Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Zimbabwe Remembers Bob Marley

Scores of reggae lovers thronged the Kebab Centre at the weekend in commemoration of the death of the legendary Robert Nester Marley, who passed away on May 11, 1981.

Marley is credited with bringing the Caribbean beat to the world’s attention, various shows were held around Harare.

The genre has since grown in leaps and bounds and it is only fitting that the man should be remembered especially for the fact that he came and performed at the country’s independence celebrations and penned a hit song called ‘Zimbabwe’.

The first show was held at The Kebab on Friday and it attracted almost a full house with revelers being entertained by the likes of Winky D, Sniper, Yagga and Daddy Distress among a host of other artists.

The concerts were organised by the effervescent Trevor Hall, popularly known as Ras Jabulani, with the weekend proving to be a good one for the followers of reggae and dancehall.

Harare Gardens played host to Saturday’s family show were the focus was more on bands with live instruments and the Crucial Mix band doing most of the instrumentals for the artists who performed.

“There was a real nice dancehall feeling and I must say big up to all the artists who came to perform and to Crucial Mix for their work on the instruments. The Kebab was live and exciting so were the gardens but it was unfortunate that not all artists performed,” said Ras Jabu

He added that the commemorations are also an opportunity for the upcoming artists to get an opportunity on stage to market themselves. He singled out entertainers like Badman whom he said had serious potential because of his versatility and stage presence as well as Unity Vibes.

Ras Jabu moaned the lack of sponsorship for reggae and dancehall saying most promoters are keen to promote the likes of Macheso and company.

“Most sponsors are not attracted to dancehall because of the type of artists you find who are freer to speak out what they think but it is the nature of this genre, they are bound to denounce all the wrong they see in society yet sponsors see them as promoters of violence which is not the case,” he said.

The lack of sponsorship on the hand has seen the growth of ghetto dances which in turn has actually made the general dancehall community grow and if sponsorship was to be made available the genre would further grow in Zimbabwe.

“We should not be Eurocentric in our thinking but Afro centric, people should accept dancehall since it is the way the youths are expressing themselves, their influences and experiences,” he said.

The final commemoration gig was held at Sports Diner were Crucial Mix was the focal point since they had not managed to perform because they were mostly backing fellow artists in the previous shows.

Bob Marley’s spirit still lives 26 years on.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Gorge Swing

Apart from the Victoria Falls, the wide selection of activities available to the tourist has been a major reason the resort town blessed with “the smoke that thunders” has been such a draw card.

From abseiling to the Zip Line, adrenaline pumping activities to the laid back sunset cruises all make the “adventure capital of the world” a must on any itinerary.

One such activity that has got most people, who have tried it, sweating and asking themselves if they are insane, is the gorge swing.

Insanity or an insatiable appetite for adventure aptly describes this swing. Offered by Wild Horizons the gorge swing is a combination of a 70 metre drop and a 95 metre swing that will surprisingly get you asking for more.

The setting is Batoka gorge, a massive ravine that is even more impressive with the flooded Zambezi River. I tried it out recently and what a feeling it was.

On yet another hot sunny day in Victoria Falls I made my way to the gorge just after lunch with the man responsible for my “downfall” Dumisani Nkomo.

With the platform built 120 metres above the Zambezi imagining jumping off it can make one change his or her mind about doing the gorge swing.

Unlike the Bungi Jump where you are tied around the ankles and you end up free falling head down, at 120 kilometres an hour, the gorge swing is very different but still just as awesome.

You are harnessed around the waist and your cord is attached to four ropes that stretch across the gorge. There are two dynamic ropes with 10 percent stretch and two semi-static ropes with 15 percent stretch. Your cord will also have a support attachment meaning if the original attachment snaps you will have cover.

All these safety precautions have over the years ensured an injury free gorge swing for all that have tried it.

“You must be crazy doing this, even I haven’t tried doing it and I hope I’m fastening you in the proper manner,” said Dumisani.

It is their way of trying to have a laugh to break the monotony of carrying out one swing after another.

His humour didn’t help much, standing there with sweaty palms, a queasy stomach and shaking knees I was trying to convince myself that it was not scary, after all I’ve bungi jumped twice.

All the formalities concluded I was told of the many ways one can jump, arms and legs spread like bird, head back to the gorge but I preferred holding on to the ropes and simply walk off.

In no time I was hurtling down the gorge, free falling for 70 metres before the rope got hold of me and I was swinging 95 metres across the gorge adrenaline pumping.

After all that, one can dangle for a couple of minutes while taking in the beauty of the Batoka gorge and its cool environs before being pulled up. You will want to do it again surprisingly.

After such a “life threatening experience” nothing beats a mellow and laid back sunset cruise offered by Python Safaris.

Python Safaris is a relatively young tour company that recently acquired Inyathi Campsite and has an array of activities on offer which include canoeing and rafting among others.

The sunset cruise was a two hour experience filled with game sightings that included an elephant that swam across the Zambezi.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Matesti River Lodge

Zimbabwe woke up to the news that one of its prime tourist resorts, Matesti River Lodge, owned by Conservation Corporation Africa (CCAfrica), located in Kazungula, Victoria Falls was attacked by armed robbers who got away with Us$8000, laptops, cellphones, food, blankets and jewellery.

It was a slap in the face for all those people working their butts of to help Zimbabwe remove the bad image it has around the globe. The assailants are allegedly Zambian and if that is proved true then it's about time the responsible authorities did something about this.

Zimbabwe has always had problems with Zambian poachers ask the powers that be at Hwange , Chizarira , Matusadonha National Parks and other wildlife blessed areas in Zimbabwe which are in the Zambezi Valley.

It's also reported that this is the second time that the lodge has been attacked in the last two or three years. I guess the security was caught napping. The question is:What could Matesti do?answer:Increase security personnel? maybe but who would want to go holidaying at resort that resembles a fort? not me that's for sure.

It's a catch 22 and I hope the perpetrators are brought to book and thank God no life was lost because that's what matters at the end of the day.

Matesti River Lodge is an exquisite establishment that charms every visitor that comes and I hope this does not severely harm their business.