to leave him alone, I did not see other black people jump, what if i was bewitched, blah blah blah.

Driving back I could not stand the regret for not jumping the slogan for company managing the bungee ‘ FEAR IS TEMPORARY AND REGRET IS PERMANENT became all true for my entire holiday, actually for my entire year. Whenever I spoke about my holidays, memories and regret of not jumping haunted me. I vowed to do it again.

Following year my brothers and I took a camping trip to Tsitsikamma and i had nothing in mind but to bungee jump, I drove from Jo’burg to Tsitsikamma with one clear objective BUNGEE JUMPING BLOUKRAANS BRIDGE. My sleep was not easy, firstly because of rough storms considering I was sleeping in a tent and secondly I was apprehensive about the morning jump, small batches of sleep I got where interrupted by bad dreams about the jump.

In the morning it was cloudy, I was not sure if they operate the bungee when the weather is bad, we took our chances and drove to the bridge, I had recruited two of my brother to jump with me, the story of my year regret had convinced them its something they had to so. When we got the there the bungee was operational despite what seamed like a bad weather. My two brothers upon checking the visitors view site of the bridge chickened out immediately and I was left to jump alone. This time around i had no doubt about jumping, I signed indemnities without even reading them, though prior to the jump I got worried about clauses in my life insurance.

Despite psyching my self for the year, nothing prepared me for the jump, you cannot stop thinking that it might be your last day on planet earth. The view of the Gorge and Indian ocean from the bridge its so beautiful and somehow gives you comfort that should you die, you would have died at one of the most beautiful places in South Africa.

5-4-3-2-1 Bungeeeeeeeeee

Tanzania Safari on the cheap

7 Dec

Tanzania is arguably the best Safari destination this continent has to offer, it’s estimated that 40% of the country is game reserves, Selous Game Reserve being the biggest in the world, the amazing Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and many others are there too. I have visited Ngorongoro Crater part of the greater Serengeti Conservation area, I cannot begin to compare to the exceptional beauty i have seen with other Game Reserves I have seen around the continent.

 

The main challenge with visiting Tanzania Game Reserves especially Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater Conversation Area is that they are extremely expensive they were not made for a budget traveller, if visiting Tanzania going to the game reserves, swallow large chunk of your budget, when I was there it costs approximately $650 per person to visit the game reserves, to be fair this was a packaged deal for 3 days that included 2 other parks Lake Manyara and Tarangire Game Parks, if you want to do a single day trip it was impossible and the costs did not differ that much from a 3 day packaged deal.

Part of my backpacking trip from Joburg to Kenya by public transport did not include going inland to Arusha, I had planned to visit Zanzibar back to Dar and to Mombasa by bus, unfortunately the Scandinavian bus company operating from Dar to Mombasa was no longer operating and I had to change my plans to go to Nairobi via Arusha, its was long treacherous, reckless bus trip on a bus called “Skyline Express” it took about 8 hours or so to get to Arusha. One thing that hit you when you get to Arusha is the amount of Safari 4×4 cars and touts selling you deals to visit Safaris, it’s perverse and bothers on intimidation. I knew that since I am here I am going to have to visit one of the Game Reserves but damn they were expensive and some plain ridiculous, big name operators where the worst.

My time in Arusha was limited and as I tried to find the easiest way to visit some of the parks I realized that it was not gonna be enough to do 3 day packaged Safari so my friend and I decided that instead of calling numbers given by touts, we are going to flag one of the many Safari 4×4 cars driving around town and take our chances, many guys we approached referred us to their operating companies while others flatly refused, so we decided to flag unmarked 4×4’s as luck will have it we found a guy willing to take us there for a day.

I had already established compulsory park fees $200 for a car, $50 entrance fee per person this we were prepared to pay, our negotiations with transport guys was for taking us there for a day. We ended up agreeing on $75 per person when they wanted $150 per person, we cancelled food which they wanted $20 per person. In the end we agreed pay a total of $225 per person to visit Ngorongoro Crater. If we had extra two people our costs were going to be $50 cheap. Thats me than half of the amount we should have paid on “proper” visit.

We paid half the amount after we agreed and the other half when we finish the trip, we were continuously warned via notice boards never to pay any amount in advance, because of rampant theft by unscrupulous operators, the half the amount we paid, we were prepared to lose should our guys decide not to pitch up in the morning.

In the morning around 5am the car arrived and we were ready to begin 2 hour journey to the park. While negotiating with the Safari guys they were bringing a newer car to our meetings but in the morning they had brought much older car but still a 4×4 tried to squill but when you know you have fought hard bargain with people it’s always fair to forgo such comforts. The trip to the park on the older car was not without drama as the first pothole we drove on racked up the car and gave me whiplash, there were no handles to hold on to apart from the front seat.

When we got to the entrance of the park, our guides (Bonfas and Andrew) tried to pull another trick with the park authorities, they asked to pretend that I am a Tanzania and instead of paying $50 for foreigners I will only pay $5, and we can share the change. I told them I don’t need any change and if they are lucky they can have money, that all went according to plan and they threw a quick crash course in Swahili to help me say hello, we reached the boom gate to enter the park, they explained to the security that I am a Tanzanian as indicated on the receipt, the security did not buy the story, my mawhawk and fancy camera gave me away. The security did not buy it, they dared him to talk to me to see himself, their worst nightmare arrived, the security said few things in Swahili and I could only repeat what he said, there was cold silence in the car, our guides just realized their plan has spectacularly failed and now they have to pay extra $20 dollar fine on top of $50 they have to pay for my entrance, the security guy refused to take bribe and promised to arrest them on the spot. Me and my travel partner could not stop laughing at the incident as our guides left to pay fines and whatnots, to say they were peeved it’s understatement, they just saw their profit margins disappearing.

Nothing ever beats the spectacular view of the Ngorongoro Crater from view point on the road to Serengeti plains it’s a 20km radius and 600m deep caldera of the amazing geological feature full African beasts. It becomes clear when standing on top why it’s worth every cent you pay to visit the place. Just standing on top is enough to appreciate the beauty, we then continued on the trip to go inside the crater, we drove down until we reached the footwall of the crater where animals roam around and Masai people herding their live stock inside the crater within full view of predators, only carrying a spear to protect themselves and their animals.

When drove to the bottom of the crater, our guide Bonfas climbed off the car, opened the top and this gave us one spectacular game viewing the rattling and discomfort of the car turned into the most blissful moment, since we were only two in the car we had enough space to both view from the top unlike “fancy” operators that had to many people inside. We enjoyed spectacular viewing of of the game, since we came in the right season the the grass was green, yet very low you could see animals ankles, the salt lake in the middle of the crater was pink with flamingos, within a short distance you could seem lions, buffaloes and Rhinos, Lions etc.

When it came to lunchtime our friends who wanted to charges us $20 only had biscuits and water for lunch, fortunately we asked for lunch packs from Arusha Backpackers and it was enough to share with them. We thoroughly enjoyed the the crater, game drive, drama and everything that it offered. Having see the Game Reserves in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, I will bet my last dollar that visiting Tanzanian Safari is incomparable experience.

Malaria Diagnosis by Google Translate

5 Dec

Late last year and the beginning of this year i travelled to couple of Francophone Countries, prior the trip i bought couple of French material to ease me into the language. I knew nothing about French except saying “Bonjour and Jetaime” this should be popular phrases in French since i cannot even remember how i got to know them. Honesty speaking I was not perturbed by my lack of French when i planned my trip I just knew that somehow I will find the way, and finding the way i did.

When I first got to Burkina Faso, i was with fellow traveller who could say few things in the language and there was no need for me to use my phrase book and French translation podcast, the trouble started when she left the day after our arrival. I was now faced with having to speak the language since many people in Burkina Faso did not speak the English.

The second day after arriving in Burkina Faso I was not feeling 100% ok, i had bit of diarrhoea and sweating at night, I suspected that i may have contracted malaria since this where know symptoms of Malaria. Its at this point that i realised i am in trouble with French, i asked the recpetionist at the hostel I was staying in where is the clinic since he could speak little English he gave me some directions, which i faintly understood. I decided to walk to the clinic and ask people closer to where i think the clinic was to give me directions. I had my phrase book in my back pocket for what i hoped will be assistance,  that never sufficed, couple of people i asked could not understand me and i could not understand them, my big problem also was that i was incorrectly saying the the name of the clinic and that caused me to go around the bloc about 2 times without finding the place.

When i wanted to ask as question i would take my phrase book and try to translate using English animated pronunciation that did not help either, i tried saying Malaria hoping people will send me to the clinic that did not help also, its only when i decided to call the hostel and asked the receptionist that i realised i was saying the name of the clinic wrong, once i got it right,  people where able to direct me to the right place.  I got to the clinic  stood on the que, until it was my time to see the doctor, language barrier started again, the doctor could not say anything in English, he only heard when I sad malaria and i could not understand what he said in return. Its only when i realised that he was on the internet that i indicated that we should probably use google translate to discuss. I typed what was ailing me in English and translated that in French, he will ask me a question in French and translates that into English. We did that till he told me to go to the lab to get my blood tested.

Laboratory people had no problem with english so we managed to get all tests done, and they told me to come back after 5 hours for results, back to the clinic again it with google translate that i was told i have Malaria, the doctor was smiling when he told me that, at least i knew it was not serious. He gave me subscriptions which i got from the chemist in town, without a problem. My only problem was that I had to stop drinking alcohol for 7 days while on medication. That meant spending my new years eve without touching alcohol.

 

Bus trip: Accra to Ouagadougou

1 Dec

The bus was leaving at 10am, I had already purchased my ticket 2 days before because I was warned if did not do this the bus, the was no way that I will catch the bus, and that will mean spending to more days in Accra. I left Kokrobite a beach town 30km outside Accra very early in the morning since I had already experienced crazy Accra traffic, but as fate will have it the traffic was rather smooth on the day and by 8am I was at the bus station.

Since I had some time in the before bus departure I took taxi to do last tour of Accra and go check Kwame Nkwarumah museum. When I got the museum, I was told I am but early the museum opens at 10am, I begged the security to take photos from outside, he showed me signs saying its not allowed, I tried to get sentimental with him by telling him that I supported Ghana during the Soccer World Cup even showing some of the photos I took on my BlackBerry that failed also. I went around Independent Square took some pictures and moved back to the bus station.

I “checked” inn registered my name etc and took my backpack for loading, it was gonna be a long trip so I decided to get something to eat, the restaurant next to bus station had nothing interesting i could eat, since I had bad experience with Fufu, I was in no mood to tried it again, I settle on ordering some meat with rice and only ate rice. I bough snacks and bottled water from the outside vendors. I went to the bathroom where I had to pay some Cedi’s to use it despite being dirty loo.

The travel between Accra and Ouagadougou is 772km on a normal road that should take you at worst 12 hours with the slowest bus, I was informed by fellow passengers that we will be traveling for 24 hours, having traveled with buses across the continent I was not bothered by this my only concern is traveling safe.

While waiting for the bus I was joined by Sarah, American lady I met earlier at backpackers i stayed at called Big Millys in Kokrobite, she was going the same route with me. Departure time passed and there was no movement we were waiting as other people going Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger where boarding their busses. It’s only around 12pm that there was movement from our side, I had planned to share a seat with Sarah, as we boarded we choose what looked like a perfect seat for the trip, within minutes we where humbly requested to move to our seat as indicated in the ticket, I never thought that will be the arrangement, we requested bus hostess to make arrangement that we seat together, finally we settled on seating on the same row but not the same seat.

I shared my seat with Ghanaian guy traveling to Senegal, yep that’s far away that’s like 5 days trip in the bus, its like passing 3 countries. Around 13:30 the bus departed, as I was introducing myself to to this guy, the first thing he told me was that the road between Accra and Kumasi is called death road something I preferred not to be told, as we drove along it was clear why it has the famous name, it’s complete chaos, people are driving on road that’s being built a complete chaos, fortunately s it was daylight when we drove.

Me and my travel mate to Ouagadougou

2 hours after departure we stopped for food, this time I could get some interesting stuff to eat as murphy’s law will have it I did not have enough Cedi’s to get my haute meal. I settled for drum stick and carry rice, it was delicious. With full stomach I could take my kindle and my iPod to enjoy the journey.

The Bus trip was all good until the bus driver started making arbitrary stops along the road and he will request that we all climb off the bus while he disappears with it for few minutes, no explanation was given the worst of this stops is when we got to Kumasi it was raining, dark and cold we were asked to get out again with the bus driver disappearing. I simply assumed that he has girlfriends all over the place and he checks them at our expenses, we stopped again in the early hours of the morning in the most busy market I have seen at night, people were cooking and selling food, toilets as usual were paid toilets.

As the trip went along I realized that there are two guys carrying AK47 in the bus, they carried them so openly as they went on the bus passage this machines will rub off against you crazy experience if you ask me. I only got a chance to ask these guys what are they carrying guns for when we got to early morning market, they said they are bus marshals and they carry them to prevent armed robberies on busses. Tjo!

We finally reached Bolgatanga the border town with a Burkina Faso, it was around 6am and cold, once again we were told to get off the bus with the bus left for unknown reasons, we could not hide for the cold in the “waiting room” we were told to use. The bus was back around 7am and we left to cross the border, which opened at 7am anyway. Borders in this parts of the world look like no borders at all, immigration services is conducted under a tree and some open structure in corrugated iron roof. These people pretend as if they take their job serious maybe they do.

We finally got into Burkina Faso stopped at immigration, suddenly vagrants attacked our luggage, with the help of soldiers or immigration officer, no question asked just a voilent removal of our bags from the bus to the checking point, since they spoke french, I could not ask them what they were doing we followed where they were taking the bags and immigration officer requested that each passengers stand next to their bags and he instructed us to open luggage as he checked it, there was no serious checking just quick browse and he moved to another bag, once you close the bag vagrants are forcefully taking you bag to the bus, no amount of screaming will stop them once they packed your bag they demand to be paid, I gave them money I had and moved on.

When we finished doing all that, we were instructed to walk outside immigration gate the bus will get us that side it was not a long stretch but something i find very unnecessary, the bus was supposed to come just after, we waited for 5 hours in hot day without shade, hassled by street vendors selling all crazy stuff, we we asked what’s happening with the bus no one could explain the long wait some travelers claimed the bus was broken and they were busy fixing, we did not get the real reason we waiting so long in the middle of nowhere. I only assumed that they wanted us to by from the vendors. Whilst waiting there I had a needed to go to the toilet, which I did it was a dirty Muslim toilet that I had to pay for to get a backet of water and toilet paper. I had never used these toilets before and it was not in good condition and what followed cannot written in words it was a mess.

Sarah and other travelers waiting for the bus

The bus arrived and as usual no apology given, we were about 100km from Ouagadougou after 30 minutes driving the bus stopped again for an hour we were ordered to get off while our bags were checked again, I told Sarah I am gonna start hitch hiking this is unacceptable nonsense, the was no luck hitch hiking. We started moving again and were stopped again for by armed police/soldiers from Ghana and Burkina Faso they got into the bus with AK47 called some dude’s name he did not respond, they went straight to him and arrested him for drug possession they read his rights hand cuffed him and took him outside the bus, they sincerely apologized for the delay and wished us the safe travel.

We got to a Ouagadougou around 17:00 tired, dirty and thirsty with Sarah’s help we got a taxi that took us straight to our backpackers Le Pavillion Vert. I had a wonderful stay there with free Internet and good food.

Visiting Thomas Sankara’s Tomb

1 Dec

Captaine Thomas Sankara

Who is Thomas Sankara, he is a charismatic revolution hero from Burkina Faso, the name he gave the country meaning “land of upright man”. He came to power at the age of 32 via a military coup to oust former dictator in what was know as Upper Volter.

In the 4 years he ruled the country he made significant strides in improving the lives of people of Burkina Faso, in 4 years the country was able to feed itself, women where empowered and environmental degradation was reversed. What made Thomas Sankara more powerful was the simple life he lived as president, he sold all government Merc’s and used a modest Renault, he instructed all ministers to fly economy class, he used a bicycle to drive around the city.

He was the most vocal African president for the emancipation of the continent from the colonial rule, he suffered no fools in telling France, colonial power were to get off. One classic example is when he told French president to stop preaching about peace when he still meet with killers of black people like PW Botha, apartheid president of South Africa. He also played a role when SA white academics where having discussion with ANC in Lusaka, Dakar and other areas to discuss peaceful negotiations in South Africa. Monument was build in Burkina Faso for fight against apartheid during his rule. Unfortunately I did not get to see the monument when I was in Ouagadougou.

Thomas Sankara was assassinated in 1987 mission planned by the current president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, with the help of then Ivorian President and French government, the excuse for killing him was that he was disturbing relations with French government and neighboring nations.

So when i was in Burkina Faso I wanted to pay great respect to son of the soil, my plan was to visit his tomb on the outskirts of the city. The day before m and fellow traveler met a guide (Mamadou) who took us to a temporary “Musee de Music” to play with ancient instrument the new museum was being built. Before we departed i organized with him to take me to “Museum de Nacional” and I never told him about my plan to visit Sankara tombs. I thought I will throw it as plan in the morning. Whereabouts of the Sankara ‘s tomb are not available on guidebooks or public information, actually anything about Sankara has been reduced to tiny street named after him in the city.

After a rather boring trip to “Musee de Nacional” I bluntly told him I want to visit Sankara’s tomb my guide was surprised, he never had such a request before and he did not know where it was, apart from that he told me he is not comfortable to talk about Sankara publicly as its not encouraged by the present government. It did not take much to convince him to take me there, i told him how important is this to me and in the circles I live, he is as revered like many Africans Icons i.e. Lemumba, Mandela, Biko, Machel etc.

Mamadou 'Guidee'

He started asking normal people where is the Sankara’s tomb bits by bits, village by village we got to the area where the grave yard is, unfortunately where the taxi dropped us meant that we had to walk at least a km and when we got the the grave yard was camped it meant going around to the entrance gate, there was a security when we got there for fear of our entry being rejected we lied to him about what we gonna do there, he allowed us in and off we went, since it was a big grave yard I thought we were going to spend the whole day looking for it, fortunately Friends of Sankara were there few months ago to commemorate his 23rd year since his death, Sankara and fellow soldiers graves were all painted white and we could not miss them. I shed a tear when I got there it was of the most emotional experience for me on somebody I never saw in real life, I cried because I was asking what will Burkina Faso/Africa look like if such exceptional leaders where not killed, with him our aspirations for better Africa was killed.

Visit to Sankara’ s tomb remains one of my best highlights for backpacking West Africa

Thomas Sankara's Tomb

Timbuktu Portrait

30 Nov

Image

After 3 days of sleeping in the tent and eating sandy kebabs while attending Festival au Desert, i decided to go back to town to get some cash, probably shower and clean meal.

I took this photo while eating at this at this “fancy” Hotel name forgotten now, i had most delicious mince and rice, it was the first clean meal i had in 3 days.

I love this photo which was taken by a fellow South African traveler attending the Festival au Desert. I use it as my twitter avatar and other social media platforms.

CNBC Africa Interview

30 Nov

This was my first one on one interview about Africa, Mining and Travel my 3 passions, while i am confident about those 3 subjects discussing them on TV was a scary experience i did not know the questions before hand so, whatever came first in my mind had to be the answer i go with.

I had told my mother about the interview so she went on to tell  the rest of the family and friends, calls after the interview kept me busy the whole night.

I hope to get chance to do another interview preferably with more time to expand on some of the issues i raised on this interview.

Thanks to Paul Theron for giving me the first opportunity.