Tourism: Six Days In Johannesburg - By Abasi Femi Oguntayo
Being my first time travelling out of the country and my first time travelling on a plane, I was very anxious and could not wait for the day to come.
My Journey to South Africa Started on the Friday April 26th, 2019. That was the same day my late grandfather was laid to rest at his resident in Ipole Iloro.
My Plane Experience
We left Ekiti For Lagos on Friday night and our fight which was scheduled to take off by 10am on Saturday morning was delayed till 10 that Evening. So, our flight was a night flight.
There was a huge crowd at the departure unit of Muritala Mohammed Airport Lagos, this gave me the impression that people were moving massively out of this country.
Well, we all checked in our luggage and proceeded straight to where our passports were cross checked, got our boarding and connecting tickets, because we had a stop over at Nairobi, Kenya.
We didn't have to wait at all because our flight which was to leave by 10 pm was already waiting for us, having wasted about an hour in the traffic jam at the entrance to the Muritala Mohammed Airport.
We got into the plane and I felt fulfilled and at the same time confident that we were going to have a safe journey. I had always wished that anytime I was to board a plane, I would sit by the window side going by my dad's experience of window side enroute Turkey to Dunlin. Lo and behold my seat was directly beside the window, so I had the experience of how the plane moved and flew into the cloud.
I boarded the Kenyan Airlines and I must say it was nice flying the airline. The hospitality and the quality services dished out by the cabin crew was superb. They made sure we were alright and were not in any way feeling any discomfort.
We got to Nairobi after about 5 hours flight, and we had to wait for another one hour to join our connecting flight to Johannesburg, South Arica.
Something happened at the Nairobi Airport that I must say, though was initially frightening but was fun at the end. When we were all seated in the plane and had tightened our seat belts, waiting for the plane to fly, we got an emergency announcement that frightened us.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a slight technical itch and this might delay the flight for additional 20 Minutes", the announcer said. Oh my God, I was said to myself, "Lord have mercy, what again?"
Then the announcer explained that there was some adjustments they needed to make in the plane's toilet and it shouldn't take too much time. Oh what a relief, I was actually scared.
So the fun part of it was that when the flight took off, the pilot took us through the Mount Kilimanjaro and told us we were above Mount Kilimanjaro, that could see it from the window. He said he compensated us with that for wasting our time at Nairobi and that was lovely. So, I saw mount Kilimanjaro while in the plane to Johannesburg.
Getting to Johannesburg
We got to Johannesburg at about 3 and half hours later and our tourist guide was already waiting to pick us up from the Airport to Garden Court Hotel, in Sandton City, where we were lodged throughout our stay in South Africa.
I was given a 30-Day Visa but I spent just 5 days in South Africa, being there for a study tour on the tourism industry of the South Africans.
I must say, it was a great experience and right from the hotel experience, through the beautiful malls, the tourists attraction centres we want to. Talking about the Apartheid Museum, The Government House In Pretoria, the Mandela House in Soweto, the Orlando Stadium and the Jo'burg Zoo.
One thing that drew my attention at first when we were being taken to the hotel from the Airport was the neatness of their roads, beautification was the key.
In Johannesburg, even with their Presidential and provincial elections coming up in about two weeks time during my stay there, everywhere was calm, no police on every junction of the streets, no littering of everywhere with Posters.
Everything was organized, there's a standard of the type of Posters you must use, not paper like we do here in Nigeria, it was like small bill boards, which were placed at strategic areas, and these made everywhere looked neat and modest.
Another thing was the free Wi-Fi Connection at every place you get to, like the hotel, mall, car park, banks, filling stations etc. All you needed at these places was just to register with your name, email and phone number, then you were connected to the internet.
South Africa is designed in a way that it attracts any tourist around the world, with conducive environment, good roads, uninterrupted electricity power and water supply, five stars hotels and organized environment. All these I believe our State, Ekiti can also learn from and put into use to make our dear state the best place for tourist all around the world.
At the Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum, located in the heart of Johannesburg, was the first place we visited.
The place was also designed in a way that it explains all the history of the South Africans, how the Apartheid Policy was manifested and how there was racial discrimination. Just from the entrance point, there's what is called the 'Race Classification', where there is a separate entrance for Whites and Nonwhites.
The above explains how the whites were separated from the Blacks in South Africa, which is a country owned by the Blacks. In the Museum also were places where you stand or sit to watch documentaries of the first 2500 years of the South African original indigents. It's a 15-minute introductory film.
You've got to see a section called Segregation, that's the foundation of apartheid. We also learnt of the Sharpeville Massacre and the turn to Violence, the life of the South Africans under the Apartheid in the 1960s, their life on the mines, the homelands and the rise of their consciousness.
Also In the Apartheid Museum, we got to watch documentaries on how Mandela was arrested and how his wife Winnie was dealt with by the whites oppressors then. All these could be seen at the section called, the Political Execution and detention without trial.
We were also opportune to see the car that was presented to Nelson Mandela by Mercedes Benz Company after his release in 1990. This car was still neat and intact, this I believe we can have in Nigeria also.
Like the Car driven by Funmilola Ransome Kuti being the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria, can also be in one of our museums in Nigeria. Also the amulets used by Fabunmi Okemesi, during the Ekiti Parapo War can also be kept somewhere in a museum in Ekiti and our people can watch and learn about the history of the Kiriji war and the likes.
I must say, the Apartheid Museum is a place to visit as you will get to learn about every history of the South Africans and the Mandela's Struggle for the Freedom of his people.
Mandela was a selfless leader and I want recommend that every leader in Nigeria visit the Apartheid Museum to watch how selfless he was to ensure that his people have a better life and total freedom.
Pretoria (The Government House)
I was also opportune to visit Pretoria, the Executive Capital of South Africa. That's where we have the President and his cabinet members. So I visited the Government house of South Africa called the Union Building.
The Road from Johannesburg to Pretoria in South Africa was just like the Lagos/Ibadan expressway in Nigeria.
We have people who live in Johannesburg and go to work in Pethoria everyday and vice versa. The reason this is possible was the good road network. No such thing as Traffic Jam unless there was an accident on that road that leads to diversion.
Even in the night, the road was very easy and interesting to drive on as there was working streetlights shinning brightly on the road from Johannesburg down to Pretoria, that you do not need to put on your car rear light before driving on the road.
What I observed on my Pretoria experience was that Good Roads and stable electricity power supply were key to economic development of any serious society.
Just like the 'Oke Ayooba' (the Government House) in Ekiti State Nigeria, the South Africa's Government House in Pretoria was built on the Mountain Top that anyone anywhere in Pretoria City could see the government.
The Government House in Pretoria is a tourist centre on its own as Tourists from around the world, ranging from Blacks, Whites and others races of people troop-in in their numbers for sight seeing.
There was a giant Statue of the Late Nelson Mandela mounted in front of the Government House and it was worthy of the eyes to behold that you will be moved to take a picture with.
I was at the Merlyn Mall, also in Pretoria. Marlyn mall is the biggest mall I have every seen.
The Mandela House In Soweto
Do you also know that the Mandela House in Orlando West of Soweto is now a tourist centre?
I was also at the Madela's House in Soweto. The place now generates income for the South African Government as people troop in to take a glance at the place the great leader, Nelson Mandela lived while on earth. So we had to pay before we could enter the house and just look around.
Some significant things about the house was that, it was not fenced with gigantic walls so as to prevent outsiders from pimping in like we do here. It was just a sizable house that could accommodate himself and his immediate family.
We also saw the holes created by bullets shot at the house during the Struggle against the white oppressors. We learnt that was where his wife Winnie lived when Madela was imprisoned.
Actually it was a great privilege to visit the house where the great Nelson Mandela lived while on earth. In his Living room were awards he received from various countries in the world.
Coming to Ekiti State, we can also immortalize people like Fabunmi Okemesi, the great warrior who led the libration battle of the Ekiti from the Oyo Empire. The house he lives while alive can also be rehabilitated and it becomes a tourist centre that tourists all around the world who have heard of his story would want to visit.
The Johannesburg Zoo (Jo'burg Zoo)
The Johannesburg Zoo also known as the Jo'burg Zoo was a very large zoo that is as big as a town on its own. It's regarded as one of the biggest zoos in the world.
Even though I had been to some couple of zoos in Nigeria, the Jo'burg Zoo was undoubtedly and extremely outstanding. Was it the Snake forest that was made for the viewers to have a natural view of the snakes? Or the Aquarium that looks just like the Dubai Aquarium. Where you walk under the water and there are fishes on your left and right sides?
Was it the free Wi-Fi connection available in the zoo which you can connect with and let the whole world know you're in the Jo'burg Zoo? There were also trans-amusement park, snack shop, vast green grass where one can have a picnic and many more.
One can be in that zoo the whole day going around because of how large it is. It was a very big zoo. I saw an Elephant for the first time at the Jo'burg Zoo.
Sandton City Mall
Sandton Mall located in the beautiful city of Sandton is one of the biggest malls in South Africa. I spent most of my time there.
In the Sandton mall we had the Mandela's square, Cinema house, various outlets to get whatever you need. It was always a busy place and you get to meet a lot of new people there.
It was in the Sandton Mall that I ate Pounded Yam and Vegetables mixed with Egusi soup. Oh, it was a great moment eating my local dish again that day.
For like 3 days in Jo'burg, I was eating like the South Africans, eating Buffet in the morning. I ate fried beans, slightly roasted raw meat, hot dog, snacks, bread, fruits juice.
I must tell you, even with all the above, I was not still feeling cool, and I needed to look for where i could get my local dish. I located the HomeBaze African Kitchen in the Sandton Mall. You cannot imagine how happy I was when I got the pounded yam, wow! No place like home.
My tour to South Africa had opened my eyes to a lot of things. One thing about South Africa Is that it is designed in a way that it silk be fascinating to any tourist. Talking about attractiveness.
Our leaders travel to these great countries and see how conducive life is to them. I wonder why they could not emulate those things they see over there in their various communities.
Ekiti State for instance can also invest in tourism, I believe Ekiti will become a Tourist Centre that generates revenue majorly from tourism if we'll managed.
Just like I mentioned above, Okemesi Ekiti can be a tourist centre because the town has a lof of historical background which, if well utilized, can generate massive income for the State and for the town.
I propose a Fabunmi House in Okemesi-Ekiti and also the rehabilitation of the Ekiti Parapo Museum. These are millions of Naira wasting, waiting to be utilized.
Tourism is a great industry that can make the smallest of the smallest towns more popular than the rest of the towns.
My South Africa experience was great and I cannot wait to visit more places there.
|With The Honorable Commissioner For Justice, OLAWALE FAPOHUNDA, who was also in Johannesburg at that time .|
Abasi Femi Oguntayo is a Journalist and the Media Assistant to Ekiti State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice.